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Oxlade-Chamberlain returns to Liverpool training

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The long road to recovery is almost over for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

That sentence will be music to the ears of Liverpool fans.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, 25, suffered a serious knee injury in the UEFA Champions League semifinal win against Roma last April and has been out for almost 10 months.

But the Reds revealed that the Ox took part in the first part of a team training session on Tuesday during their warm weather training camp in Marbella, Spain.

Jurgen Klopp confirmed that Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rhian Brewster, Ben Woodburn and Nat Phillips all took part in the session but James Milner, Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum did not take part.

Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez remained back in Liverpool with the former a big doubt for the upcoming game against Bayern Munich with a hamstring injury. That is not great news with Virgil Van Dijk suspended for the first leg versus Bayern on Feb. 19 at Anfield, thus meaning Joel Matip is Klopp’s only fit center back right now.

“The boys had to do a bit of core work, passing and the rondos and it’s nice [they could be involved],” Klopp said. “These things Ox can do, and Rhian can do, and Ben can do and Nat Phillips could do most of them. That’s all good. This afternoon they will have to do their own stuff again and hopefully we can integrate them step by step.”

The initial timeline for Ox’s return stated that he would miss the entire 2018-19 campaign. However, if he can return for the final few games of this campaign it would provide Liverpool with a huge boost in their battle for the title and a deep run in the UEFA Champions League.

The photo gallery below is well worth a flick through, as Klopp’s side went on a bike ride and the German coach looks to be lifting the spirits as his side have slipped off of top spot in recent weeks.

With Bayern and Manchester United in their next two games, Liverpool know a pivotal moment has arrived in their season.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 23

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Two Premier League clubs have dipped to new season lows in our Premier League Club Power Rankings.

[ ARCHIVE: Premier League club power rankings ]

20. Huddersfield Town — If Jan Siewert can save the Terriers this season, he should get an instant statue next to David Wagner‘s whenever the latter is built.
Last week: 20
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Fulham — A fine performance against Spurs ends with another loss.
Last week: 19
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

18. Cardiff City — It’s difficult to rail against the Bluebirds’ performance at Newcastle given the horrific story involving record signing Emiliano Sala’s plane disappearing en route to Wales.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

17. Newcastle United — Out of the drop zone after a convincing defeat of Cardiff City, the Magpies don’t have much of a chance to build on it. Next up are Man City, Spurs, and Wolves, the latter two away from St. James’ Park. By the time Huddersfield Town visits, will the Magpies be with them in the drop zone?
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 19

16. Burnley — Given their recent run, a draw at Watford is just fine. The Clarets are just dropping due to the razor-thin margins between the hopeful midtable sides. Burnley is still just three points above the drop zone. Now can Sean Dyche slow Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s flying Manchester United at Old Trafford?
Last week: 14
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

15. Everton *New season low* — Anything other than a win at Huddersfield Town should legitimately increase the heat under Marco Silva‘s seat to full flame.
Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 15

14. Southampton — Back-to-back wins and the chance to put another side in its rear view when 14th place Palace visits in what could be the surprise entertainment of the midweek.
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

13. Crystal Palace — Some understandable bumps in the road have hit the Eagles, but they’ll be expected to bounce back and get a point or more at Southampton even if Ralph Hasenhuttl has Saints looking up.
Last week: 16
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

12. Brighton and Hove Albion — After losses to Liverpool and Manchester United, don’t be surprised if the Seagulls bust out the goals against Fulham.
Last week: 10
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

11. Leicester City — Now losers of three-in-four after a 7-goal thriller with Wolves, which probably shouldn’t be put down to Claude Puel (but will be).
Last week: 11
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

10. Bournemouth — A nice bounce back and win against West Ham sets the Cherries up for another chance to show something against a Top Six side in unimpressive Chelsea. And, so far, the Cherries have been able to hold onto striker Callum Wilson.
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

9. West Ham United — Still maddeningly inconsistent. Would be useful if they can flip Marko Arnautovic for a stable and happy striker (Duvan Zapata?).
Last week: 7
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

