Trent Alexander-Arnold looks “well off it” in his defending and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp must be feeling concerned, one pundit says.
The right-back has been nothing short of a sensation for the Reds since his emergence from the club’s academy. Not only has he nailed down his starting role, but he has done so while winning everything there is to win.
Alexander-Arnold’s attacking mindset and skillset has proved a major factor in Liverpool’s success under Jurgen Klopp.
However, he continues to face serious questions about his defending. And amid criticism for Liverpool’s back four this term, Alexander-Arnold has faced no shortage of comments against him.
In fact, former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy warned that his “X-factor” – the trait his “rivals don’t possess” – is becoming overlooked because of his defending.
And against Ajax in Tuesday’s 2-1 Champions League win, Alexander-Arnold had a role to play in Mohammed Kudus’ equaliser. Indeed, former goalkeeper Paddy Kenny claimed his error mirrored the one he made against Manchester United in August.
“He’s just walking, he’s stood still,” Kenny told Football Insider when analysing Kudus’ goal at Anfield.
“He’s not even trying to get back. He did the same against Man Utd. If you watch him he’s walking and by the time he realised [Jadon] Sancho has dummied him, he is already gone.
“There have been a few instances where the ball has gone right past him and there has been no reaction whatsoever.
“There is nothing there, for what reason I don’t know. I would be surprised if Klopp hasn’t picked up on it and as a goalkeeper, if you see a defender not pulling his weight then you have no chance.”
Alexander-Arnold warned about Liverpool form
Kenny added that it is a bad sign if Alexander-Arnold has got into his comfort zone because of a lack of competition for his place.
“He is alright going forward, he is always happy doing that. He is well off it when he is defending,” the pundit told Football Insider.
“Has he got into the comfort zone? That’s not a good place to be. You always need competition to keep you on your toes. Maybe that is an issue he has.
“That there is no pressure on him and he is taking his spot for granted.”
Reds star continues to be in spotlight
It seems like there will always be a question over Alexander-Arnold’s defending at Liverpool.
The debate has increased more in recent seasons because of the clear contrast between how he attacks and defends.
His attacking play is second-to-none and will always be invaluable to Klopp and the future Liverpool managers.
But, it is important to switch the focus to his defending and look at how he can improve that side of his game.
If Alexander-Arnold can master his defending, only then can he be known as a true great full-back.
Yes, his attacking play has seen him revolutionise the modern full-back role. But, the complete modern full-back is also a top defender and Alexander-Arnold must work on that part of his game.
On the other flank, Andy Robertson has proved his worth as both a defender and an attacker. In fact, the Scot looks a lot more balanced as a full-back than Alexander-Arnold.
As for the right-back, there is a clear disparity between the two parts of Alexander-Arnold’s game.