Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has opened up on his self-critical side as a footballer, including the games he’s hated playing in.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has been a part of Jurgen Klopp ‘s Liverpool side since 2017, producing some important performances and scoring key goals.
But the 27-year-old’s Anfield career has usually been halted by injury, just as he’s got going.
It takes time for any footballer to return to peak Premier League fitness and Oxlade-Chamberlain knows the levels required of him at the Reds.
“I have always been self-critical,” he told The Telegraph.
“I know when I am feeling good. That comes out in performance. I hate games which pass me by. Especially in this team.
“When I am in midfield I know my role so when I feel I do not do enough – running with the ball, creating, shooting, giving Mo (Salah), Sadio (Mane) and Bobby (Firmino) opportunities to score – I recognise it. That is where self-criticism comes from.
“I wanted more from myself for a lot of last season. I can look back on it and say ‘eight goals – my most ever in a season, and fourth highest in the team’. But I was not happy with how I performed for the majority of it. I expect more from myself in certain areas at certain times. When I am not doing it I get frustrated.”
The England international is part of a midfield that contains an enormous amount of talent. Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Naby Keita and now Thiago Alcantara are all competing for places in the middle.
Oxlade-Chamberlain knows in order to get in he has to bring something different to the table.
“Every midfielder at the club brings something slightly different,” he said.
“Ever since I have been at Liverpool I think our midfield is our most talked about area in the sense it has been up for debate by people outside who plays in midfield with the boys rotated.
“It is a competitive area. It is something you accept and deal with it so when you get the chance you need to prove why you should be playing.
“Some bring more defensively, others are better supporting the forwards. That is the headache the manager has to have. Form and results go into that. Midfield in our team gets through most of the work rate and high intensity stuff.
“It is the engine room. If anything, that is the area where you’ve to have more options to rotate. The front three have been unbelievable. Not just as players but as athletes, showing how durable they are.
“When everyone is fit, managers tend to want a stable back four. So midfield is always the area where you need to be able to tweak without taking too much from how the team plays, and people can put a different three in there for different valid reasons for different games.”