The return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a moment to cherish for all Liverpool fans
That's how you announce your return to the UEFA Champions League! Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his return to Europe's elite competition in some style, scoring two goals against Racing Genk.
The 26-year-old had suffered a horrific knee injury against Roma 18 months ago, and would have been intensely determined to make up for lost time.
The hiatus was particularly unfortunate for Ox. He was slowly becoming the mainstay in Jurgen Klopp's midfield. Liverpool fans will never forget his goals against Manchester City (one in the Champions League and the other in the Premier League); he had started showing signs of turning into a eminently reliable player.
But the injury threatened to unravel all of his good work. Losing an entire season must have been especially painful for the Englishman, as his team kept cruising and ended up with the Champions League trophy.
But all that is in the past, and now Ox has to start from the very beginning.
After his return, Ox has been awarded with precious little game time by Klopp. Considering the time he spent on the sidelines, that is justified; Ox is still adjusting to Liverpool's game. He looks slightly off the pace, and his body is not yet 100% of what it used to be.
But on the Champions League night against Genk, all those problems seemed to go away - if only temporarily. Ox took just two minutes to give the Reds the early advantage. Even though the shot had a slight deflection to help it on its way, the result boosted the Englishman's confidence.
Genk fought back, and if it wasn't for VAR, the result could have been different. The game was all but settled when Ox scored his second of the night, and that goal was pure brilliance - outside of the right boot, outside the box, kissing the bar and going in.
There was nothing Gaëtan Coucke could have done to save that.
Scoring two goals was already incredible, but Oxlade-Chamberlain excelled in other areas of the game as well. He pressed exceptionally well and won the ball from Genk many times. Overall, it was a perfect man-of-the-match performance by the Portsmouth-born footballer.
So what does this mean for Ox? Does it guarantee a starting berth against Tottenham Hotspur? Nobody can quite be sure.
Despite the lack of creativity among Gini, Henderson and Fabinho, Klopp might still go with this tried and tested trio. All the three of them work hard and press hard, dispossessing the opposition regularly, and that can often get the job done.
Oxlade-Chamberlain does give Klopp a welcome selection dilemma though, as he offers the creative link between the defence and the front three. That's something that was was missing at Old Trafford.
So will this mark the return of the Ox? Can he build on this and go on to achieve his full potential? The answer is quite simple: if he stays fit, he can.Published 25 Oct 2019, 02:11 IST