Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was delighted to contribute significantly for Liverpool again in Saturday's 2-1 Premier League win at Southampton.
The midfielder made his first league start since April 14, 2018 against one of his former clubs and performed strongly to help make it six points out of six for Jürgen Klopp’s team.
After the final whistle confirmed a hard-fought result secured by Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino goals, Oxlade-Chamberlain explained the emotion of being at the heart of a victory.
“It was nice to be back out there. In a winning performance is always nice as well,” the No.15 told Liverpoolfc.com at St Mary’s.
“In the first half I felt my way into it a bit and got to grips with what’s what. You have to play off triggers; so when Trent [Alexander-Arnold] gets the ball, it’s about getting back into rhythm with my movements off him and Mo [Salah] and the rest of the team. I think in the second half I settled into a bit better.
“I had an alright game, a decent game but the main thing was I wanted to make sure I focused on the defensive duties and making sure I was putting in the work and had the legs to help the boys. I’m glad we did that as a team.
“On a personal level, it’s nice for me, it has been a while since I started but I’m delighted that I could help contribute to the team because that’s what I’ve missed so much, being able to contribute and help this set of players to achieve things. It was really nice to be back out there.”
There were fewer than 72 hours between Liverpool’s energy-sapping UEFA Super Cup success in Istanbul and kick-off on the south coast on Saturday.
But Oxlade-Chamberlain revealed that the mentality in the squad ahead of the game meant nobody would allow fatigue to influence their display.
“We knew it was going to be a tough ask but we said straight after the game [in midweek] there were no excuses about playing 120 minutes for some of the lads or travel,” he said.
“The fixtures are there and you’ve got to go and win them. We didn’t want to come off the pitch with any excuses as to why we didn’t get the right result.
“We suffered in patches but we managed to come through them, which we knew was going to happen and we knew we had to do, so that’s really positive.
“We played some really good stuff in parts as well. We were under the cosh a bit at the end. But it was absolutely brilliant from the boys; after a big midweek, to come and do that at a tough place [shows] what we’re made of.”
A scrappy opening 45 minutes was highlighted by Mane’s outstanding curler to open the scoring just moments before half-time.
Liverpool improved after the break and doubled their advantage through Firmino, but a late Danny Ings response for Saints – an Adrian clearance striking the former Reds man and going into the net – kept the contest alive until the final whistle.
Oxlade-Chamberlain felt the visitors merited the three points for the way they dug in, though.
“At 2-0 that’s as comfortable as you’d probably feel in an away game at a place like this; we were controlling the game, keeping the ball well, creating chances,” the Englishman reflected.
“You can concede a goal and everything just flips like that. But you’ve got to expect that throughout the season and you’ve got to be able to withstand those moments.
“They had a few chances, they could have scored perhaps but we probably had more that we could have scored as well. So overall, on the balance of the play we deserved the win.
“The boys had to dig in deep, it was brilliant character from us. That’s what this team is made of and we’re going to have to keep doing that.”