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Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold finds himself at the centre of Jurgen Klopp’s plans

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s rise to prominence at Liverpool has seen him gravitate to the centre of Jurgen Klopp’s long-term thinking, writes Martyn Cooke.

Martyn Cooke



Photo: Getty Images

Liverpool are truly a multi-national football club. The Reds are owned by Americans, have a German manager and have a first team squad that is made up of players from 14 countries across four continents.

However, whilst the likes of Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Roberto Firmino (Brazil) and Virgil Van Dijk (Holland) have been the focus of most of the headlines so far this season, it is a young Liverpudlian who has quietly emerged as one of the most promising players at the club.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is the perfect example of a ‘local boy come good’.

The 19-year-old grew up in West Derby, just minutes away from Liverpool’s training complex at Melwood where as a child he would attempt to catch a glimpse of first-team players by looking through a hole in the wall, and he distinctly remembers the open-top bus parade that passed by his house after the club won the Champions League in 2005.

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp (L) hugs Liverpool’s English midfielder Trent Alexander-Arnold at the final whistle of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 24, 2018. (OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

The full-back has experienced a dramatic rise to prominence in the last eighteen months. Just two years ago he was little more than a talented youngster in Liverpool’s academy, a player with potential but no guarantee of breaking into the first team, but now he has cemented a spot at the centre of Jurgen Klopp’s plans.

The 19-year-old has been a regular feature at right-back this season where, in the absence of the injured Nathaniel Clyne, he has shared the role with fellow youngster Joe Gomez.

However, in recent weeks Alexander Arnold has made the position his own and he has started all five of Liverpool’s fixtures across all competitions as he continues to improve, develop and impress.

He has made a total of 32 appearances since making his debut last season against Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup, 20 of which have come during this campaign.

The full-back has certainly not been a bit-part player and Klopp’s faith in the youngster has been demonstrated by his consistent inclusion in the club’s Champions League run, including the five-goal victory against Porto in the first knock-out round.

Indeed, it was in the Champions League that he scored the first of his three career goals with a spectacular free-kick against Hoffenheim.

Alexander-Arnold’s strength lies in his dynamic play. The full-back possesses the pace, endurance and technical ability to continuously make forward runs into the opposition half to create an overload on the right side of the pitch. His sheer energy, enthusiasm and raw speed make him a difficult player to restrict or combat.

Liverpool’s Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mane (R) celebrates with Liverpool’s English midfielder Trent Alexander-Arnold (C) after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Liverpool at Turf Moor in Burnley, north-west England on January 1, 2018. (OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Of course, the 19-year-old’s game is far from perfect. There are still question marks over his defensive ability and decision making in the final third, but there is little doubt that time is on his side and he is improving with every game that he plays. His performances have certainly been impressive in recent week.

Such has been his dramatic rise to prominence, Alexander-Arnold is now being cited as having an outside chance of being involved with the senior England national team ahead of the World Cup in the summer.

He has represented his country at every age group from under-16’s to under-23’s and Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has claimed that the youngster ‘is going to be an England fullback’.

The World Cup might come too soon for the 19-year-old, but there is little doubt that Alexander-Arnold has the quality, potential and time to become the first-choice right back for both club and country in the future.

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.


Three Liverpool men who need to capitalise on rotation



Photo: Getty Images.

With the Champions League semi-finals occupying all of Liverpool‘s mind and attention, it has represented a fresh chance for some players on the fringes of the squad.

For three men in particular, the next few seemingly meaningless Premier League fixtures could represent a chance to rescue their Anfield careers.

Danny Ings

The ex-Burnley striker had rotten luck in picking up a serious knee injury in training days after Jurgen Klopp’s appointment and has only just started his first two Premier League games under the German coach up against Everton and West Brom.

His poachers’ finish at The Hawthorns was an emotional moment for the striker and whilst it seems inevitable that his future lies on loan next season at least, good form from the Englishmen could see him make a case to be a back-up option in 2018/19.

With Dominic Solanke not pulling up trees when given the chance earlier on in the campaign, Danny Ings may feel that there is a place up for grabs.

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Ragnar Klavan

The Estonian central defender was never signed as a long-term solution at the back and whilst usually reliable, he has let the team down at times.

The arrival of Virgil Van Dijk has pushed him further down the pecking order and it still looks likely that another defender may arrive in the summer to join the Dutchman in favour of Dejan Lovren or Joel Matip.

Klavan has seen the latter half of this season disrupted by injury but by leading the way in an inexperienced backline in the upcoming league fixtures could be pivotal to defining his Anfield future.

