Trent Alexander-Arnold doesn’t fit in this England team, but why?

Trent Alexander-Arnold is perhaps one of Liverpool’s most important players, in Jurgen Klopp’s system. A genuine world-class full-back at the age of 23 but him and his national team haven’t clicked – yet.

Whether it be the system or his performances the scouser has been a letdown for his country, compared to the extremely standards he’s set on Merseyside.

In a system with wing-backs, which Gareth Southgate has played frequently, he doesn’t seem to be first choice with both Kieran Trippier and Reece James ahead in the pecking order.

At Liverpool, he plays in a back four. However in when repping the Three Lions shirt he isn’t trusted in that either. Manchester City’s Kyle Walker is more competent defensively and also decent going forwards, he’s ahead of Trent for Southgate.

So should Alexander-Arnold actually be starting for England… probably not. It’s a bold claim since many would have him as one of the best full-backs in the world but his style of play and defensively frailties are too untrustworthy to have, Southgate seems to think.

At Liverpool he is given free rein up and down the right hand-side, and creates the majority of their width. Mainly because of Mohammed Salah’s tendency to drift inside.

Behind him is Virgil Van Dijk, perhaps the world’s best defender, and other top centre-back such as Joel Matip or Ibrahima Konate. The overarching theme there is pace, all their defenders are quick – something England don’t have.

Image
Trent with Liverpool full-back partner, Andy Robertson – https://twitter.com/iF2is/status/1334935106176299008/photo/2

When Trent makes a defensive mistake, such as being caught too high up the pitch, Van Dijk or whoever it may be is there to recover, more often than not. Liverpool also tend to hold a high-line, so attackers are more likely to be caught offside.

If in a back four, Southgate chooses John Stones and Harry Maguire. Both great defenders in their own right, but none are of the level that Van Dijk has performed at. The English pair are great at reading the game, but none are really that quick and therefore it makes it difficult to cover for such an attacking full-back like Trent.

This reason is why Walker gets the nod. He’s more steady defensively, faster and still very good on the ball – you have to be whilst playing at Manchester City.

So why not in as a wing-back in a three you may ask?

There isn’t as much defensive responsibility and progressing forwards more (what Trent is better at) is required. Well, Reece James is the reason. The Chelsea youngester plays that system week-in, week-out and for the Champions of Europe. He is simply a better wing-back than Alexander-Arnold, mainly because it’s what he plays at club level.

Talent wise, he’s undoubtedly one of greatest players this nation has seen in generations so hopefully he finds his place.

It may be in the future that, under another English manager, Trent finds his spot but as for now and under Southgate he’s a victim of a system.

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