Rarely can any kind of positive be taken from the complaint, ‘I’ve got a headache”. Except when it comes to football jargon, that is. Then it becomes a “nice headache to have” and more often than not it refers to a manager who has an embarrassment of riches which makes his squad and team selection tricky; hence the updated “nice headache to have”. This very much applies to Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp as he prepares for the international break. And the headache in question comes in the former of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the former Arsenal attacking midfielder who has been injured for more than a year and has slowly been reintegrated in to Klopp’s side. He is a dynamic, attack-minded, hard-working player with an eye for goal. in other words, a player who could easily enhance Klopp’s options as he looks to keep up the excellent record so far in this Premier League campaign.
The Reds, who are the current Champions League holders, sit top of the pile in the top flight following four wins from four games; against Norwich City at home, Southampton on the road, Arsenal at Anfield and, most recently, a 3-0 win at Sean Dyche’s Burnley. As mentioned, the international break sees players heading off to all corners of the planet to represent their country. And, indeed, the Ox has had the call from Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate to be involved in England’s Euro championship Group A qualifying matches against Bulgaria (at Wembley Stadium on September 7) and Kosovo (to be played at St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton on September 10).
Barring any new injuries to players in the break, Klopp will reassemble his squad intake to prepare for the home game against Newcastle United at Anfield on September 14. Despite a less than convincing start, the Geordies have rallied somewhat and beat Tottenham Hotspur at the new White Hart Lane two weeks ago and followed that victory up with a 1-1 draw at home to Watford. None the less, you would expect the Kop giants to be too strong for Steve Bruce’s men in the final analysis.
With the Toon encounter out of the way, Klopp will then start to shape his side for the upcoming game against Italian side Napoli as they begin their defence of the Euro champions crown. And the testing times for the Merseyside giants don’t stop there as a week later they go down to Stamford Bridge to face a Chelsea side still trying to get used to life under new boss Frank Lampard — and operating under a ban on bringing in new players. None the less, the game has traditionally had an edge to it and it should be yet another humdinger.