Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has highlighted Liverpool’s ability to ‘find a way’ when not at their best as a key reason for their Premier League title triumph last season.
Liverpool were crowned as champions of England for the first time in three decades following a record-breaking season for Jurgen Klopp’s side, winning 32 of their 38 league fixtures to wrap up the title with a record seven games to spare.
Despite that dominance, however, Oxlade-Chamberlain insists that he and his teammates were not always at their best, but believes the club’s ability to grind out results when playing poorly provided the platform for a long-awaited title triumph.
That ability was once again evident as the Reds began the new campaign with a thrilling 4-3 victory over Leeds, Mohamed Salah’s late penalty securing victory after the newly-promoted side had threatened to cause a shock on Merseyside.
“When I look back on the season, as amazing as it was, there were a lot of times when I wasn’t happy with how I’d played, personally,” Oxlade-Chamberlain told Goal.
“That’s me being honest with myself, which I think you have to be. I know I can do better, and I don’t think I was the only one who thought that.
“But if you look at the season before, when we finished second, we had a lot more games where we won 3-0 or 4-0. The difference last season, and it was obvious, was that in the games we didn’t play well in, we were still able to win 1-0 or 2-1. We’d find a way.
“We were drawing those games before. We’d win 4-0 and look unbelievable, then we’d not quite be on it and we’d draw 1-1, and drop points. That didn’t happen this time.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain has insisted that the Reds maintain their hunger for further improvement by being fiercely critical of their own performances, their honest approach ensuring standards don’t drop at Anfield.
“We are always honest with ourselves,” he said. “There were a lot of games last season where we’d come off and say ‘that wasn’t good enough’ even if we’d won.
“Salzburg is one. Remember that one at home in the Champions League?”
That Salzburg game had echoes of the weekend’s end-to-end clash with Leeds as the Austrian’s fought back from three goals down to level, only for Salah to once again bail out Klopp’s side with a decisive winner.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has recalled the atmosphere surrounding the full-time whistle, admitting the performance felt like a defeat despite sealing an important three points.
“If you’d been in the dressing room after that game, you’d have thought we’d lost,” the midfielder added.
“Everyone’s heads were down because of how the game had gone. The manager kind of had to come in and lift us. He said ‘I know that wasn’t great but you’ve just won a Champions League game 4-3!’
“He knew we weren’t happy, but that’s the base that’s kept us going. We are never satisfied, even when we are winning. We know we can do things better.
“Listen, it’s never perfect and it never will be, but you still have to try to be as individuals and as a team. You have to want more.”