8. Watford — A four-match unbeaten run has asked a lot of questions about Javi Gracia‘s Hornets, who sit seventh but could have a stranglehold on it with any sort of consistency in anything other than inconsistency.
Last week: 8
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

7. Wolves — A riot of a win versus Leicester City snaps a two-match skid and sets Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men up to claim pole position in the race for seventh and a Europa League berth.
Last week: 9
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

6. Chelsea *New season low* Maurizio Sarri is correct. As was Antonio Conte. And Jose Mourinho. Chelsea is incredibly talented, and just as entitled.
Last week: 5
Season high: 1
Season low: 6

5. Arsenal — A nice win over struggling Chelsea, sure, but Manchester United in the FA Cup and Man City in the league stretch across their next three outings.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

4. Manchester United — Getting past Friday’s FA Cup match with Arsenal would probably get Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to the Champions League unbeaten as United boss.
Last week: 5
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

3. Tottenham Hotspur — Not really their fault unless you want to explore their summer window a bit more, but Dele Alli and Harry Kane out until March hits their chances hard. A run of home matches against winnable opponents stops them from sinking lower than Chelsea.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

2. Man City — The big question isn’t whether City will win enough points, it’s whether Liverpool will drop four more than the reigning champions.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

1. Liverpool — Kept it interesting against feisty Crystal Palace, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain‘s forthcoming return will only serve to strengthen their chances of outgunning anyone who dares draw on the Reds.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

Oxlade-Chamberlain back in Liverpool training

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in Liverpool training, nine months after a horrible injury cost him the chance to appear in the UEFA Champions League Final.

Initially ruled out for the duration of the 2018-19 season following an ACL year, “The Ox” is giving the Reds a boost in Dubai.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

The 25-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain posted five goals and seven assists in his first season at Liverpool.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has 32 England caps and 283 senior appearances between Southampton, Arsenal, and Liverpool. He left the Gunners in part because of a desire to play a more central role in the midfield.

Oxlade-Chamberlain detailed his recovery late last year. There’s yet to be discussion of when he might be fit to return to match play, but Liverpool will be careful with its industrious playmaker.

Top 5 Premier League games of 2018

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As we continue our Best Of series on the final day of 2018, we look back on what was a wild ride in the English top flight. Between Manchester City’s dominance, Liverpool’s rise, Manchester United’s roller coaster ride, Tottenham’s slow evolution, and the rest of the league’s parity, we were gifted with some fabulous and entertaining results. Here are the ones that gave us the most enjoyment in what was a fantastic pool to choose from.

5) Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United

In just a few days, one of these teams would secure one of the most dominant Premier League title runs in the history of the league. One of these teams would sack its manager before the calendar year was out. And yet, that is not how this game unfolded.

[ MORE: Best of 2018 series ]

Needing a win to secure the Premier League title – a win they would get a few days later – City opened the game 2-0 in front by the half-hour mark. Vincent Kompany scored a thumping header – his first league goal since the final day of the previous season – and Ilkay Gundogan doubled the lead in the 30th minute on a fabulous spin. From there, City would completely lose its shooting boots, allowing their rivals to come back into the game. Gundogan hit the bar minutes after his goal, and Paul Pogba scored after the break to bring United within one. Pogba would find another moments later with a perfect header, and that would lead to Chris Smalling‘s winner in the 69th minute. David De Gea had to make a stunning save on Sergio Aguero’s header, and again on Raheem Sterling who had a tap-in but barely made contact. This Manchester derby was the stuff of legends, although the losers in this battle ultimately won the war.

4) Liverpool 2-2 Tottenham

Liverpool gave us goals upon goals upon goals in the 2017/18 season – and are continuing to do so in this campaign – so they rightly appear multiple times on this list. For this wonderful game from last season, three goals were scored in the final 10 minutes of regulation plus stoppage time as the teams split the points. Mohamed Salah scored just three minutes into the match thanks to a terrible mistake by Eric Dier, and 1-0 was the score all the way through until the final 10 minutes when game elevated to bonkers status.

