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Alex Oxlade Chamberlain

West Ham 1-4 Liverpool: Salah keeps shining

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  • Reds score twice in 3 first half minutes
  • Liverpool sixth with 19 points
  • West Ham now 17th

Red-hot Mohamed Salah scored two more goals as Liverpool hammered West Ham United 4-1 at the London Stadium on Saturday in what will surely lead to more calls for Irons coach Slaven Bilic‘s job.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joel Matip also scored for the Reds, while Manuel Lanzini scored West Ham’s only marker.

Liverpool finishes the day in sixth, climbing back above Burnley on 19 points.

West Ham could finish the weekend in the drop zone if Everton beats Watford on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Joe Hart made a fine intervention early, and it was Simon Mignolet‘s chance to feel danger when Andre Ayew beat him but not the goal in the ninth minute.

West Ham looked up for it until opening up for a counter after a misplayed corner kick. Sadio Mane dribbled the majority of the pitch before deferring to Salah to beat Hart.

Matip then tapped a rebound past Hart off a corner kick. Salah’s corner came off Mark Noble to force Hart’s parry. That fell right to Matip. 2-0, 24′.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Lanzini bodied Joe Gomez to make it 2-1 with two slick touches, but West Ham made it 3-1 within a minute when Oxlade-Chamberlain had two cracks at Hart.

It could’ve been 3-2 through Lanzini again, but he skied his chance over the bar after a nice feed from Andy Carroll.

Javier Hernandez was pushed in the back with a chance to nod home, but Neil Swarbrick didn’t see a enough for a penalty kick.

Salah made it a three-goal cushion with his final marker of the day.

Tactics Session: Liverpool’s midfield to blame for poor defending, too

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Here’s something said by anyone and everyone who’s watched an hour of the Premier League over the last 24 months: Liverpool won’t win the PL title until Jurgen Klopp sorts out that shambolic defense.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City’s historic start; Man United, Arsenal win ]

Well, duh, and thanks for really going out on a limb with that one.

On Saturday, NBC Sports’ Robbie Earle went error-by-error in picking apart one of the Reds’ many defensive breakdowns (above video) during last weekend’s 4-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur. In short, Dejan Lovern, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Simon Mignolet were all guilty of critical errors as Harry Kane opened the scoring after just four minutes. There’s another group of players, though, which is worth considering as opponents continue to pick Liverpool apart on a near-weekly basis.

[ PL PREVIEW: Battle of the new bosses; Brighton vs. Southampton ]

Theory: it’s actually Liverpool’s midfield which is most responsible for this season’s repeated disasters at the back. The results are as poor as they’ve ever been under Klopp — they had the worst defensive record of the PL’s “big six” sides during Klopp’s first (partial) season at Anfield, followed by the second-worst of the six last season, and are sixth out of six thus far in 2017-18 — with little reason to expect significant change as the defensive characters remain the same. When called upon in 2016-17, again, it was simply more of the same.

The key difference being: they were better protected, thus forced into action less frequently, in the past. Whether by design or happenstance, the midfield and forward lines aren’t disrupting possession and winning the ball back as consistently as previous iterations of Klopp’s old gegenpress system. Most notably, it’s the early moments (first five seconds, or three passes) of opposition possession which haven’t been challenged with that familiar urgency.

[ MORE: England top Spain, win U-17 World Cup ]

Take, for instance, that loss to Tottenham — while Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Emre Can are probably the three most “defensive” midfield options in Klopp’s squad, they’re also the three least mobile and press-suited. Georginio Wijnaldum is often labeled an “attacking” midfielder, that what makes him perfectly suited for the transition from pressing to attacking. The same goes for Adam Lallana, who’s currently injured and gutting this side through his absence. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, should he ultimately end up in central midfield, is very similar in that regard. Marko Grujic, while still a relative PL unknown, profiles better as a central midfielder than the three who started at Wembley Stadium.

Without that constant on-ball pressure, Mauricio Pochettino was inspired in his tactical tweak to feature Harry Winks, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli in a pass-heavy midfield-three, as the three on-ball technicians were able to play through the middle third of the field with very little resistance and get at the likes of Lovren, Matip and Gomez more directly. The return of starting right back Nathaniel Clyne (hamstring), who hasn’t played a minute this season, will undoubtedly add a bit more mobility and athleticism to an otherwise plodding rearguard.

