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Friday, February 23, 2024

Alexander-Arnold can be central to Liverpool plans despite Klopp caution –

Trent Alexander-Arnold is back to his best at Liverpool, yet questions persist regarding where he should be played. 

Having made his name as a marauding right-back, Jurgen Klopp adapted his role to an inverted position, where he drifts into central midfield. 

This caught the attention of England manager Gareth Southgate, who has been starting the 25-year-old in the middle of the park. 

Ahead of Liverpool’s Europa League match with LASK, we take a look at Alexander-Arnold’s evolution and where his positional future lies. 

City performance

Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City last Saturday highlighted the perceived strengths and weaknesses of Alexander-Arnold. 

When Pep Guardiola’s team had the ball, they invariably played it to Jeremy Doku to dribble at the Reds’ vice-captain. 

It seems likely that the idea was to exploit Alexander-Arnold’s lack of defensive quality, while limiting his attacking forays. Ultimately it did not work. 

While Doku was a constant menace, he failed to contribute to a goal. Meanwhile, Liverpool’s No66 smashed home the equaliser. 

In his post-match interview, Alexander-Arnold gave his take on how things went for him. 

He said: “I think there was potentially a game plan to stop me from getting the ball in midfield. 

“At least that’s what it felt like, especially in the first half, a little bit of man-marking. I think Bernardo [Silva] was very close to me a lot when I was pulling inside. 

“So, it was about trying to get on the ball in different ways and I think I adapted to it. I tried to pull out a little bit wider.” 

Trent Alexander-Arnold operated as a traditional right-back at Manchester City

Klopp caution

Klopp’s decision to use Alexander-Arnold in an inverted full-back role towards the end of last season paid off handsomely. 

The academy product provided seven assists in the final 10 Premier League games. 

That return prompted debate as to whether Alexander-Arnold would remain in a hybrid role, or could even be used as a regular midfielder. 

The England international has instead been stepping into central areas slightly less often this season. 

With Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai now at Liverpool, there is a reduced need for midfield reinforcement, unless there is a real desire to create overloads. 

When recently quizzed about the matter, Klopp was cautious about a positional change. 

He said: “It is a possibility. It depends on the opponents and the situation and things like this but we know that he can play there.  

“For us, if we just put him there then we lose one of the best right-backs in the world and we should not forget that completely.” 

Trent Alexander-Arnold now plays as a midfielder for England
Trent Alexander-Arnold now plays as a midfielder for England

Carragher hope

Ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has addressed the lack of an alternative to Alexander-Arnold for the Reds.

He said: “Liverpool haven’t got a back-up for Alexander-Arnold as it’s difficult to get quality to sign to sit on the substitutes bench. 

“I would love Liverpool to acquire a right-back who could play in the big games and push Alexander-Arnold into midfield.” 

In contrast, England have an abundance of talent in that position, enabling Southgate to move the Kop hero.

With Alexander-Arnold in with a chance of starting at Euro 2024 in a midfield role, we could see a rare example of international form dictating a change at club level. 

For all that he has achieved, there remains a sense that there is more to come from the Anfield ace, should he literally become central to Liverpool’s plans.

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