Alberto Moreno

The Spaniard has always been a controversial figure on Merseyside, but at the start of this season he appeared to be on the right track and became a regular in Jurgen Klopp’s selections.

An injury picked up in the Champions League forced him onto the sidelines and led to the emergence of Andrew Robertson, who rapidly became a fan favourite and one of the first names on the team-sheet.

The left-back had shown his defensive improvements earlier on in the season and will need to maintain that if he is to convince Klopp that he is worth keeping around for 2018/19.

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Statistics show Jordan Henderson’s display against Roma was his best for Liverpool



Photo: Getty Images.

In the build-up to the Champions League semi-final, there was one joke which was repeatedly told, “imagine the sight of Jordan Henderson lifting the Champions League trophy”. On Tuesday night, the Liverpool captain showed just why it’s a distinct possibility.

The midfielder completely dominated the experienced Italian trio of Daniele De Rossi, Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan, teaming up perfectly with James Milner and Georgino Wijnaldum, who replaced the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, to put their stomp on the game and dictate the tempo.

Sitting deep and playing balls over the top, Henderson showed what he can do as a playmaker with his impressive range of passing on show once again, completing as many passes in the final third as Sadio Mane.

Of his 54 passes, only 16 were backwards, compared to 22 forwards, and Henderson was consistently looking to move the ball forward and find a breakthrough against Roma’s high defensive line.

(Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Defensively, Henderson was even more impressive. No player completed more ball recoveries than Henderson’s 12, so much so that the next best tally on his team was seven, almost half of what the captain contributed.

The location of his recoveries too showed his influence, playing in the holding midfield role and breaking up play before looking to rapidly start counter-attacks.

Restricting himself to an entirely central role, Henderson got the better of the likes of De Rossi and Strootman and put them on edge right from the off, causing them to be sloppy in possession and panic, which only got worse as the goals started flowing for the Reds.

In addition, he was successful in more tackles than any other Liverpool player as he made the midfield his own in arguably the highest profile fixture he has ever played in.

Many have questioned the credentials of the former Sunderland man, who is also in contention for the England captaincy, but performances like on Tuesday should soon convince any doubters that he is a key piece of Jurgen Klopp’s puzzle. Post-match, a number of fans and pundits aired their praise for his display.

The tie may only be at half-time but Jordan Henderson must show such leadership on the field of play again in Rome after his team lost their focus in the closing stages of their first leg clash.

Leading by example is pivotal to Henderson’s style and displays like his performance on Tuesday night at Anfield go a long way to justifying his role as captain of Liverpool.

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury setback provides Liverpool with a selection headache



Photo: Getty Images.

Liverpool enjoyed the latest chapters in their storybook of historic European nights at Anfield on Tuesday evening by seeing off AS Roma in a 5-2 first leg victory in their Champions League semi-final, but it wasn’t all positive, particularly for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

One of the few low points came mid-way through the first half as the England international went down in pain after challenging former Manchester City man Aleksander Kolarov.

Speaking after the game, boss Jurgen Klopp is quoted by the club website as telling BT Sport, “it’s probably a really bad injury. If we can say that already before the scan, that’s never good news so that means for us it’s a massive blow, of course.”

“We have still a few very important games to go and the squad doesn’t get bigger in the moment, so we obviously need to be creative in the next few games.”

(Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)The Liverpool Echo reveal that Klopp went into more detail, saying, “It looks like this [his season is over], unfortunately. We don’t know exactly but all the medical department are quite concerned, and that’s without a scan.

“There’s not long left in the season any more. I’m a very positive person and I hope it’s not only a few weeks and it’s not that bad. But it doesn’t look good.”

Now his absence not only poses a hammer blow to morale in the dressing room, despite a fantastic result in the biggest game of the season, but also a major selection headache for Jurgen Klopp.

His options in midfield have been reduced to none, with Emre Can out with a back injury, possibly for the rest of the season, Adam Lallana unlikely to return this campaign after a hamstring issue and even defender Joel Matip, who has filled in as a holding midfielder on occasion, out of action. All that after Philippe Coutinho was sold in January.

It leaves the German with only three fit midfielders in Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Georgino Wijnaldum, which may not be a problem for the semi-final second leg next week but does cause problems when Klopp will undoubtedly look to rotate against Stoke in Premier League action.

With fringe options like Marko Grujic, Ojie Evaria, Pedro Chirivella and Allan all out on loan, Klopp really is down to the bare bones.

A change of shape against the Potters looks inevitable to see the Reds line up with only two central midfielders, giving a much needed break to either Henderson or Milner, whilst there may be a chance for the likes of Jordan Williams or Paulo Alves who are yet to make their first team debuts.

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