Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain admits life at Anfield will be different without Philippe Coutinho
And the visit of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to Anfield is the toughest test they could face in their first game without him.
It won’t just be about how Sunday’s game goes for Jurgen Klopp’s side; it is more about how the rest of their season pans out after the decision to sell one of their best players midway through the campaign.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is aware those that have been left behind after Coutinho’s exit have to absorb the loss as a group, and he is in no doubt they can handle it.
“First and foremost, I am the type of person who relishes the chance to stand up and perform under pressure, I have had to do that my whole career,” said the former Arsenal midfielder.
“At a massive club like Liverpool people are going to come and go and whoever remains it is our job to keep the wheels moving and keep the momentum going.
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We have still amazing players who can score goals
“I knew what an amazing player he was, what a world-class talent he was before I came here.
“And in the short time I’ve been able to play with him, I’ve seen what an influential part he was in the side.
“But I haven’t really even thought about Phil leaving. You pay it attention and you realise it happens but you can’t start thinking, ‘What are we going to do now that Phil is not here?’
“When Phil wasn’t playing in the team for some games we still played great football and we have still amazing players who can score goals – the likes of Mo [Salah], Sadio [Mane], Roberto [Firmino], everyone else.
“We have goals and creativity all over the team.
“The fact is he has gone now and we have to think, ‘What have we got that is going to get the job done?’
“I have every faith in the boys that we just move on now. I don’t think it should affect us at all.”
There could be no greater test of whether that is true than a visit from Manchester City for an encounter that could have a huge effect on the Reds’ top-four hopes, but Oxlade-Chamberlain insists he will not be on their minds.
“I’ve got every respect for Phil and his decisions, I wish him all the best, but he is not in my thoughts right now because he is not going to be able to affect the score,” he said.
Philippe Coutinho left for Barcelona this month
“I’m more concerned about what I can do, what Mo can do, what Sadio can do, what whoever is playing will do because we are the boys now that will get the right result for the club.”
While Oxlade-Chamberlain is not foolish enough to suggest he can fill the void created by Coutinho’s departure on his own, he will be aware the result could be more playing time.
At the beginning of the season the England midfielder was struggling to get into the side as Klopp wanted him to adapt to his playing style, and he did not start a League game until November.
He lost his England place in Gareth Southgate’s last squad before Christmas and there were questions if he made the right decision to snub a new deal at Arsenal and a move to Chelsea in favour of reigniting his career at Anfield.
But Oxlade-Chamberlain has now started four of the last six games and insists there were never any doubts in his mind before his influence started to grow.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jurgen Klopp already share a close bond
“I came here for a reason. I felt I needed a change and a new challenge,” he said. “You want to play as much as possible but I am not the type of character to go bursting walls down.
“I knew coming into a new environment, the manager would want me to learn the way he wants me to play and how to play best with the team.
“Even when there were times I wasn’t playing as much as I would have liked, I respected I was the new boy and I had a lot of learning to do.
“When I came to the decision to come here, I said to myself that I was going to stick by the decision and no matter what happened that is what felt right at the time.
“There was never a time I thought that [I made the wrong decision], I was just focused on how I can keep improving.
“I’m feeling like I’ve really settled in and like a good part of the team, but I know there’s a lot more room for improvement and I need to keep pushing it out of myself.”
Source : EXPRESS