Article by Adam Brown @ScouseAdamMV
While some reporters state that Trent Alexander-Arnold’s call-up to the England squad is a surprise, the Liverpool defender’s consistency throughout the season would suggest that it would have been more of a surprise had he not been selected.
Since the homegrown defender made his debut in 2016 in a League Cup victory against Spurs, the converted right-back, who was initially playing in central midfield, has made giant strides in his second season with the first team.
Amongst the first signs of the defender’s glowing progress was the free kick against Hoffenheim, in which he secured an away goal to help Liverpool progress from the Champions League qualifying stages. Nine months on, the 19-year-old is under a week away from the final in Kiev.
It is in the Champions League where the Reds defender has shown the capability to deal with high-pressure situations. Noticeably, against Manchester City where Leroy Sane was unable to make an impact. Trent showed his ability to execute a game plan, defending tremendously throughout both ties.
Not just that, Alexander-Arnold also displayed the composure on the ball that you would expect more from a veteran. It’s a consistency and adeptness in passing, a noticeable ability to play positive, forward passes. Commonly with young defenders, particularly fullbacks, many will only excel in one area in terms of attacking and defending – such as a player who is great going forward, but will constantly give fans a headache at the back with shambolic positioning. For Alexander-Arnold, however, it’s clear that despite his young age, the Liverpool defender is already looking like a seasoned professional in both necessary elements of a modern fullback and still has so much potential.
In terms of crossing this season, Alexander-Arnold has registered a 17% success rate, in comparison with 9% for Kyle Walker and 19% for Kieran Trippier. Given Walker’s reputation, it’s likely a surprise to many fans that his completion percentage is the lowest. To Liverpool fans, however, this will come as no surprise. Anfield has witnessed countless crosses of high quality from Trent, he’s unlucky to have only registered two assists this campaign.
Additionally, out of the English trio, the Reds defender has recorded the most interceptions per game. Whilst Walker and Trippier produced 0.90 and 0.83 interceptions respectively, TAA has registered an average of 1.47 interceptions per game, highlighting an ability to read the game, demonstrated on numerous occasions this season, especially during Liverpool’s 5-2 victory against Roma.
Whilst Walker and Trippier have won more duels than Alexander-Arnold, it’s clear that in some areas, such as attacking, the youngster could excel for England. TAA has created 1.31 chances per game this season higher than the figure of 0.90 for Kyle Walker, but, lower than Trippier’s production of 1.66. Of course, we must consider the playing styles of the teams The Spurs man is always likely to have the highest production rate from continuous balls to Harry Kane while Liverpool offer much more variance in attack.
At the World Cup, the Three Lions can expect to come up against stubborn, defensive outfits who look like they have been coached by Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce, which only increases the importance of an attacking fullback to stretch the game.
As well as that, Gareth Southgate’s recent team selections indicate that Kyle Walker could be deployed centrally in a 3-5-2 setup, which is a sign that the Liverpool right-back is even more of an ideal call-up for the England team.
In any case, the notion that players need the opportunity to be able prove themselves at the highest level applies and, given the performances of Alexander-Arnold this season, it is a thoroughly deserved spot on the plane to Russia.
The Liverpool man isn’t going to make up the numbers, and he will prove that, especially in games where he will have the freedom to attack. Alexander-Arnold’s attacking and defensive abilities make him an ideal fit for the right-midfield role in England’s 3-5-2 set up.
Article by Adam Brown @ScouseAdamMV
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