Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea: Reds player ratings
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Trent Alexander-Arnold started in midfield for England during their comfortable 4-0 win against Andorra on Sunday, and Gary Lineker has been full of praise about the Liverpool star’s versatility.
Gary Lineker has heaped the praise on Liverpool sensation Trent Alexander-Arnold, after the full-back was started in midfield by England boss Gareth Southgate on Sunday.
The 22-year-old started alongside Jordan Henderson and Jude Bellingham in midfield against Andorra, and England went on to win 4-0 in their World Cup qualifier, with Alexander-Arnold impressing before switching back to his usual position for the second half.
The defender has become known for his range of passing ability, and boasts an exceptional assist record for Liverpool in the Premier League despite not operating further up the field.
The England international has been encouraged to operate a midfield role for some time, and Lineker has made a ‘staggering’ claim about Alexander-Arnold and his versatility.
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Following the final whistle on Sunday, Lineker took to twitter to express his feelings about Alexander-Arnold, and wrote: “He could play anywhere. The staggering thing would be if he doesn’t play anywhere.”
This is the first time that Alexander-Arnold has officially occupied this role to start a game, but Southgate revealed that this has been in his plans for some time, as he told ITV: “Well we know he is an outstanding footballer and we’ve wanted to look at him in midfield for a little while, we feel today is a good opportunity.
“He is fabulous with the ball, in particular at club level, he’s been interchanging with Harvey Elliott appearing inside the pitch, so we’ll be hoping maybe he’s a little bit more comfortable in those areas than he maybe was last year.
“But he’s got to play the role his own way we’re quite happy for him to go wide and deliver those killer passes.”
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The confidence and faith shown by Southgate is testament to Alexander-Arnold’s ability, as the 22-year-old is integral to Jurgen Klopp’s side and is one of Liverpool’s most creative players, even though he mainly operates up and down the right channel.
The 22-year-old is now entering his fifth season as a first-team regular and so far in the Premier League, Alexander-Arnold has been directly involved in 43 goals since the 2017/18 season, sharing Liverpool’s right side with Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool lost a midfielder this summer as Georginio Wijnaldum left the club following the expiry of his contract, and there was unsettlement amongst the fans as a replacement wasn’t brought in by Klopp.
However, there is potential that Alexander-Arnold could move into this role in the future, and the England international signed a new long-term deal with the club this summer, pledging his allegiances to Liverpool until at least 2025.
It’s unlikely that Klopp will look to change his system anytime soon with his side performing so well, but Southgate has an abundance of right-backs within his set-up, and Alexander-Arnold could be tested in midfield more frequently in the build-up to the World Cup in 2022.
Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker are all regulars in England’s squad along with Alexander-Arnold, but the Liverpool man has the ability and versatility to play elsewhere, so could be a valuable asset for Southgate moving forward.
One of the only negatives from England’s Euro 2020 heartbreak was their failure to exploit set pieces as prolifically as they’ve been used to in recent times, and Alexander-Arnold is a specialist from dead ball situations.
It is likely we will see Alexander-Arnold in a variety of midfield roles for England over the next 14 months, which will only accelerate the development of the 22-year-old as the complete player.
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