Liverpool’s latest signing Trent Alexander-Arnold is one of football’s most polarizing players, giving Jurgen Klopp more good than bad in a win over Milan.
Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold is among football’s most polarising players, giving Klopp more good than bad in win over Milan.
Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool, England.
Simply mentioning the Liverpool defender’s name will elicit a deluge of commentary on his talents and shortcomings — as well as his best position — as the world’s greatest right-back, or most overrated, depending on your perspective. And it was the night of Liverpool’s 3-2 victory over AC Milan in their Champions League group-stage opening that he provided both parties with all the evidence they needed to back up their claims.
Alexander-Arnold had some fantastic moments, such as a goal-bound shot deflected off Fikayo Tomori for Liverpool’s first goal, and he had some terrible ones, such as when he switched off and allowed Milan to score twice in a row before halftime. The Italians repeatedly found space down their left flank, with Alexander-Arnold chasing shadows behind them. One minute he was tearing down the right, causing havoc for the Milan defenders, the next he was sprinting to get back into position as the Italians repeatedly found space down their left flank, with Alexander-Arnold chasing shadows behind them.
It was entertaining to see in many ways. Alexander-Arnold is such a gifted athlete that he was typically able to return to his original location in record speed. But he must, at some point, iron out the faults that continue to provide ammo for his numerous critics to criticize and point out his inadequacies.
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When Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are removed from the equation, as well as the never-ending debate between the two football superstars’ fervent fan bases, it’s difficult to find a player who divides opinion as vehemently as the 22-year-old who is, without a doubt, an absolutely crucial cog in Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team. Alexander-Arnold is of lesser importance to England manager Gareth Southgate, who left the Champions League champion out of his team earlier this year and then used him in midfield against Andorra in a recent World Cup qualifier.
However, Klopp and Southgate’s radically different views neatly encapsulate the Alexander-Arnold issue. On the one hand, he is a rampaging wing-back with one of the most powerful right-foot deliveries in the global game, but he is also a defender who goes missing far too frequently for a player whose main job is to, well, defend.
At least six key moments in this tense Group B match highlighted Alexander-strengths Arnold’s and weaknesses.
On the plus side, his ninth-minute sprint into the Milan penalty area and low shot sailed over goalie Mike Maignan for the game’s opening goal. Then there came the Alexander-Arnold cross, from which Joel Matip flew directly into Maignan’s grasp.
In the second half, he provided a near-post corner that resulted to Jordan Henderson’s winning goal for Liverpool, which was headed away by Ismael Bennacer. Alexander-Arnold also had a 20-yard shot saved, and he initiated the play from which Mohamed Salah made it 2-2 early in the second half, after a penalty was saved in the first half.
Both Milan goals, on the other hand, came from Alexander-area Arnold’s of the field. He lost Ante Rebic with the first, allowing the Croatian striker to equalize against the flow of play. After Alexander-Arnold was caught offside on the halfway line two minutes later, Milan’s second goal was scored by Rebic and Brahim Diaz. Just a minute after assisting on Henderson’s goal, Alexander-Arnold lost Rebic for the second time, and was only saved from humiliation by goalkeeper Alisson rushing off his line to deny the Milan striker.
It got a little wild at times. Huge highs and lows in a matter of seconds. But, at least for Liverpool, Alexander-talents Arnold’s much exceed his flaws.
His offensive abilities were crucial in Liverpool’s Champions League victory in 2019 and Premier League championship a year later. On his best days, he’s unstoppable.
In Liverpool’s victory against Milan on Wednesday, Trent Alexander-Arnold was at his best and worst. Getty
However, since his defensive skills isn’t on par with his attacking style, a dispute about his ideal position has erupted.
Southgate believes it is in midfield, while former England captain Gary Lineker got into a Twitter spat with ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher over the same topic. Lineker argued that his offensive abilities and passing range would be best used in midfield, while Carragher countered that he currently plays so far forward that he is effectively a midfielder, but one who is much more useful on the right flank.
Meanwhile, Klopp is certain of his greatest role: “Why would you turn the world’s finest right-back into a midfielder? That’s something I’m not sure of.”
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Alexander-Arnold, on the other hand, is arguably no longer a player with a set position. He played so high up the right flank against Milan, and whenever he plays for Liverpool, that it would be inaccurate to label him a right-back, particularly because he also drifts inside to midfield. Because their right-back — if that’s what he is — was playing as a right winger, Liverpool looked like they were playing with a back three most of the time.
Forwards who wander across the attacking third are among our options. Alexander-Arnold may be a new kind of fullback that floats up and down, inside and outside, and you have to take the good with the bad.
Alexander-Arnold will continue to be Liverpool’s heartbeat as long as he has the amazing energy levels that enable him to cover so much distance backwards and forwards. They play in a flurry of offensive waves when he’s on form, making them one of the favorites to win the Champions League.
However, when he loses focus and finds himself 30 or 40 yards out of position, Liverpool becomes weaker and more susceptible, and they are more likely to surrender against a rival Champions League contender, which is why the Alexander-Arnold argument will go on long beyond this victory over Milan.
However, one thing is certain: Klopp and Liverpool adore him exactly as he is. What about people on the other side of the debate? They’re not going to change anytime soon, either.
Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold is among football’s most polarising players, giving Klopp more good than bad in win over Milan. Reference: liverpool vs aston villa espn.
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