Things went from hero to zero within the space of minutes.
Jürgen Klopp will have winced on the sidelines when he saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain writhing on the ground. As the scorer of Liverpool’s second goal — which came just minutes earlier — hobbled off against Brentford, Anfield let out its breath in a collective sigh.
Another injury was the last thing the club needed in the absence of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané; it is one that will complicate Klopp’s job in the coming week, and one that has tainted Liverpool’s impressive victory over Brentford.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s performance on Liverpool’s right flank was nothing extraordinary in comparison to Salah, but it was adequate to say the least, and a major improvement on Takumi Minamino’s tame effort on the flanks against Arsenal earlier this week.
His directness and rapid burst of pace was a constant nuisance to Brentford’s defenders on the night, and allowed him to sneak in behind to score his first Premier League goal of the season.
Chamberlain is much better suited to the position than Minamino, and he is arguably the club’s first choice option to play on the right-wing in Salah’s absence.
But now, Liverpool face an anxious wait to discover the extent of the damage Oxlade-Chamberlain has suffered.
“Unfortunately he rolled his ankle. It’s swollen. I hope it’s not serious, but that’s a shadow on the game,” Klopp told reporters.
Depending on the swelling, it seems unlikely that Oxlade-Chamberlain will be available for selection, which leaves Klopp with scant options to chose from as Liverpool prepare to take on Arsenal and Crystal Palace next week — both in the capital.
Minamino and Curtis Jones are both better-suited to playing through the middle, while Divock Origi is still injured for the time-being, although he is nearing a return. It will surely come too early for Harvey Elliott, who is making good progress in his recovery but must not be rushed back.
That leaves 17-year-old Kaide Gordon — who became the second-youngest goal-scorer in the club’s history against Shrewsbury last weekend — with a golden opportunity.
Gordon made a cameo appearance for Liverpool against Brentford, edging ahead of Raheem Sterling into fourth on the list of Liverpool’s youngest league debutants. His mere ten minute display showed signs of a lively and active player oozing with confidence.
Had it not been for an outstanding one vs one stop by the Brentford goalkeeper, Gordon could have easily made it two goals in three senior appearances for the club.
He might be extremely young and raw, but he is the most suited to playing the right-winger role in Klopp’s current system, and he has shown he does not look out of place playing among seniors.
Liverpool will have to be careful in managing his load, and it would be a gamble to give Gordon another start in games of more significance than his previous starts against Norwich and Shrewsbury, but it could just pay off.
It would certainly not be an anomaly in the club’s history. The likes of Harvey Elliott, Michael Owen and Raheem Sterling have been tasked with senior roles at a similar age in the past, and history may just repeat itself once again.