Trent Alexander-Arnold’s Return: Swaying Liverpool’s Title Pursuit

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Trent Alexander Arnold’s Return and the Impact on Liverpool’s Season

Whenever this current Liverpool team wins, the euphoria is substantial and the crowd delighted, however, when points are dropped and levels of play are not as expected, the disappointment is very often toxic. Following the recent 2-2 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford, I attempted to deduct emotion away from my initial reaction, thereby looking at the broader picture and true position of Liverpool Football Club.

Over my years following the mighty reds, I have endured teams marshalled by Graham Souness (manager, not player), Roy Hodgson, and Brendan Rodgers, which is something that makes me very familiar with Anfield sides that have underwhelmed to the highest degree. This current group in no way mirrors the eventual dross produced by those managers, as they instead continue their transformation from that which once won everything under Jürgen Klopp.

Photo: IMAGO

What this Liverpool v2.0 is guaranteed to do is excite and at times overachieve, given it is still a group that is getting to know one another and is littered with inexperienced and newer assets. As the dust settles on the weekend’s disheartening result, the fanbase should now look at the incoming injection of elite level skill and mentality, something that can produce moments of brilliance which will elevate good performances to great. The exact entity that this team requires in this moment is its vice-captain, Trent Alexander Arnold, the homegrown hero who is destined to drive his club to ultimate success.

Trent’s Impact on the Title Race

The thing that has surprised me the most during the recent injury period of the England man, is the dismissive attitude towards what he can offer. Only a few months ago, the 25-year-old was being heralded as one of the Premier League’s best ‘midfield’ players after some tremendous moments in that higher role. The migration into midfield was enabled by the hybrid endeavour, whereas that initiative has been somewhat shelved without the academy graduate’s recent availability.

In the interim, Conor Bradley has emerged as a fantastic young talent who embodies much of what Andy Robertson has always offered from the left-hand side, which is width and overlapping traits. Out of necessity, the balance and control of the Liverpool possession game has been pushed onto the magnificent shoulders of Argentina’s World Cup winner, Alexis Mac Allister, yet the need for more variety and ingenuity is still a much-required part of this season’s success.

Photo: IMAGO

Too often, this team’s patterns of play have been orchestrated by either Trent or Thiago Alcântara, therefore, the elite emergence of the former Brighton player is a blessing that has enabled so much this year. To reintroduce Liverpool’s number 66 into the mix (with just seven Premier League games remaining), could offer the ideal balance and adjusted attacking threat to regain momentum.

In this particular moment, Wataru Endō is offering the shield that was once missing, something which can now fully enable the threat of the incoming vice-captain. One small alteration in the system would also allow Dominik Szoboszlai to roam more centrally, especially when the reds are in control of the ball. A 3-box-three formation would enable much needed variety and flexibility to this side, where a sense of predictability has been allowed to set in once again.

Looking Ahead

In this short period where games are dwindling below the double-digit quota, a refreshed and invigorated team can be pushed back into rhythm by the return of Diogo Jota and Trent Alexander Arnold. As news descends that both these vital components have been joined in team training by Alisson Becker & Stefan Bajčetić, this week, the dynamics in the squad can shift and purpose can therefore be renewed. Though I am a huge fan of Conor Bradley, it was the more senior and illustrious right back which once enabled a plethora of silverware and I believe he can be the man to do so once again.

If this Liverpool side is to win the 2023/24 Premier League title, then TAA will be vital to how such a feat would unfold.

Steven Smith

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