Trent Alexander-Arnold’s footballing career has felt like a rather easy one. He broke into the Liverpool first-team aged 18 and hasn’t looked back since, becoming a mainstay of Jurgen Klopp’s side in swift fashion.
He has been one of the vital cogs to their success in recent years with the right-back winning a Champions League and Premier League trophy on his way to contributing to a bucket load of goals in the final third.
Indeed, the England international has scored 14 times in the red of Liverpool, while amassing a rather ridiculous haul of 62 assists in 234 outings. Even the most creative of playmakers would be happy with those numbers, let alone a right-back.
Back in the day, it was a full-back’s primary function to be able to defend. Think of the no-nonsense defenders of yesteryear and they’d be completely bemused by Alexander-Arnold’s style of play.
He is very much about the offensive part of the game and up until now, the defensive side to his play hasn’t been a concern. The Reds dominate possession and with that, the £180k-per-week earner has been able to deliver regular assists for his teammates.
The 23-year-old is a creative machine, so much so that he’s been tipped to become a central midfielder in the years to come, even playing in that position for England. How Klopp’s men could do with one of those at the moment given their injury crisis.
However, it was a chastening night for the full-back on Wednesday evening who undoubtedly put in one of his worst performances since breaking through into the first team.
Alexander-Arnold was part of a defence that shipped four times during a 4-1 defeat to Napoli and he was one of the main culprits throughout the defeat.
Indeed, speaking of his performance at full time, journalist Josh Bunting said: “Football is just as much about attitude than it is skill. Trent Alexander-Arnold has shown a horrible attitude to the club that has made him tonight. Shambolic performance the lack of effort. No tracking back, no effort absolutely disgusting from him in my opinion. Disrespectful.”
It was a damning assessment of his performance in the loss and a remarkable moment in the 31st minute showed exactly what Bunting was referring to.
The incident came as Napoli struck home a second goal through former Fulham man, André-Frank Zambo Anguissa. He was able to play a one-two with Piotr Zielinski on the edge of the box before he burst into the area and then fired past Alisson. It was a simple finish but it was made so by the England full-back.
It was incredible to see but at no moment did Alexander-Arnold try to intercept the ball or stop a chance from being fashioned. While Anguissa was playing that exchange of passes with Zielinski, the Liverpool defender stood in the exact same spot and refused to move from his position on the edge of the 18-yard box.
That goal can be seen below; just keep an eye on the number 66 shirt and you’ll be left appalled at the level of defending.
André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, that is superb! 👏
He plays a lovely one-two before cooly slotting the ball past Alisson…
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 7, 2022
It was a shocking lack of effort so early into the game and it was a moment that should scare Klopp given the amount of trust he’s shown in his young academy graduate during his tenure.
Over the course of the game, he never got much better. As per SofaScore, the so-called defender won just two of his five defensive duels, completed only 78% of his passes and lost possession of the ball on 22 occasions.
Of course, that is a regularity for a player who likes to deliver so many crosses but that was useless on a night like the one Klopp’s men came across in Naples.
He completely neglected his defensive duties and the German tactician will now need to iron out where it is going so wrong for the Liverpool-born full-back. He simply has to improve the defensive side of his game to be considered in the elite bracket of defenders. At the moment, the horrific levels of defending are scary.