Jurgen Klopp has risked Arsene Wenger’s wrath ahead of Liverpool’s English Premier League visit to the Emirates today by claiming the Arsenal manager failed to get the best out of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
He joined Liverpool in August after Wenger decided to cash in before the England midfielder’s contract expired.
The 24-year-old never quite lived up to his early promise at Arsenal. But, after a slow start at Liverpool following his move, Oxlade-Chamberlain has started to hit his stride in recent weeks – just in time for his first return to the Emirates.
Liverpool manager Klopp has been impressed by Oxlade-Chamberlain’s development at Anfield, saying: “He had to adapt. I know how it is if you’re kind of a big signing. You have to perform immediately. But it’s difficult.
“I was happy from the first day about his involvement, about his attitude, and since then he became more and more a Liverpool player.”
But Klopp believes Oxlade-Chamberlain would already be an even more potent force if he had been instructed to add a goal threat to his game while he was with Arsenal.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored just twice in 20 appearances for Liverpool and managed 20 goals in 198 games for Arsenal.
Klopp believes that poor strike rate is down to Wenger prioritising the talents of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
“I think the biggest improvement, or the biggest potential he still has, is really being involved in goalscoring situations, because he has it in himself,” the German said.
“It is unbelievable, but he was not asked for this too much I think in the past. If you watched Arsenal in the past, the two decisive players were Sanchez and Ozil.
“Here, we put it on much more shoulders, and if he’s on the pitch he needs to be involved in situations like this.”
Liverpool thrashed Arsenal 4-0 at Anfield in August and Wenger will be hoping that he will not go through another haunting defeat.
“Well, when you have such a long career as I have, you have some defeats unfortunately that hurt you for the rest of your life,” the Frenchman told London’s Evening Standard.
When asked if he feels that Oxlade-Chamberlain will receive a warm reception from the Arsenal fans at the Emirates, he replied: “I don’t know. I rate Alex highly and he knows that. We want all the players who have played for us to be respected.”