For a time now, there has been been an on-going debate to move Trent Alexander-Arnold into central midfield with some supporters believing Liverpool’s most creative asset is wasted at right-back.
The 21-year-old has recently emerged as the best right-sided full-back in world football following 18 months of unrivalled success that culminated in Alexander-Arnold becoming the youngest ever player to start in back-to-back Champions League finals.
The idea of Alexander-Arnold eventually moving into midfield never seemed logical amongst the majority of the fanbase with Liverpool lacking a right-back of the same calibre as the Scouser in our team.
However, Liverpool’s clash at Chelsea gave us our first real insight into what our strongest back-four could look like if Alexander-Arnold were to one day move into the middle of the park.
For the first time this season, Klopp utilised a defensive quartet that contained Andy Robertson, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and 18-year-old Neco Williams.
The Welsh-born full-back has been hugely impressive for the Reds this season having started in all of Liverpool’s previous FA Cup matches.
Williams gave a mature and assured performance but sadly Klopp’s defensive unit failed to demonstrate whether this could be a sustainable system going forward.
This wasn’t due to the performance of Williams by any means, in fact, the U23s star was arguably Liverpool’s standout defender in the 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
However, Liverpool desperately lacked Alexander-Arnold’s delivery from set-pieces. Although Williams can strike a venomous cross from multiple sections of the pitch, the teenager wasn’t entrusted to oversee the Reds’ set-piece duties in the absence of his fellow academy graduate.
Bizarrely, it was Fabinho who was spotted taking corners and free-kicks for the visitors who failed to demonstrate their usual cutting edge from set-pieces.
Liverpool have scored 16 league goals (including penalties) from set-pieces so far this season, more than any other team. Last season, they topped that table with 29 set-piece goals. Bournemouth and Manchester United were joint second on 21.
However, with Alexander-Arnold out of the team, there wasn’t enough sustained evidence that the Liverpool-born defender is best suited away from his usual right-back duties.
Already, the England international has more assists (24) from full-back than any other player in the PL since the start of last season.
Although it was an experiment worth trying, for the meantime, Liverpool’s strongest back-four has proven it doesn’t need to be tinkered with going forward.