Liverpool couldn’t have scripted a more perfect start to their Champions League tie with Manchester City if they tried.
Nobody was under any illusion that the Reds’ fluid attack would struggle against their domestic opponents, but few saw them taking apart Pep Guardiola’s men so easily. After just 31 minutes, Liverpool led 3-0 virtue of Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane.
Of the three goals, it was the second that was the most special of the bunch with Oxlade-Chamberlain finding the net superbly well from fully 25 yards.
Despite lacking a clear opening from which to shoot, the ex-Arsenal man saw his opportunity and left Ederson clutching at thin air as Liverpool pulled away.
It was nothing more than Oxlade-Chamberlain deserved with the Englishman delivering one of his finest performances in a Liverpool shirt from central midfield.
OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN IMPRESSES DURING MAN CITY WIN
As a result, it was only fair that the 24-year-old received his fair share of praise during the post-match analysis in the BT Sport studio with Rio Ferdinand leading the way.
The praise focused on how Oxlade-Chamberlain has thrived in the centre of midfield, arguably his finest position now after seasons of being moved around the pitch.
He has nine appearances for Liverpool in this area as well as cameos at defensive midfield and left forward.
FERDINAND THOUGHT OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN WAS SUPERB AT CM
Ferdinand argued: “We saw none of this from him at Arsenal. Since he’s come to Liverpool, after a slow start, he’s gathering momentum at a crucial part of the season and he’s becoming a very, very important player to this Liverpool side at the moment.
“It’s testament to him: he’s getting games, he knows what he’s meant to be doing, he’s getting in the team, he’s got a game plan and he’s carrying it out perfectly.
“I’ve always liked him in this position [CM], I’ve seen him play against Manchester United as a 16 or 17-year-old for Southampton and I thought: ‘wow, he’s someone who can get the ball, break through midfield lines and cause problems.’
“It’s just about decision making and getting to play in that position consistently, getting to know it and he’s doing that here.”
Spot on, Rio and it seems to be bringing the best out of Oxlade-Chamberlain at the moment.
Frank Lampard certainly agreed and even suggested that the Liverpool man could feature for England in central midfield at the World Cup.
“They are not many players who can do this in midfield, opening up the game with pace and direction. The end product has always been the question and he showed tonight, at the highest level, that he has that end product.”
Certainly bold but after Wednesday night’s performance, seemingly justified.