Man of the Match: Trent Steps Up When Needed

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TAA: Liverpool’s Game-Changer

The most widely discussed and opinion splitting English player of his generation, is undoubtedly Trent Alexander Arnold. Those Anfield followers that can look beyond the dogmatic responsibilities of some very ordinary and limited right-backs, are able to appreciate what Liverpool’s fabled number 66 can routinely offer his teammates. From the early days of a promising attacking fullback, rose to the fore a devastating assist king that was moulded and let loose by his German manager, Jürgen Klopp. Eventually, the defensive support system that once enabled the forward-thinking brilliance to bloom, merely aged-out and grew too tired to protect their crossing wingman.

What has evolved since (in the transitional period), is a hybrid endeavour that was designed to salvage a 2022/23 season of disaster and once again unshackle the man that has been promoted (this very campaign) to the role of vice-captain. I, like so many of the adoring fanbase, remain unsure over the long-term suitability of the role and whether its off-ball characteristics harm the team too detrimentally. What unfolded at the Etihad today, however, was most of the key reasons to envisage its methodology long term, as the central piece of our point attaining draw and Man of the Match was undoubtedly the 25-year-old Liverpool goal-getter.

Trent’s Tactical Evolution

Sometimes, the lack of enthusiasm and questionable body language of the 23-cap England international, has riled and worried many supporters this season. There is a clear desire by the player to move away from the defensive line, however, there had to be a desire (from the player himself) to work for the team in both directions. Today saw the experienced academy graduate pitted against perhaps the most electric winger in the Premier League, as Jérémy Doku lined up on the Manchester City left wing, ahead of the £100m substitute, Jack Grealish. To say I was slightly worried what the fleet-footed Belgium international would do (against either Trent or Joël Matip), would be a huge understatement. What must be accepted by onlookers, is that we live in the modern day of protecting skilful and gifted operators, where rules have been engineered to protect such players from hatchet men that once tackled such players into oblivion. Sometimes, defenders will just get beaten by a frightening footballing specimen, one that is designed to do so. The odd moment aside, this Liverpool side (and TAA especially), were able to contain and usher the lightning wide man into areas of their choosing. The desire of today’s Man of the Match was perfect and it was this improved taking of responsibility that I was more impressed with, even more so than the score line equalling goal.

Defensive Duties and Offensive Brilliance

As this Liverpool 2.0 continues along the regeneration pathway, there are clearly still pieces that need to be recruited or massaged into what the evolving system needs. There is a scattering of world-class talents that need that system to be built upon, with the reds hybrid element certainly one of those. As today’s game ebbed and flowed, the constant progressive play and coverage by England’s new midfielder was continually on point. The playmaker possesses an ability to switch play, open passing avenues, and score from distance. Against Pep Guardiola’s 115-time charged Manchester City, the performance of Trent ticked every Pepijn Lijnders box, as the self-proclaimed instigator of this shape.

Looking Ahead: Fulham at Anfield

Game week fourteen will see the visit of Fulham to Anfield, where the same desire must be fulfilled, by the world-class number 66.

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