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Player Analysis

Ox to LIV: Winners and Losers

by Neal Thurman
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

It feels like we were just here the other day...probably because we were or at least hereabouts.  Honestly, despite all of the jokes on Twitter about Oxlade-Chamberlain officially signing for Liverpool only a few days after he debuted for them, this is actually an even better deal for Arsenal than the Chelsea deal was.  Why? Chelsea actually need some depth in the places, especially right wing back, that the Ox plays.  Liverpool really don't.  But let's take a more detailed look: 

 

Winner: Arsene Wenger

Same reason as before really.  Oxlade-Chamberlain isn't a deep-lying central midfielder despite Wenger's occasional protestations to the contrary.  He's the club's 2nd best right wing back.  He's probably the 3rd best option for either of the two attacking wide positions (behind some combination of Alexis/Welbeck/Iwobi/Ozil/Walcott).  Despite that, Wenger was willing to pay a king's ransom in wages for reasons passing understanding to a player who can't stay healthy and hasn't really gotten any better.  This is the definition of being saved from yourself.

 

Loser: Liverpool's CFO

That's a ton of money to pay for someone who doesn't seem to have a clear path to starting in any position.  Can, Wijnaldum, Henderson, and Milner are all better in the deeper-lying midfield positions.  Salah, Sane, and Lallana are all better as wide attackers and at least Ings, though perpetually crocked, has a season on his record where he's actually scored Premier League goals.  Coutinho and Firmino are both clearly stars.  Sturridge is hurt a lot but he's productive when he's healthy and it isn't like Ox is healthy more frequently than Sturridge despite being younger.  Even if Liverpool go to a wing back formation you have to assume Clyne gets the start and Ox would be a reserve there too.  So where does he play and when?

 

Winner: Bellerin and Kolasinac

They're pretty well locked in as the starters at outside back for Arsenal.  We covered this territory when we thought he was going to Chelsea and it doesn't change.  Now all the two outside backs have to do is stay healthy. 

 

Loser: Antonio Conte

While I didn't love the financial value for Chelsea when it looked like that's the deal that Arsenal had struck, there's at least a case that the defending champs needed the depth behind Victor Moses and maybe even to challenge Moses at right wing back.  Now Conte, who has been frustrated for much of the summer with the failure to recruit, finds himself missing out on yet another target that looked like he was in the bag.  After years of looking like complete masters of the transfer market, Chelsea are showing some signs of serious weakness which won't be what Conte came to London to experience. 

 

Winner: Arsenal Supporters (maybe)

It really just depends on what the next move is, doesn't it? If Arsenal can parlay the unexpectedly large windfall from the sale of Oxlade-Chamberlain into a replacement of the Jean Michael Seri variety (someone who has actually proven themselves capable of end product in significant matches) and the money is approximately even in terms of both transfer fee and wages then that will be a massive win.  That will require Arsenal to move quickly and decisively with only 24 hours left in the transfer window which is always a dubious proposition.  

 

Loser: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

This is a serious headscratcher for the Ox.  I don't know what his complaint is at Arsenal but presumably it is some combination of money, opportunity to play, and participation in the Champions League (and by proxy, positioning to play for England).  I'm sure Jurgen Klopp is a wonderful human being and an excellent manager who is fun to play for but reportedly the player will make less money at Liverpool than he would have at Chelsea (with Arsenal's offered wages trumping both), he'll likely play less at Liverpool than he would have at either Chelsea or Arsenal, and, yes, Liverpool are in the Champions League but so are Chelsea who seem to have a clearer path to being there on a regular basis since they have, you know, a defense. 

 

At some level it would be refreshing to see a player pick a club because he actually thinks that the manager will help him become a better player and Klopp certainly has a reputation for bringing young talent along where Chelsea have the opposite reputation.  Still, if the goal is to play and play in high profile situations, then Chelsea would have been the obvious choice.  What would have made even more sense would have been to take a step down to the middle of the table and actually take on a full-time role for a season and actually prove that you have the goods to go along with the reputation and obvious athleticism.

 

Neal Thurman
Neal Thurman manages the Rotoworld's Premier League coverage and contributes to Never Manage Alone which he co-founded. He is also a diehard Arsenal supporter. You can find him on Twitter @NealJThurman.