Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp opted to use Trent Alexander-Arnold as a supporting midfielder when in possession against Arsenal, but the full-back struggled in defense despite Roberto Firmino’s late goal to level the score at 2-2. Super Sunday
By: Gary Neville, football pundit @GNev2:
21:49, Great Britain, Sunday 09 April 2023
Gary Neville believes it is too late for Trent Alexander-Arnold to train in his new role at Liverpool after testing Jurgen Klopp in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal.
Alexander-Arnold has exposed his defensive shortcomings at times this season as Liverpool have struggled to emulate their quadruple chase in 2021/22.
Gareth Southgate overlooked the Liverpool right-back in his last England appearance and in last weekend’s 4-1 defeat by Manchester City, Klopp opted to field the 24-year-old in defensive midfield when he played. possession in Sunday’s entertaining draw with Arsenal.
A tactical change produced mixed results with Alexander-Arnold struggling to tackle Gabriel Martinelli in the first half as Mikel Arteta’s title-chasing Gunners secured a deserved 2-0 lead at Anfield.
Alexander-Arnold played his part in the fightback, almost literally, as the game swung momentum, accidentally or otherwise, after a tussle between Granit Xhaka and the full-back that infuriated an already raucous home crowd.
Mohamed Salah headed home just before half-time and although he later missed a penalty, Liverpool’s pressure showed when Roberto Firmino headed in an 87th-minute equalizer from Alexander-Arnold’s cross.
Speaking on his podcast Sky SportsNeville said Klopp should avoid using Alexander-Arnold in a specialist central position.
“He was absolutely sensational going forward,” she said. “I don’t know what to say about him anymore because his defensive game is so bad. Some of the positions he takes to defend the direct pass against Martinelli are that of a schoolboy.
I hope that somehow the penny drops over the summer and he realizes that his defensive work is hurting him.
“I don’t understand it. But some of his attacking play, passing and bravery despite those mistakes have to be admired. I admire him.
“Alexander-Arnold would have moved into midfield anyway given the freedom that right-back gives him, but if he’s actually dropped to play in midfield away from home in the Premier League and he’s got the ball in, he’s got the back to play, that’s with a different ball. it is a game:
“Some of the best midfielders in the world, Xavis, Iniestas, are the ones who can control the ball and Rodri does that very well. Frankly, Trent wouldn’t be able to do it.
“It’s something we’ve said before about Declan Rice and his ability to get the ball on the half-turn. You must be a top gamer who spent hundreds of games as a kid looking over your shoulder.
“I’ve heard many times in the past that full-backs can play in midfield… ‘he can play wide, he can play wing-forward’, no they can’t. That’s why they are. full backs.
“I think he can play fullback. Jurgen Klopp tried to play him in a different position today, he tried to push him into midfield, like Zinchenko, like John Stones, but he could certainly play full-back as he is. a right-sided centre-back who can cross the channel to deal with direct balls.
“He doesn’t need to become the best defender in the world. He just can’t be held responsible. He doesn’t necessarily have to be a great defender offensively. I don’t think anyone is asking for it. .
“You’re just asking for a little competence and attention to your work. The conversation will continue about him. I hope that somehow the penny drops in the summer and he realizes that his defensive work is hurting him.
“It hurts him because he has been left out of the England squad. How can that talent be left out of the England squad?
“When you play an out-of-form team like Liverpool, those weaknesses are exposed a bit more.”
Roy Keane on Alexander-Arnold
“What surprises me with Trent is because we see him week in, week out, it’s like he’s never played that position before. He is an experienced player who has played hundreds of games and won several big prizes.
“When people move quickly around him, it’s like he never saw it. He has to see it every day in training, and he faces it when he plays a high-level match, but he is surprised every time someone makes a good move.
“He hasn’t learned at all in terms of his defensive game over the last couple of years. He hasn’t improved at all defensively.”
A move to midfield doesn’t solve the Alexander-Arnold dilemma
Sky Sports’ Peter Smith.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s struggles in one-on-one situations defensively are no secret. They were on display within two minutes on Sunday when Gabriel Martinelli beat him too easily to set up Arsenal’s chance.
But Jurgen Klopp had come up with an idea, perhaps inspired by the visitors’ use of Oleksandr Zinchenko, and Alexander-Arnold spent most of this game on the pitch, forming part of Liverpool’s midfield.
Playing as part of a defensive pairing in midfield with Fabinho, the plan was to move Alexander-Arnold away from head-on collisions with Martinelli, balancing the numerical balance in the center of the pitch, but still keeping him in positions to deliver. deliver his dangerous crosses from the right channel.
This renowned attacking prowess was evident when Roberto Firmino equalized with a cross. Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville described him as a “sensation” playing earlier in the game and no player on the pitch created more chances. But his new position has also made Liverpool look unusual at the back. Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk looked badly exposed in the opening half hour.
Interestingly, both of Arsenal’s goals came when Alexander-Arnold dropped back to the right-back position. in the first he failed to catch Martinelli and in the second his body shape was criticized by pundits for an over the top ball.
Alexander-Arnold was a long-debated proposition in midfield. If that’s something Klopp is going to put up with, it will take some work on the pitch to build a rapport between Alexander-Arnold and the defenders behind him. But Jamie Carragher’s counter-suggestion is that if Liverpool are better as a team, Alexander-Arnold is less vulnerable.
After seeing him in midfield against Arsenal, the jury is still out on whether this is a long-term solution.
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