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Opinion

Trent Alexander-Arnold v Kieran Trippier – You can see why it is such a no-brainer

1 year ago
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Trent Alexander-Arnold has been making headlines.

However, rather than the usual what he does for Liverpool, these headlines are about what he doesn’t do for England, or maybe more correctly put for many people, what he isn’t allowed to get the chance to do for his national side.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has only ever had 14 starts in his career for England and considering he turns 24 in nine days time, it is beyond belief for many, considering his achievements for Liverpool.

When you compare only six England starts (not including friendlies / Nations League) to already 47 starting eleven places in Champions League games for Liverpool, the contrast becomes even more stark.

Now, not only is Trent Alexander-Arnold not getting a game for England but Gareth Southgate has made it crystal clear that the Liverpool player is fourth choice (at best) for the right-back spot.

Kyle Walker, Reece James and Kieran Trippier all definitely ahead of Trent Alexander-Arnold, at least in Southgate’s thinking.

The Liverpool and Newcastle defenders both remained on the bench for these two England games against Italy and Germany, Gareth Southgate explaining his decision making when it came to team selection:

“Firstly, I didn’t want any player to sit in the stand for two matches so I think the way we manage a group of people has been a big strength for us in the tournaments and we need to do that.

“The other night, we didn’t need the left-back cover.

“Against Germany we did because of the way we went with the team so we needed Chilly [Ben Chilwell] on the bench and we had Kieran Trippier who, at the moment, I feel his all-round game is ahead [of Trent Alexander-Arnold].

“I’ve had long conversations with all of them, been very clear with them about where they stand, what they need to improve upon, what they’re doing well so they’re very clear on where they sit.”

You didn’t exactly need Southgate to say out loud his preferences, as Kyle Walker, Reece James and Kieran Trippier have all featured regularly under this England manager, unlike Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Indeed, when it comes to looking back at competitive games from 2018 onwards, Trent Alexander-Arnold has started in five qualifiers for World Cups / Euros and only started one game (1-0 defeat to Belgium at 2018 World Cup) for England in any finals.

On the other hand, in the same time period Kieran Trippier has started six qualifiers and nine England games at the World Cup / Euros finals, including of course starting last summer in the team that was beaten by Italy in the Euros final (Trippier getting an assist for the goal that gave England an early lead in that game).

I am not Gareth Southgate’s biggest fan BUT I do think he is absolutely right on this one.

I think Trent Alexander-Arnold is a great footballer…however, I believe he is a pretty poor defender. This (in my opinion) is covered up a lot at club level by two things, Liverpool tend to be doing most of the attacking in matches and so that is what Trent Alexander-Arnold is doing most of the time. Also, his defensive shortcomings are massively hidden due to the fact he has such excellent central defenders covering him at Liverpool, especially Van Dijk.

With England…fair to say that there aren’t any great central defenders to cover for him AND under Gareth Southgate, all out attack isn’t exactly top of the agenda, meaning defenders have to…defend.

To be honest, I don’t think Trent Alexander-Arnold is alone, as Kyle Walker is a pretty rubbish defender as well, but like the Liverpool defender has a great club side that attack the vast majority of matches and who cover for his defensive deficiencies.

For my money, Kieran Trippier is a far better defender than both of these, as well as the attacking parts of his game.

I would also put him ahead of Reece James on the defensive side of things, at club level the Chelsea player also has the benefit of having always played for a team who tend to attack most of the game. I think he is decent in defence and I think it should be between him and Trippier when it comes to who starts in Qatar. One thing for sure though, it won’t be Trent Alexander-Arnold. Unless of course Gareth Southgate radically changed his tactics / formation and / or played him somewhere further up the pitch and that isn’t going to happen.

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