Jurgen Klopp was surprised at questions asked over Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defending, insisting he would not play if he did not have qualities at the back.
Trent Alexander-Arnold notched up his 17th assist of the season when Sadio Mane converted his precise cross on Saturday against West Ham United. The goal proved enough for Liverpool to beat the Hammers in a crunch Premier League fixture that kept the Reds in the hunt for the title.
Jurgen Klopp revelled in their narrow win over the Hammers, and while the team is showing solid form to win even difficult games, there have been individuals in top form in that side. One of them is Alexander-Arnold, who continues to play an influential role in this Reds setup.
The right-back proved his attacking qualities once more, but there are lingering questions about his defensive abilities. Those doubts do not stem from the West Ham game in particular but from the past, as he has cost his side points due to some poor work at the back.
Alexander-Arnold did make a goal-line clearance against the Hammers, with the ball heading towards the back of the net. Yet, after the game, the questions kept coming regarding his defensive contributions, which somewhat baffled Klopp.
As quoted by Liverpool Echo, Klopp said, “Does it surprise me? Yes. Absolutely. But I don’t think that will change with whatever I say tonight. If he couldn’t defend, he couldn’t play. At least not in this position. He has improved in all departments and of course in defending as well, but he is young, so he can still improve, and he has to improve. But yes, his defending is not a problem that we have.”
“So when you see him playing, we have helped him a little bit with positioning and stuff like this, and we have tried to bring him into positions formation-wise to where he can be influential. But of course, it is all about him, his skill set, his quality and his right foot. That is it, and he is really keeping this situation in focus to set up goals.”
“He knows where the dangerous situations are in the opposition box and around that, and he really tries to put the ball there. That is very helpful, and we have worked together for a long time because the strikers obviously expect that as well.”
Alexander-Arnold is enjoying a fine campaign, having racked up two goals and 17 assists from 32 matches in all competitions, firmly establishing himself as one of the best right-backs in the game currently.