Peter Crouch has urged Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp to resist the temptation to start Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Manchester City this weekend.
Liverpool host Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday in an encounter which will have huge implications on this season’s title race, the league leaders currently six-points ahead of Pep Guardiola’s side ahead of the latest instalment of what is a growing rivalry between the division’s top two.
Many have suggested that England midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain should start against the Premier League champions this weekend, the 26-year-old having scored four goals in his past three starts as he continues to work his way back from a long-term injury that saw him miss virtually the entirety of last season.
Despite Oxlade-Chamberlain’s promising return, former Liverpool forward Crouch has urged caution when it comes to playing the midfielder in such a high stakes encounter, and has urged Klopp to resist the temptation to field a player he believes is not ‘quite ready yet’.
“I don’t think he’s quite ready yet,” Crouch said on BT Sport.
“He’s getting up to full fitness but what he is doing, he’s scoring goals and it’s a priceless commodity to have.
“I just think he’s not quite there to be starting games of the magnitude of the weekend but he’s knocking on the door as you say.
“But at the moment I think Liverpool have got a settled side, why would you change a winning team? They win every single week.
“Not always the most comfortable but they’re winning and I think they’ll keep the same side.
“I think behind closed doors [Klopp] will be asking more of him but what he does offer is something completely different to the [Jordan] Hendersons, the [Georginio] Wijnaldums and the Fabinhos.
4 – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored four goals in his last four games for Liverpool; as many as in his previous 45 appearances for the club. Mixing. pic.twitter.com/wIGLas79oq
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 5, 2019
“He can go wide, he can beat people, he’s good on the ball and he’s an attacking threat.
“I just think, when you play someone like Man City, that three in midfield gives the full-backs license to go and I think sometimes he’s a bit too forward-thinking at times.”