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20th Jun 2023

Critics beware – the Trent Alexander Arnold ‘I told you so’ brigade is ready

Lee Costello

Trent Alexander Arnold

Maybe he isn’t so bad?

Few players have been criticised to the lengths that Liverpool’s Trent Alexander Arnold has been, but the stats don’t lie, and the ‘I told you so’ brigade are marching.

Alexander Arnold has won everything there is to win at domestic level with his home club Liverpool, so at just 24 years old he boasts a trophy cabinet that has the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Super Cup, FIFA World Cup and the Community Shield for good measure.

The Liverpudlian is a stalwart in Jurgen Klopp’s teams, has been undroppable during all of these successful seasons, and is also record-breaking, as he is now second in the Premier League table for top assists from a defender.

How then, you wonder, has he faced such vehement scrutiny from fans, pundits, commentators and keyboard warriors, who refuse to believe that this man is anything less than world class?

Trent Alexander Arnold

The answer is simple – he had a bad season. Well, for the most part anyway. With Klopp’s 4-3-3 formation designed to bring out the best in his defender’s attacking prowess, the right back was thriving when going forward.

However, by playing such a high line, and being so reliant on your midfield to do the donkey work in the final third, you risk being hugely exposed at the back.

This season Liverpool’s midfield was their greatest weakness, as they failed to buy anyone in the summer and players like Jordan Henderson, Thiago and James Milner were all another year further away from 30, and much more injury prone.

The likes of Naby Kieta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones were all injured for huge parts of the year, and the club became far too reliant on teenagers Harvey Elliot and Stefan Bajcetic to step up.

Trent Alexander Arnold

In many ways this left Alexander Arnold hanging out to dry, and week after week there would be clips of attackers beating him on that left flank, and fingers were pointed firmly at the young player’s performances.

Cue Klopp to make a slight adjustment, creating a right-back-midfielder-hybrid role that allowed the magician to work his magic more often, and his whole season changed.

Man of the match awards were being racked up for fun as he started increasing assists and goals, topping all of the stats in the best way possible.

Since first making that move during the second half of the match against Arsenal on the 9th April, the Englishman has since dominated all of the KPIs in the league.

Most touches, most final ⅓ passes, most passes into final ⅓, most possession won, most through balls, and most assists.

Alexander Arnold’s early season struggles meant that he was dropped from the England panel but not only has he been recalled to the team; for the first time in his career, he’s actually a key player.

Seeing the Anfield hero in his new role excited Gareth Southgate, who went one better than playing him as an inverted midfielder, and gave him the number 10 shirt.

In his first game he got Man of the Match and once again topped all of the key stats.

Critics are now facing a backlash of ‘I told you so’ merchants, but when you give it out, you have to take it too – not that any of this will change the opinions of the football know-it-alls.

However, stats don’t lie, and this is only the beginning of the Alexander Arnold evolution, because his ceiling is so high.

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