After being rested (and seeing England colleague Joe Gomez shine) against Newcastle, the young Scouse right back has discussed Liverpool’s final run-in — and what he hopes to get out of the trip to Spain and beyond.
To go out [to Spain] and win, to be honest [is our mindset]. We have got the lead to protect and that comes with some game management for us. We know we can’t be silly over there and get drawn into the way they want to play the game. But at the same time, we go over there wanting to win and wanting to make sure we get through to the final. Being 2-0 up is a good lead for us and we are happy with it, but it’s a dangerous one and we can’t let complacency slip in. It’s about going over there and wanting to win the game, score goals, put the game to bed, hopefully, early on. But we know it’s going to be difficult and it’s easier said than done, but that’s the aim for us.
Should the Reds progress tomorrow, they will have played in every match in all three cup competitions — no small feat — while hopefully remaining competitive in the league until the final day.
Liverpool are not the first team to be chasing the Quadruple, but they are the club who have been “alive” in their chase the latest in the season. According to the BBC, the Reds are only the latest in the Quadruple attempts as the 120th club to have entered in all four top tier competitions (since the Quadruple became achievable in 1960). The table of attempts is brilliant reading for Jürgen Klopp’s side.
Given the importance of every game, then, it’s key that players are as fresh as possible. As such, it was brilliant to see Alexander-Arnold successfully rested for the win against Newcastle. Asked about the rest, the Scouser was complimentary about the fitness of the squad as a whole, as all have competed at the very top level for quite some run of games:
Since the turn of the year it’s been like this, it’s been relentless [with] a game every three or four days. It just goes to show the quality we’ve got as a team, as a squad to be able to make changes that in other seasons we haven’t been able to make and we see a strain towards the end of the season. If I’m talking on behalf of all the lads, we feel as fit as ever, we feel fresh, we feel good going into every game. Being able to make those rotations obviously helps recover the legs and it also gives other lads minutes to go out there and perform as well. You’ve seen we’ve been able to rotate and change who is playing, but maintain that consistency of results.
Of course, the relentlessness of the campaign emphasizes the pressure the squad are under. So how do they cope with it?
To be honest, I feel like we thrive off it. I’ve said it before, I feel this is always the best time in the season for us lads. Every game is a final, [we’re] pushing on all three fronts now. These are the exciting games, you want to be playing in these, you want everything on the line and you want every game to feel like you have to win it. I feel the lads feel the same way. It’s exciting, the buzz you get from scoring a goal in the game and you know it’s vitally important. The goal on Saturday, Naby’s goal, there was a feeling of, ‘This is a big goal’, it’s difficult to go there and score – same with Hendo’s cross-shot against Villarreal, those kind of goals. They give you a different feeling of, ‘This is big, this is massive.’ Then the feeling after the game as well, knowing that the three points or the win is big for you, these are the best times that we’re going to have as a team. I think when you are pushing on all three fronts now going into the last month of the season, it’s an exciting time for us all.
The mood in the camp seems quite good then — and has only improved with the news of Klopp’s new contract, though they did not have anything special planned when they found out.
We were all at home, to be fair. It wasn’t like a big celebration, ‘Oh, the gaffer’s staying for another two years, let’s all have a party.’ It was somewhere in between. I feel it’s hard for news to really sink in when games are so thick and fast. I think there will come a point when we’re able to settle down and say, ‘That was good news for us, something we wanted to hear.’ But I think even the manager wouldn’t have wanted it to distract us or take our focus away from the games. As a set of lads, we’re very focused on what we need to do. The manager hasn’t spoken about it, no-one has really mentioned it, it’s business as usual. But in the back of our minds, it is another two years and hopefully we’ll be able to make them successful.
Very diplomatic then — only Alexander-Arnold does certainly know what it means for the club’s future:
Hopefully those extra two years are just as successful as the ones we’ve had with him so far. I always feel it’s been an increase in success every season we’ve had. This season is a special one so far going into this final run of fixtures and we can really make it something special for us. It gives us that boost that hopefully we’ve got four more years of these kind of seasons to come.
It’s not just the future though, as Alexander-Arnold is happy to talk about the now. When LFC.com asked if he would change what he’d said previously about Liverpool needing to win “a trophy a season” the right back was diplomatic, but optimistic:
I did say one trophy a season minimum and that’s probably in a season that’s probably not really one of our best. But we are in fine form, we’ve played outstanding really all season, we’ve been able to win in all different kind of ways. When we are staring down the barrel of a few trophies, it’s kind of, we win every game here in May now and hopefully we’ve got our hands on a lot more silverware – that’s what we are looking at. Like I said before, these kind of games are exciting for us, this time of the season. If you think back to this time last season when we were struggling, trying to work our way back into the top four and secure Champions League, to be here now – second in the table, a point off City, second leg of the Champions League semis, an FA Cup final – who can complain? This is a very special season for us all and hopefully we’ll be able to see it through. Come the end of May, hopefully we will be in the history books again.
Us too, mate. We hope so, too.