Trenty’s Plenty: The numbers behind Alexander-Arnold’s upward curve

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There is something about a homemade player succeeding, especially at the top level.

Liverpool have had their fair share of local boys through at Anfield over the last 30 years, such as Robbie Fowler, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard.

One thing is to force yourself into the first team, but something completely different is to do so and leave no doubt that you belong there for more than just your childhood zip code.

Since his debut in 2016, Trent Alexander-Arnold has established himself in a Liverpool team that has enjoyed as much success as anyone else in the last three decades.

It has not all been common, however, and as recently as a year ago he was the subject of fiercely broader debate as to whether he deserved a place in the English squad at all.

Although it was not his first team debut, it was an unlikely start against Manchester United at Old Trafford in January 2017 that was the right start to his journey. The slender teenager did relatively well in the 1-1 position under the circumstances.

It was just a taste, but the following season he forced himself past the reliable Nathaniel Clyne to become the Reds’ first-choice right-back.

Clyne had many admirers at Anfield, but Jurgen Klopp wanted more of his full-backs and he knew Alexander-Arnold’s malleable talent and potential was worth continuing.

He has since emerged as one of the finest right-backs of his generation, which is something of an achievement as he played in midfield at the youth level, only being moved to his current position to find an easier way into the first team.

Alexander-Arnold started a Champions League final at the age of 19 before lifting Europe’s biggest prize a year later and winning the Premier League a year after that.

His corner kick to Divock Origi in the 4-0 win over Barcelona in the Champions League and his goals against Chelsea and Leicester City in the Liverpool march towards the title the following year showed that he was far from also one of Europe’s undoubtedly best teams. .

At age 21, the Merseyside maestro had a medal that would make most retired players jealous.

His ability to be a prominent part of Liverpool’s attack under Klopp from right back has mostly been undisputed, with his delivery from set pieces and in open play often compared to the educated English captain David Beckham.

However, it was Alexander-Arnold’s international career, or lack thereof, that started the debate about his true level.

England are injured with a solid selection of right-backs, with Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker often preferred by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate, and Reece James and Tariq Lamptey threatening to become further future competition.

Although the 23-year-old is not always the most resolute of defenders, he sometimes feels as if his mistakes are being considered more closely given how strong Liverpool’s defense was between 2018 and 2020, especially after the arrival of Alisson and Virgil van Dijk.

The Reds conceded 38 goals into the league in 2017-18, followed by just 22 in 2018-19. They locked 33 in the season after, though it should be noted that 12 of them came after they had won the league and appeared to be in cruise control.

They were back at 42 admitted to the league last season and their form had fallen off a cliff when Alexander-Arnold’s performances were in the spotlight.

However, it was no ordinary campaign for Liverpool, who actually topped the league at Christmas only for injuries to the center-backs to catch up with them.

Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip had all been out of the game for the rest of the season, which meant midfield duo Fabinho and Jordan Henderson had to fill. This, of course, was not only a step down for the defense, but also weakened the midfield significantly.

Temporary solutions were sought, but the results did not reverse until Klopp gave up his usual tactics and resorted to putting two very inexperienced but large figures back in Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams.

The spillover effect for Alexander-Arnold as well as the rest of the team was that the normally well-oiled unit was thrown completely off course. The full-backs could not enjoy their usual freedom because the stand-in center-backs either needed more support or sat so deep that it would have ruined the form to play as high as normal.

Liverpool were able to make it into the top four at the end of the season, but Alexander-Arnold’s output had been affected.

In 2018-19 in all tournaments, he recorded 15 assists and created 70 chances in 40 matches, before the following year he got the same number of assists and created 109 chances in 49 matches.

But in 2020-21, Alexander-Arnold managed just nine assists and 96 created chances in 45 games.

Was this just a drop as a result of the rest of the team going through a difficult patch, or a sign that his previous numbers were simply too high to sustain?

Alexander-Arnold has shown so far this season that it was actually just a blip as he has thrived again on a more stable Reds team that has already achieved 15 assists in all tournaments in just 26 games, as well as creating 71 chances and 15 store. chances (whereby a teammate is expected to score), only four of the amount he created throughout last season.

He leads the Premier League for assists (10), while also creating the second most chances (58) after Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes (64) after playing two games fewer, and he has also played the most successful long balls of any outfielder. (128).

Will he ever work just as well for England? He has more than enough talent to do that, but given his best performances at club level, he involves being creative from the depths and roaming into midfield, which is not exactly possible in Southgate’s compact 3-4-3 set-up with two holding midfielders, it seems. too unlikely now.

As a normal boy from Liverpool, whose dreams have come true, it seems unlikely that Alexander-Arnold will look any further than achieving more success for his boys club.

With the Reds still in four tournaments this season and a Champions League Round of 16 final with Inter on the horizon, Kop will only worry about seeing even more world-class performances come from the man they cheerfully remind us all is the Scouser in their team.

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