The Evolution and Dilemma of Trent Alexander-Arnold at Liverpool
Each of Liverpool’s opening three games have offered as many questions as answers. In the closing ten game run of last year, we saw Trent Alexander Arnold explode into a new hybrid position, as our coaching team searched for a way of being competitive once more. His form and ability to dictate play then saw him thrust in England’s starting midfield, with a huge amount of appreciation stemming from his creative displays. The Three Lion’s international manager, Gareth Southgate, has long held reservations over the 24-year-olds defensive limitations, therefore it was a delight to see our Liverpool born player finally make his mark for his nation. What has perhaps been overlooked since then, is in recruiting the services of both Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, Jürgen Klopp is no longer requiring of an extra playmaker in the middle of the park. After appointing our number 66 as the Reds’ vice-captain, everyone assumed a new dawn of brilliance would befall our talented fullback, as a hybrid footballer who would continue to step into the Liverpool middle ground. What has occurred, is confusion and a lack of control in the red’s backline, as transition is allowing large spaces to form in the rearguard. With leadership must come a sense of what the team requires to succeed, which is why TAA must accept that his side (with new parts now added) must once again operate with a continuing back four. By constantly vacating his right back position (as LFC gain possession of the ball), his team is inadvertently offering up a clear avenue for teams to counter attack. With words (below) showing he can be a mature and effective leader for this team, now must be the moment for him to recognise what is needed on the pitch, more than his own wants and personal desires.
The Tactical Shifts Under Klopp
Up until the disappointment of last season, there was little sense in moving the 20-cap England player out of his usual defensive position. As age and tired legs engulfed Klopp’s middle area, only then did a move to adjust the formation arise, with the hybrid model of play introduced. This dramatic alteration was a product of inconsistency that demanded such a change. The overall failure of the group meant this ongoing summer window was always going to lead to new assets incoming. Now, with better control of the pitch and a solidified 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 system, it would once again allow Trent’s marauding ways appear from his previous wiser position. Instead of looking to create a double six pivot (on the ball), it surely makes more sense to dominate once more from a wider perspective. In this instance, Trent would absolutely be able to dictate moments of play in the knowledge that skilful and physical midfielders are working away inside him.
The Bigger Picture
It was only last week that 200 games were achieved for his boyhood club and the statistics (listed below) of his Anfield tenure make for breathtaking viewing. In a lineup where the attacking specimens of Luis Díaz, Dominik Szoboszlai, Cody Gakpo, and Darwin Núñez, fill the opposition box, it would give our assist hungry provider wondrous targets to cross for once again. The assumed right sided link up between he and Mohamed Salah, could be undertaken with the assurance of a new defensive midfielder and Alexis controlling the middle third. This entire scenario is a tantalizing prospect; therefore, I hope a more effective system is developed in the lead up to the Reds’ next outing against Aston Villa.
More than anything I want our manager to revert to his previous methods and game plan. The rock and roll style of play once brought every major piece of silverware to the feet of Trent Alexander Arnold, which is why I would love to see that system and its improved operators unleashed once more.
In this season where Liverpool should expect to play more than 55 competitive games, there will inevitably be situations that see our vice-captain ushered into a starting midfield position. To imagine the starting eleven of choice is set in stone is impossible, especially given that this squad is prone to injuries. We are all fully aware of the good defensive value in having Joe Gomez as a starting right back, which may be required if certain midfielders fall to those injuries or even a lack of form. The most important aspect of success is the structure and maintaining a solid foundation. goals and attacking strategies will always be the most infectious part of our game, yet the ability to close out our opponents is far more valuable when chasing major silverware.
In remembering the levels that were once common in his game, a mere glance below shows how effective and elite our former academy product can once more be, though essentially from that attacking full back position. The needs of the team must always come first, which means finding a way to become the most ferocious right back in world football once more, as part of the greater Liverpool good.