English players are easy targets for unhappy fans.
Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Dele Alli have all been made scapegoats for uninspiring performances or questionable behaviour in recent seasons.
But none used to receive the backlash from his own supporters quite like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did at Arsenal.
The Ox’s consistency has always been his main drawback, showing glimpses of his true potential rather than fulfilling it on a regular basis.
Many Gunners fans laughed all the way to the bank after his £35m move to Liverpool in the summer, particularly after just 20 goals in nearly 200 games at the Emirates.
Thierry Henry and Gary Neville shared their view, with the former claiming to have watched him “for a very long time and still don’t know what he’s good at” back in August.
But who’s laughing and criticising him now?
Oxlade-Chamberlain is a man reborn under Jurgen Klopp – mainly because he actually has a manager who appreciates his qualities.
In eight months on Merseyside he’s now 13 points clear of his former club and a Champions League semi-finalist.
He was Liverpool’s heartbeat in midfield as they brilliantly overcame Man City, bursting forward with intent but equally diligent going the other way to stifle the opposition’s relentless attacks.
Add his sensational goal in the first leg and he was one of the top two or three outstanding performers over the 180 minutes on the biggest stage of his career.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is already having the best goalscoring season of his career, scoring five goals and assisting another five.
He has the freedom to express himself under Klopp with a new lease of life through the middle.
Meanwhile his former club are in disarray; a distant sixth in the race for Champions League football amid an air of toxicity around the Emirates.
Oxlade-Chamberlain will never be the most technical player but Klopp has recognised that, focusing instead on his other traits.
His all action, hustle and bustle style fits Klopp’s mantra perfectly compared with Arsene Wenger’s laboured, possession based approach.
And ultimately Oxlade-Chamberlain’s rebirth at Anfield is utterly damning of Wenger’s shortsightedness.
He’s also struck up an instant rapport with Liverpool’s electric front three, particularly Mohamed Salah who he’s assisted four times already this season.
Playing with a smile on his face, The Ox looks at home on Merseyside and the fans have taken to him.
He speaks with impressive authority and famously jumped in to defend Philippe Coutinho back in December after the Brazilian was questioned about his impending move to Barcelona.
He was an underappreciated bit-part player at Arsenal, but he’s got his desired central role at Liverpool… and he’s absolutely central to their plans.
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