KEOWN TALKS TACTICS: Alexander-Arnold is Klopp's midfield mastermind

KEOWN TALKS TACTICS: Trent Alexander-Arnold is Jurgen Klopp’s midfield mastermind, his hybrid role has made him a formidable opponent… just as I predicted!

  • Trent Alexander-Arnold has been playing in a new hybrid role in recent weeks
  • The right-back had been enduring the most difficult season of his career to date
  • Liverpool career has been reinvigorated by the new role under Jurgen Klopp 

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s new inverted full back/midfield role makes him a formidable game controller. It may be one small step into midfield for Alexander-Arnold but it is a giant leap for Liverpool’s creativity and it is boosting their outside chance of finishing in the top four.

Jurgen Klopp hailed Alexander-Arnold as ‘absolutely insane’ after Wednesday’s 2-1 win over West Ham. And he’s right. Of all the Premier League’s players, he’s had the third-most touches of the ball and is second for passes in the opposition half.

Narrow it down to defenders and he is first for crossing and creating chances from open play. Klopp’s philosophy has always been to counter-press — to win the ball back high up the pitch from his opponents. This season, much to Klopp’s disappointment, he hasn’t been able to make that work, so he has changed his system to totally dominate possession.

Five years ago, I suggested Alexander-Arnold should be morphed into a midfielder. We’re now seeing a version of that, with Alexander-Arnold’s short walk into central midfield giving Liverpool control of the ball.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has thrived in his new hybrid role for Liverpool – tucking into midfield

The right-back was enduring a difficult season but has been reinvigorated by the move

It creates two pivots deep in midfield and allows Jordan Henderson and Curtis Jones, who play in front of Fabinho, to drop deep to help build attacks or get forward to support the front three.

Mystic Martin: What our man said about Alexander-Arnold in 2018 

‘I think we should find another position for him. I think he could play in a central midfield role for England. He’s in the Liverpool team as a right back but there is more to the player. I think we will see him play more advanced, maybe in a midfield role as time goes on. The pace he has, the vision for passes, he could be moulded into the position.’

Joel Matip moves wide to cover the hole left by Alexander-Arnold at the back and form a back three with Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson.

When on the ball in the midfield, Alexander-Arnold invariably plays the right pass. His presence gives Liverpool so many more attacking options. 

He has an outstanding technique and a thirst to demonstrate his huge passing range by playing long diagonal balls out to the left for the raiding Robertson or punching central passes into the front players. 

He is offering so many contributions for Liverpool, as he did for Cody Gakpo’s goal against West Ham, Roberto Firmino’s equaliser against Arsenal and his assist for Gakpo’s opener against Leeds. His set-piece delivery is stunning, too, with five Premier League assists in April alone.

Alexander-Arnold is a lethal commodity and Klopp deserves great credit for exploiting his array of qualities. This is a position made in heaven for him and it may be something that England manager Gareth Southgate looks at using.

For now, starting at right back with time and space, the game in front of him and moving into midfield looks better for Alexander-Arnold, who is helping Liverpool get back to their best. Four of their last six Premier League games are at Anfield and beating Tottenham at home tomorrow is a must if they are to keep alive their ambition of a top-four finish to end the season on a high.

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