In the 80th minute, Victory Wanyama scored an absolute missile into the top corner after Karius punched an earlier effort, a goal worthy to be the trigger to the wild portion of this game. With three minutes to go in regulation, Karius sliced down Harry Kane in the penalty area, but the ensuing spot-kick by Kane was right down the middle and Karius stood firm to keep it out. In the first minute of stoppage time, Salah grabbed his second weaving through traffic to send Jurgen Klopp flying down the sidelines, but with the absolute last kick of the game, Virgil Van Dijk hacked at Erik Lamela‘s leg and Kane could atone from the penalty spot, scoring to level the match.

3) Arsenal 4-2 Tottenham

What would this list be without a pulsating North London derby? With the chance to jump Spurs in the table, Arsenal won a back-and-forth game that saw the winning goal scored with 15 minutes remaining. While the Gunners jumped out to a 1-0 lead, Spurs went 2-1 up before halftime on a Harry Kane penalty after Rob Holding fouled Heung-Min Son in the area. After halftime, it was all Gunners as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leveled the score and Alexandre Lacazette came off the bench to put the hosts up for good. Lucas Torreira bagged his first Arsenal goal with 13 minutes remaining for the icing on the cake.

The game wasn’t without the usual vitriol, as Eric Dier equalized at 1-1 before celebrating in front of Arsenal fans, causing a small melee that saw Gunners substitutes get involved, as well as Spurs head coach Mauricio Pochettino who came running in to help break things up. Pochettino after the match blamed recent European play for Spurs’ second-half meltdown, and while Arsenal temporarily had control of the table for a short time, Spurs would eventually jump back ahead of them and remain in front by Christmas.

2) Manchester City 2-3 Crystal Palace

It’s absolutely incredible that Manchester City has proven so dominant of late, and yet they appear on this list three times – all losses. When you’re at the top, there’s a target on your back, and that has proven the case with City this season. Crystal Palace became the second team to take down the defending champions this campaign, and did so in come-from-behind fashion.

Ilkay Gundoguan put Man City ahead just before the half-hour mark, but the visitors at the Etihad would score the next three, including THAT goal from Andros Townsend, a strike that will be tough to beat for Goal of the Season. After the match, Roy Hodgson said Townsend had “one of those bonanza days,” and he couldn’t have picked a better stage to perform at such a level.

1) Liverpool 4-3 Manchester City

Last season’s match of the year has yet to be beaten, a thrilling January match between two heavyweights that set the stage for the coming calendar year. It was the first loss of the entire league season for Man City, coming in Liverpool’s first game without Philippe Coutinho (remember him?). It provided the blueprint for beating Manchester City, as Pep Guardiola lost just five Premier League matches the entire 2018 calendar year, and three of them appear on this list.

With the teams even at 1-1 at the break thanks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Leroy Sane, the Reds pounced on either side of the hour mark. Roberto Firmino bagged the first, and Sadio Mane scored the goal of the game with a blast into the top corner on a break. Ederson made a rare mistake to gift Liverpool a fourth, which proved to be decisive as City scored two goals in the final six minutes to give the Reds a scare. It was a scintillating match, and one that we’ll remember as the best of the year.

Klopp: The Ox could be back in training in two to three months

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Liverpool received some positive news this week regarding the recovery of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

At a press conference Friday, Jurgen Klopp revealed that Oxlade-Chamberlain has responded well to jogging outside on the pitch and should there be no set backs, he could be back in full training as soon as February or March. Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered a devastating right knee injury, in which multiple ligaments were damaged including the ACL and MCL. That’s led to a longer recovery than the standard six-to-nine months it usually takes to return from a torn ACL.

[LISTEN: The Two Robbies Podcast]

The injury cost Oxlade-Chamberlain both the UEFA Champions League final and the 2018 World Cup, where England made a run to the semifinals, but should Liverpool remain top of the league and in Champions League contention, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return would be a huge boost to the midfield, providing Klopp with another box-to-box option.

Of course, it remains to be seen if Oxlade-Chamberlain still has his explosive pace after this serious knee injury, or whether he’ll be forced to adjust his game slightly if he can’t create a yard of space with just his movement off the ball. In the meantime, Liverpool has Fabinho and Naby Keita filling central midfield roles in Oxlade-Chamberlain’s absence.