It’s a trend that, should it continue, will result in more and more — and easier and easier — goals conceded by the Reds.

Maribor 0-7 Liverpool: Reds finally finish

AP Photo/Darko Bandic
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Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool has been frustrated on English soil, and let loose its misery on Maribor with a 7-0 win in UEFA Champions League play on Tuesday.

Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah nabbed braces, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Philippe Coutinho also scored for the Reds.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Liverpool finishes the day atop Group E thanks to Spartak Moscow’s blowout of visiting Sevilla.

The Reds took a 3-0 lead before the match was 20 minutes old, and led 4-0 at the break at Ljudski Vrt in Slovenia.

Liverpool sign Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal

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Liverpool have completed the $45 million transfer of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal.

[ STREAM: Deadline Day show ]

Oxlade-Chamberlain, 24, had his medical and agreed personal terms while on international duty with England ahead of their 2018 World Cup qualifier in Malta on Friday.

The Ox has signed a five-year deal for a reported $150,000 a week, as he is said to have turned down a new $230,000 a week deal at Arsenal to move to Anfield.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news ]

In a statement Oxlade-Chamberlain revealed his excitement at joining Liverpool but his focus remains on the Three Lions.

“I’m currently away with England, so I’m at St George’s Park. Firstly, I’m delighted to have signed for Liverpool and a big thank-you to everyone here at the FA that has made this possible, using the facilities. It has been a massive help,” Oxlade-Chamberlain said. “I’m not going to say too much today; I’m here with England and we’ve got two big games coming up, so I want to focus on them. But I can’t wait to get to Melwood and you’ll hear first from me on LFCTV.”

Oxlade-Chamberlain becomes Liverpool’s fourth signing of the summer after Mohamed Salah, Andrew Robertson and Dominic Solanke, while Jurgen Klopp broke Liverpool’s transfer record to sign Naby Keita for $71.2 million with the RB Leipzig midfielder to arrive next summer.

Klopp was happy to land Oxlade-Chamberlain and hinted that no decision has been made about where Oxlade-Chamberlain will line up on the pitch as the Ox is said to prefer a central midfield role.

“I hear a lot of talk about positions but let’s talk about the player; he is someone with really good abilities who always gives everything for his team. A player that is positive and willing to take risks to try and make positive things happen,” Klopp said. “He may still be young but he has a lot of experience in the Premier League, Champions League and for his country. Already he is a very, very good player and I think he has the mentality and desire to get even better – and that excites me. This is someone making a tough decision to leave one great club and come to another great club and I think he had many options, so to get him means I am delighted.”

Reports: Liverpool agree deal for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

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Multiple reports claim that Liverpool have agreed a fee of $45.2 million with Arsenal for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

[ MORE: Latest transfer news ] 

Arsenal had agreed the same fee with Chelsea on Tuesday but Oxlade-Chamberlain turned down a move to the reigning Premier League champions.

Chamberlain, 24, reportedly wanted to play in a central midfield role and felt that if he stayed at Arsenal or moved to Chelsea he would continue to play at right wing back.

[ STREAM: Deadline Day show ] 

The England international will now discuss personal terms and have a medical ahead of his move to Anfield, but it is already being reported that Oxlade-Chamberlain will sign a six-year deal at Liverpool.

Liverpool have already signed winger Mohamed Salah from AS Roma for $47 million, young striker Dominic Solanke for a tribunal fee and left back Andrew Robertson for $10.3 million this summer.

Jurgen Klopp has also agreed a club-record $71.2 million deal for RB Leipzig midfielder Naby Keita who will join the Reds next summer, plus reports continue to link them with moves for Thomas Lemar of AS Monaco and Virgil Van Dijk of Southampton.

If the Ox does agree personal terms then he will be challenging the likes of Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner for a spot in central midfield, but his versatility means he can easily line up out wide as an attacker or even fill in as a wing back when needed.

Who does this deal suit best?

Arsenal have got a big fee for a player who has been on the fringes for the past few seasons and has never truly fulfilled his potential after arriving from Southampton in 2011 due to injuries and constantly being in and out of Arsene Wenger‘s plans.

Liverpool have a player who has gained considerable experience for someone just 24 years old and is now ready to realize his potential after impressive displays over the last eight months.

And Oxlade-Chamberlain has a chance to play in the UEFA Champions League and to establish himself as a regular for a top four Premier League side and for the England national team.

It seems like everyone wins with this deal.

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