The Premier League season is long, but the action comes at such a fast pace that someone can’t be faulted for looking up at the calendar and being surprised that it’s already time for the International Break. And with the start of cup competitions once club play resumes, it’s only going to get more hectic moving forward.
Which is why this might serve as one of the best opportunities to breathe and reflect on the early returns of a season that, with all of the lead-in and added chaos of outgoings and incomings, has really managed to pack like four seasons worth of drama in a short few weeks. A breath - and maybe a form of relaxation of your choice - is do.
One thing I’ve been choosing to reflect on is that we’re in the midst of witnessing another moment of growth for Trent Alexander-Arnold. The young defender and Liverpool’s foremost creator isn’t just satisfied with being the first name that comes to mind when defining a modern fullback: he’s now firmly planted among the veterans in the squad and has finally ascended into the leadership role we’d all imagined he’d be holding.
The new Vice Captain has had a big two weeks in particular as he’s had to wear the armband in an official capacity due to Virgil Van Dijk’s red card in the Newcastle match and the subsequent ban stemming from it.
What we’ve seen over those two weeks has been tremendous as Trent captained 10-man Liverpool into overturning a 1-nil deficit into a 2-1 shock victory at away St. James. He then showed steel, grit, and that fine offensive spark as he drove Liverpool to a romping win at Anfield against an improved Aston Villa side.
A lot of it can go a bit under the radar - Trent seems to hail from the Steven Gerrard school of quiet leadership and seems to be more introspective than outgoing. But what I’ve noticed is a Trent that seems to be truly comfortable and confident in his abilities. Against Villa, Trent displayed his ability to rip a team a part by hitting long diagonals that would take entire defenses out of the equation. And while some were maybe a bit hopeful, I enjoyed that he was looking to take a shot from outside the box as defenders sagged from him.
It feels as though he’s starting to enter another form, one where he will be looked upon - rightly - as the heart and soul of the team. He doesn’t have to hold that mantle now, what with Van Dijk, Alisson Becker, Mohamed Salah, and even his battery mate on the other flank, Andrew Robertson around. But this season of transition has also brought to relief that these guys won’t be here forever.
The Scouser on our team, though, is the youngest of them all and belongs to the City in a way none of them do. So that future feels a lot more immediate, a lot more tangible at the moment. What’s great about the last couple of weeks is that they show the future, in Trent’s hands, looks awfully bright.