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    Sunday, 18 July 2021

    'Bobby beware' - Oxlade-Chamberlain jokes he's taking Firmino's place next season

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has sent a tongue-in-cheek warning to Roberto Firmino as the Englishman prepares for new season after injury


    There could be some elements of seriousness in Oxlade-Chamberlain's tongue-in-cheek warning to Roberto Firmino this week while the England international was reflecting on his occasional use as a false nine toward the back end of last season.

    Last season was arguably unusual for the 27-year-old in that his frustrations did not result from the fitness setbacks that have plagued him at times at Anfield.

    Oxlade-Chamberlain had recovered from a knee problem picked up in pre-season by November, but then went on to make just two starts across the remainder of the campaign.

    Unfortunately, as it stands, there are no guarantees that opportunities will be plentiful next term, with Thiago Alcantara now firmly established and Liverpool in the market for a Gini Wijnaldum replacement.

    And it is for this reason that the false nine position might just represent the midfielder's best chance of picking up playing time.

    Reflecting on how he was occasionally used as a false nine toward the back end of last season,  Oxlade-Chamberlain facetiously declared to Liverpool.com: "Bobby, be careful!"

    For all his brilliance, there have been times when Firmino has looked both jaded and in need of a genuine challenger to his place in recent seasons.

    Jota was, of course, occasionally used there last year, but Oxlade-Chamberlain believes playing as a No.9 in the current Liverpool setting is more the job of a midfielder than a forward and gave his reasons.

    The Englishman said: "The way that role is played, it’s almost similar to a No.10, attacking-midfield role because you drop quite deep so in that sense I find it quite natural.

    "I feel like I can run in behind from there as well and get in and around the box, and you get opportunities to shoot and score."

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