It’s time once again for something we love to do, a Q&A with bloggers from the opposing team. This week we chat with Zach from Liverpool Offside about Ox, this weekend’s game, and what Liverpool might do in January. I answered some questions from them as well, which you can read right here.
1. Now that he's settled in, do you feel that the Ox, with his one goal and two assists in 15 appearances, has justified his cost? What role do you see for him in Klopp's system?
Those appearance stats are more than a touch misleading. He's had 19 appearances in the league and Champions League in Liverpool Red, but only 746 total minutes. So, he's actually averaging a goal or an assist once every 186.5 minutes. The fact that he's often been deployed deeper--either as a center mid (as he did on Sunday against Bournemouth, earning an assist), or even as a winger in a 4-4-2--shows that Klopp isn't necessarily looking for massive goal production out of the young England international. Ox struggled initially, but he has really seemed to flourish in recent weeks, even earning the Man of the Match on Sunday over Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, who each had a goal and an assist. Klopp speaks very highly of Ox, and his pace, power, and work rate should bode well for a future under the German manager.
2. Halfway through the season, Liverpool sit 4th in a very tight race for everything but the title. What do they need to do to keep hold of a Champions League qualification spot?
Liverpool have actually been in pretty good form as of late, and remain second only to Man City in the loss column. If we can turn a few more of these draws into wins in the second half of the season, why should easily qualify for Champions League yet again. Pundits are quick to point out Liverpool's poor defense as a major liability, and while we certainly could use a Virgil van Dijk type reinforcement, we're not nearly as bad as many claim. No, our biggest problem has been teams sitting back with two banks of four, and just sucking all the joy out of the match, as Big Sam's Everton and Pardew's West Brom did to us last week.
3. Last time these two met, Arsenal kinda forgot to show up. Coming into the Emirates, how does Klopp keep the team from thinking Friday will be more of the same?
It's Arsenal, mate. The players will be pumped up for it. It should be an exciting, if terrifying, showdown, with lots of attacking intent on both sides. Unless you lot don't show up again, in which case I guess we'll take another 4-0.
4. Do you expect Liverpool to do anything big during the January window?
After the Van Dijk debacle this summer, we're really hoping to rectify that misstep. Other than that, a defender with a pulse and boots would probably also do.
As in the summer, we'll probably face another Barcelona charm campaign to land Coutinho. Whether this charm campaign will actually come with an offer approaching his value in this ridiculous, inflated, transfer market is another story altogether. At this point, most Liverpool fans are resigned to losing the tricky Brazilian in the summer, but losing him in this window--especially with a winnable Champions League Round of 16 draw against Porto in the not-to-distant future--would be a blow.
5. Fill in the blank: If Arsenal want to beat Liverpool, above all they must (blank)
Judging by our two losses so far--away to Man City, and away to Spurs--your best bet is to come out swinging. City meticulously picked apart our defense (aided, it must be noted, by a Sadio Mane red card), and Spurs picked their moments to capitalize on defensive errors and a high defensive line with loads of space to counter-attack into. If both teams bring their A-game in attack, I could see this being a high-scoring affair.
Thanks again to Zach and the Liverpool Offside for chatting with us!