Jack Hallows details how Trent Alexander-Arnold has shown the best of both worlds across a perfect week for the young full-back.
After a schooling by Marcus Rashford at Old Trafford and a tough afternoon against Wilfried Zaha, many would have forgiven Jürgen Klopp for taking the young full-back out of the limelight. That, however, is not how our boss likes to operate.
It’s clear that when his players are down, Klopp looks for them to dig deep and find a big response. His belief in his troops can be to his own detriment at times but there are others where he gets his assessment of his players’ character spot on. Trent Alexander-Arnold is one of the latter.
The 19-year old has been impressive at times this season in the absence of Nathaniel Clyne and has provided pace, aggression and a further attacking threat down Liverpool’s right flank. In the last week though, we’ve seen him hit a new level.
Despite a man of the match performance at Anfield in the successful 3-0 first leg, Manchester City predictably opted to target the former under-18s captain once again at the Etihad, tasking Leroy Sane and David Silva with doubling up down the Reds’ right-hand side.
You’re never going to be able to keep Sane or Silva completely out of a home game for an entire 90 minutes but Trent came as close as anyone to doing so this season.
Thought of as Liverpool’s more attacking right back option, Trent showcased incredible maturity, discipline and positional sense to thwart City’s attempts to slice open his side of the defence.
The youngster made the most interceptions (6, the same amount as the entire City team managed), completed 3 tackles and made two clearances across the 90 minutes, finishing with a WhoScored rating of 7.00 – Liverpool’s average was 6.85 while City’s was 6.55.
Fast forward to Saturday afternoon at Anfield, against Bournemouth.
With no disrespect to the Cherries, Trent and Liverpool, in general, were never going to have to be quite as diligent defensively against Eddie Howe’s men and the 19-year old was the perfect example.
He was impressive defensively yet again, making 4 interceptions and winning 3 tackles but it was going forward that the young full-back truly excelled against the south coast side.
Finishing with a WhoScored rating of 8.6 – second only to Roberto Firmino (9.1) – the Englishman took 103 touches, completed 100% of his take ons, made 69 passes and created 4 goalscoring chances with one of those – a pinpoint accurate cross – the assist for Mo Salah’s 30th Premier League goal of the season.
Alexander-Arnold’s ability to not only offer himself as an outlet down the Reds’ right-hand side but provide quality final balls into the visitors’ area meant that the Reds attackers could spend far more time in the central areas of the pitch, getting as close to goal as possible.
His recovery pace also meant that despite spending the majority of his time camped high in the opposition half, he was on hand to help out defensively when required.
I don’t want to get carried away here as there has been evidence this season that our young fan-favourite has still got much to learn – he’s only 19 years old for god’s sake – but the last week has perfectly captured just why this young lad is rated so highly at Melwood.
His increasing maturity in defence, willingness to learn from his mistakes and improve wherever he can and the electricity he helps add to our already potent attack have all been on show and it looks as if finally, the rest of the footballing world is finally taking notice of this little gem that Klopp and his staff have uncovered.
Oh, and as an added bonus, he can hit a sweet free kick too.