This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
England will face Montenegro and Kosovo in their next two Euro 2020 qualifiers as they attempt to secure qualification for next year’s tournament. Whilst Trent Alexander-Arnold may be standing out offensively, Kieran Trippier is the best option for Gareth Southgate at right-back.
Last Thursday, Southgate announced his Three Lions squad for the all-important upcoming fixtures. For the slot on the right side of the defence, Alexander-Arnold and Trippier have been selected.
The latter left Tottenham to join Atletico Madrid in the summer for £20m and has already started 10 La Liga matches. The former, meanwhile, has been an ever-present in the Premier League for Liverpool. Whilst he may be one of the first names on the team-sheet at Anfield, it is the 29-year-old who should start for the national side.
Going forward, Alexander-Arnold is the more creative force, even if Trippier does not do too badly himself. The 21-year-old has made 3.6 chances per match in the Premier League, providing three assists, whilst he has averaged two per match in the Champions League.
That is compared to the former Burnley man’s 1.4 in La Liga. He does have four per match in Europe, but that is across just two matches, whilst he has two assists in all competitions compared to his rival’s four.
However, in a team that does not create too many chances – they have the 12th most in the league per match with 11.1 – he is the third-best playmaker, with Koke and Santiago Arias – who has played just three matches – creating more.
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Defensively, though, there is a clear winner so far this term.
Los Rojiblancos are arguably the best defensive side on the continent. In La Liga no team has conceded less than the eight goals they have in their first 13 matches. In the Champions League, too, they are solid, having shipped just four goals, with just as many teams having conceded less.
England have impressed going forward – only Belgium and Russia have scored more in Euro 2020 qualifying – but defensively there have been issues. They conceded three against Kosovo despite being 5-1 up at half-time, whilst they also lost 2-1 against the Czech Republic. They have kept just three clean sheets in a relatively easy group, and this comes after they were beaten 3-1 by the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League semi-final.
With 2.4 tackles per match compared to Alexander-Arnold’s 1.3 per game, Trippier will contribute more defensively, which is exactly what England need right now. For the future, the £72m-valued Liverpool star – as per Transfermarkt – will need to improve on his game going forewards if he wants to prove himself indispensable to Southgate.