Netizen 24 GBR: Trent Alexander-Arnold deserves a World Cup chance but patience must be shown with Liverpool prodigy

By On May 16, 2018

Trent Alexander-Arnold deserves a World Cup chance but patience must be shown with Liverpool prodigy

Two performances in Liverpool’s run to the forthcoming Champions League final sum up how far Trent Alexander-Arnold has come this season and how far he still has to go.

In the Anfield leg of the quarter final tie against Manchester City, Pep Guardiola not-so-subtly targeted the teenager, hoping that Leroy Sané’s electric technique would prove too much for him. City bombarded Liverpool’s inside-right channel from the first whistle to the last, sure they had located a weak link and confident they would exploit it.

This tactic, however, only inspired the rookie full back to produce a near flawless display â€" the best of his short professional career to date â€" setting the tone from his first tackle. Liverpool’s most impressive team performance of the season to date ended with Alexander-Arnold unanimously named the man of the match.

The most satisfying part of Alexander-Arnold’s display though was that as a somewhat slight, still inexperienced member of Jürgen Klopp’s backline, he was quite clearly Liverpool’s weak link and yet still performed so well.

England 2018 World Cup squad

  • 28 show all

England 2018 World Cup squad

  • 1/28 Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford

    Club: Everton
    Caps: 2

  • 2/28 Jack Butland

    Club: Stoke City
    Caps: 7

  • 3/28 Nick Pope

    Club: Burnley
    Caps: 0

  • 4/28 Defenders: Kyle Walker

    Club: Manchester City
    Caps: 34

  • 5/28 Kieran Trippier

    Club: Tottenham Hotspur
    Caps: 5

  • 6/28 Danny Rose

    Club: Tottenham Hotspur
    Caps: 16

  • 7/28 John Stones

    Club: Manchester City
    Caps: 24

  • 8/28 Ashley Young

    Club: Manchester United
    Caps: 33

  • 9/28 Phil Jones

    Club: Manchester United
    Caps: 24

  • 10/28 Harry Maguire

    Club:Leicester City
    Caps: 4

  • 11/28 Gary Cahill

    Club: Chelsea
    Caps: 58

  • 12/28 Trent Alexander-Arnold

    Club: Liverpool
    Caps: 0

  • 13/28 Midfielders: Eric Dier

    Club: Tottenham Hotspur
    Caps: 25

  • 14/28 Jordan Henderson

    Club: Liverpool
    Caps: 38

  • 15/28 Ruben Loftus-Cheek

    Club: Crystal Palace (on loan from Chelsea)
    Caps: 2

  • 16/28 Dele Alli

    Club: Tottenham Hotspur
    Caps: 23

  • 17/28 Jesse Lingard

    Club: Manchester United
    Caps: 10

  • 18/28 Fabian Delph

    Club: Manchester City
    Caps: 9

  • 19/28 Forwards: Jamie Vardy

    Club: Leicester City
    Caps: 21

  • 20/28 Marcus Rashford

    Club: Manchester United
    Caps: 17

  • 21/28 Raheem Sterling

    Club: Manchester City
    Caps: 37

  • 22/28 Harry Kane

    Club: Tottenham
    Caps: 23

  • 23/28 Danny Welbeck

    Club: Arsenal
    Caps: 37

  • 24/28 Stand-by list: Tom Heaton

    Tom Heaton has already been capped twice by England, making his debut against Australia last year

  • 25/28 James Tarkowski

    Club: Burnley
    Caps: 1

  • 26/28 Lewis Cook

    Club: Bournemouth
    Status: 1

  • 27/28 Jake Livermore

    Club: West Bromwich Albion
    Caps: 7

  • 28/28 Adam Lallana

    Club: Liverpool
    Caps: 34

City’s targeting of him did not work in practice but made perfect sense. A shaky display in defeat at Old Trafford a few weeks earlier had made clear the creases that still need to be ironed out of Alexander-Arnold’s game. Wilfried Zaha had some joy against him at Selhurst Park a few days before the Anfield quarter-final too. In the return at the Etihad, City varied their attacks but still attempted to exploit the youngster's inexperience.

It was no surprise then that, despite how well he played in both last-eight legs, Roma sought to get after Alexander-Arnold once Liverpool reached the last four.

Though Eusebio di Francesco’s side struggled to make any sort of impression at Anfield, they chased the game with gusto in Italy and caught the youngster on an off-night. Roma’s first came after he had failed t o stay with Stephan El Shaarawy on a cross to the far post, their second after he missed an interception. One botched clearance followed by a clear handball should have seen a penalty awarded to the hosts.

Pouring over Alexander-Arnold’s Stadio Olimpico display in this manner is not done in order to damn him â€" indeed, it is to the teenager’s credit that he has typically followed up each below-par performance with an excellent one, reminding us all of his immense potential and demonstrating a maturity well beyond his years. The off-nights are not solely his fault, either. Klopp has not always granted Alexander-Arnold the protection he needs, in fear of sacrificing some of his side’s attacking threat.

The one thing the Liverpool manager has always shown with his prodigy, though, is patience. From the moment it became clear that Nathaniel Clyne would play little to no part in Liverpool’s campaign, Klopp has stood by his two young stand-ins at right back †" Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez â€" rotating them when he sees fit, chastising them from the touchline when they drop too deep, reaffirming his faith in them when the inevitable errors come.

In Alexander-Arnold’s case, that patience has helped him win a spot in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad. If Kyle Walker continues to be used as a right-sided centre-half, the uncapped 19-year-old will compete with Kieran Trippier for the right back berth and may well win that battle. A place in the starting line-up against Tunisia on 18 June would be well-deserved.

Yet England's recent tournament history has several examples of players being moved around the pitch or bombed out altogether on the back of single unfortunate mistakes or slightly disappointing performances. Individual 90-minute displays at World Cups and European Championships are dissected and scrutinised more than those at almost every stage of any other competition.

If Southgate decides to star t Alexander-Arnold, he must give him the best chance to succeed. That means accepting the attendant risk, shouldering the responsibility at times when his inexperience shows and â€" like Klopp â€" showing patience.

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  • More about:
  • World Cup 2018
  • England football
  • Liverpool FC
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold
  • Gareth Southgate
  • Jurgen Klopp
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