Anyone who follows Liverpool FC at all is well aware of the heavy criticism lobbed at right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold for his perceived lack of defensive ability. He’s surely the best attacking RB in football, but many greatly discount his value because he isn’t as strong defensively as he is going forward.
While there’s no doubt that Alexander-Arnold could stand to improve his defending, the criticisms have grown past the point of absurdity, and Trent himself doesn’t think the level of stick he gets is entirely fair.
“I would say there has been a lot of spotlight on it,” Alexander-Arnold said in an ITV interview when asked about the scrutiny around his defending. “I’d say there’s been a massive magnifying glass on that aspect of my game and I would say, for me, obviously for any part of my game there are improvements to be made, and there are decisions I could have made better.”
He is humble enough to know that there are surely areas he could improve, but it’s also clear he feels he doesn’t get a fair shake because his defending is only talked about in a negative context, and people don’t seem to give him credit when he does defend well.
“There are instances where I could have defended a lot better. But, at the same time, there are instances where I have defended really well and that’s the way the game is. I think a lot of people like to shout about the mistakes and the ones I could have done better on, rather than the ones I’ve done well on. That’s just the way it is.”
The English right-back is preparing for England’s World Cup opener against Iran tomorrow, and he also spoke about his international career thus far. He has struggled to make the same impact for the Three Lions that he’s made for the Reds.
While Liverpool have a play style that makes use of their full-backs’ ability to bomb forward into the final third, England utilize a more conservative style that doesn’t exactly play to Trent’s strengths. This has made it hard for Alexander-Arnold to earn much playing time for Gareth Southgate’s side.
“Not the best football I’ve ever played, probably not the worst either,” Alexander-Arnold said when asked how he would sum up his 17 caps for England. “Just somewhere in the middle that is not amazing, but not the worst, really. It could be a lot better.
“But when you think about it, I think it’s been 17 or 18 games now and I think, in the grand scheme of things, that’s half a season if you’re going to put it in that sense. Players have average half of seasons. Hopefully, the second half of the season will be a lot better for me.”
There is a hope that second half will start for Alexander-Arnold tomorrow. While he is not typically Southgate’s first choice at right-back, Manchester City’s Kyle Walker may not be fit to start the match against Iran. This would leave the England boss with a choice between Trent and Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier to kick off the World Cup group stage.