Another great season from the best right back on the planet. It’s incredible that there are those who doubt him and still question his defensive qualities. Trent defends really well. It’s just that he’s out of this world in the attacking side of the game and when you’re that good going forward there’s always a lazy narrative that follows you around.
Every attacking full back gets saddled with it and any defensive mistake is highlighted as evidence that “see, he can’t defend”. Newsflash; full backs who are crap going forward also occasionally make mistakes or will allow crosses to come in too easily. It’s part of being a full back. Sometimes a winger will go past you. Sometimes you won’t block every cross. Occasionally you might not cover around the back post well enough and an opponent will steal in and score. It goes with the job.
Whenever it happens with Trent it’s used to further this idiotic notion that he’s weak defensively. Trent is as good defensively as any right back in the league. And if he isn’t, he’s pretty close. But none of them are even fit to lace his boots when it comes to attacking. Not even Reece James, a world class right back in his own right.
Part of the problem here is that Gareth Southgate doesn't really fancy him. He's been overlooked at various times in favour of James, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker. Still, at least the "Wan Bissaka v Trent" twitter war has long since been consigned to history. The point is though, because Southgate doesn't have him as an automatic selection that has fuelled the narrative that he must be weak defensively, because why else would you not pick someone as lavishly gifted with a football at his feet?
It's bollocks though. Southgate doesn't pick Trent because he isn't a good enough coach to get the best out of him and because his system has different requirements of a player in that position. Reece James is not a better right back than Trent Alexander-Arnold and never will be. He's probably a better fit for a Gareth Southgate coached team though.
That's a distinction that few in the media seem to be able to grasp. You either have them completely at a loss as to why Trent is left out, or you have the lazy bastards peddling the "he's not good enough defensively" angle. It's tiresome and a couple of times this season Jurgen saw his arse when being asked about this perceived defensive weakness.
Trent’s defensive qualities were on show in the Champions League Final when he had the unenviable task of trying to keep Vinicius Jr in check. Overall he did superbly but the Brazilian still popped up with the winning goal when he stole in behind Trent on the back post. I saw a lot of talk that Trent should have done better there and that was my initial thought. Having since watched it back (it was over a week before I could bring myself to do it) I don’t think he can do anymore.
He’s holding the line to play Benzema offside so he can’t drop in deeper to cut out the cross and prevent Vinicius reaching it. Benzema is offside but misses the ball despite making a play at it. If he had made contact with it then the flag goes up and we all say what a great job Trent did holding the line. So yeah, just unlucky there for me.
Trent has had a great season but he hasn’t been at his best in every game. He’s certainly had some below par games but he plays virtually every week for a team who play at an intense level for 90 minutes. It’s not like playing for Man City when you can just take long breathers while your team mates pass the ball around for 15 minutes at a time. There’s no respite playing full back for Klopp.
Even iron man himself Robbo has had games where he’s looked tired too. So yeah, Trent had some games when he wasn’t at his brilliant best, but that isn’t reflected in his numbers. I don’t just mean assists as that’s a completely over-rated stat. Look at all of the other categories related to that though. Expected assists, chances created, all that nerdy stuff that I try to stay away from but can’t because there are so many stat geeks on Twitter and even in the podcast group chat.
Seriously though, I do find those stats fairly interesting, if only to see where our players compare with those at rival clubs. I don’t need stats to tell me that Trent creates loads of chances, but they are useful if you want to know how he compares to Kevin De Bruyne for example. What does that say though? He’s our right back but we’re comparing his creativity with the most creative player in the entire league. Except he isn’t the most creative player in the league because our right back is.
Previous Season Ratings:
2020/21: This season doesn’t count
This Season’s Rating: 9
Incredible numbers from him. 9 out of 10 in every season he’s played. To get a 10 he probably needs to be getting close to double figures in goals, which he can do considering the shooting opportunities he gets.
The filthy outside of the boot pass to send Diaz clean through in the FA Cup Final. If he’d put that away we’d be talking about Trent’s pass in hushed tones for the rest of our days. Not singing God Save the Queen last weekend is up there too.
Seeing Vinicius Jr come in behind him to score the winner in Paris. Not Trent’s fault but it will have been a sickening moment for him.
More 9 out of 10s probably. I’d like to see him improve his free-kicks though, he’s massively over-rated in that department and I never expect him to score.