Rio Ferdinand has told Five’s YouTube channel that he thinks Trent Alexander-Arnold needs to improve in 1v1 situations if he is to become a complete defender.
Alexander-Arnold, 21, endured a torrid afternoon alongside his Liverpool back-line as Jurgen Klopp’s team were comprehensibly beaten 4-1 by Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday.
Ferdinand on Alexander-Arnold
The England international himself was culpable for allowing Raheem Sterling far too much space and allowance to get into Liverpool’s box and cause problems.
Sterling, 26, scored his first goal at Anfield since leaving the Reds for City back in 2015, and Ferdinand believes that the former Liverpool star exposed key areas of Alexander-Arnold’s game where he needs to improve.
“Now it’s up to Trent. It’s going to be really interesting to see,” he said.
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“He’s had a bit of a down-turn of form, what’s your comeback now? How are you going to get yourself to the level we’ve seen and that everyone has been going crazy over?
“That comes down to looking within, looking at yourself, going through clips where you haven’t done well.
“Why am I getting beat 1v1 yesterday? Why haven’t I controlled that situation? That’s what he’ll have to be talking to his coaches about and looking at himself and finding ways to do it.
“Look at Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Man United. He always does well against Sterling 1v1 against Sterling because that’s his game, that’s his strength.
“1v1 he loves it. Whereas Trent’s strengths are elsewhere in his game, but to be complete, he’ll have to get these 1v1 situations locked down.”
What RTK has to say
While Ferdinand makes some good points, it’s unfair to delve too much into Alexnader-Arnold’s shortcomings at the back. He has never been renowned for his defensive qualities, after all.
The West Derby full-back has based his game on creativity in the final third. Unfortunately, as a result of injuries to key players such as Virgil van Dijk, Alexander-Arnold no longer has that same licence to attack.
With the likes of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho forced to deputies in defence, Alexander-Arnold is expected to offer greater cover at the back. And as a result, his attacking output has dried up while he has greater exposure in defence.
Indeed, a player of Alexander-Arnold’s quality should be doing better, but it’s important to look at a number of determining factors that are having a detrimental effect on his game. These aren’t excuses, but facts.
With Van Dijk and Joe Gomez at the heart of the defence, as well as, a disciplined midfield triumvirate of Henderson, Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum, Liverpool had an extensive number of cover options which enabled the full-backs to get up the pitch.
Suddenly, this luxury has evaporated as a result of mitigating circumstances, and Alexander-Arnold has been made to suffer.
So, it seems Liverpool need to identify a defensive solution and quick. It’s become obvious that both Henderson and Fabinho cannot remain in defence.
Integrating deadline-day signings Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies, then, into the defensive picture could suddenly become a priority for Klopp in the coming weeks.