With Nathaniel Clyne set to miss Liverpool’s opening Premier League fixture against Watford next Saturday, having failed to feature prominently in pre-season due to hamstring and back injurie, Jurgen Klopp will have a decision to make at the back.
The boss has already confirmed that Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Jon Flanagan are in contention for a starting berth, with all three players having featured over the last few games ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.
So then, who starts at right-back for The Reds at Vicarage Road?
Gomez showed some really bright sparks before his ACL injury, dealing well with the physicality of England’s top tier and flying into the tackles down the right-hand side. Aerially, he stands up well to opposition and could provide a threat from set pieces at the other end of the pitch.
He impressed against Hertha BSC, with the 20-year-old displaying his versatility having started at right-back before switching to the middle. Such a trait will really appeal to Klopp, who’s options at the back are limited enough as it is.
Of course, we all know his favoured position is through the middle at centre-back and he certainly seems more suited there. However, he showed in 2015 he can play full-back confidently in the Premier League and would make for a suitable stop-gap until Clyne returns.
The 18-year-old seems the most suitable replacement for Clyne, having impressed greatly against Bayern Munich in pre-season. Despite his youthful age, Alexander-Arnold didn’t look at all phased against veteran Franck Ribery, battling well in the tackles and showing pace and energy to bomb down the flank.
Making his Premier League bow against Old Trafford last season will have put Alexander-Arnold in good stead for a starting place against Watford, with the youngster unnerved by the occasion – no wonder Klopp trusts him.
Unlike Clyne, he’s got the quality in the final third that his teammate has been widely criticised for lacking. Last season for the Under-23s he showed he can contribute via assists and goals, notching two great strikes against Chelsea and Everton.
He does still have aspects of his game that need work, but a promising pre-season campaign could see Klopp put his faith in the 18-year-old.
He may have the most experience, having made 50 appearances so far for Liverpool, but it would be hugely surprising to see Klopp go for Flanagan next weekend.
He’s got a mean tackle on him – as evident against Manchester City when he crashed into the back of Raheem Sterling. As a home-grown player, he’ll have his eye on the prize with Clyne out of the picture.
Nonetheless, he’s not got the attacking nous that Alexander-Arnold has, nor the physicality Gomez can bring to the table.
Having struggled at Burnley last season, failing to stake a claim into the first-team on a regular basis, it’s hard to see a future for Flanagan on Merseyside beyond this summer. Given the club are back in the Champions League and have their eye on some silverware, they should be looking for better quality than the Scouser.
That was made pretty clear against Atletico Madrid in the opening forty five when both he and Milner struggled to content with the Spaniards fluid, pacey movement on the flanks.
Unless anything drastically chances, Alexander-Arnold is in prime position to take up the right-back slot while Clyne is on the injury table. Many fans have tipped him to overtake the English international in the near future as Klopp’s go-to man and it’ll be exciting to