Trent Alexander-Arnold proves he’s getting back to his best in win over Man Utd

Football’s a fickle old game, and no player will have learned that valuable lesson more in recent months than Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Cast your mind back to the start of this season: the Liverpool youngster was one of the best full-backs in the world and was pivotal to the Reds’ so-called ‘winning machine’.

Such was the quality of the youngster, there was even talk of him moving into midfield given it seemed absolutely absurd that Liverpool and England could waste the talents of one of the best footballers on the planet – alright, that one may be a bit of an exaggeration – by playing him at right-back.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was brilliant at Old Trafford
Trent Alexander-Arnold was brilliant at Old Trafford | Pool/Getty Images

Less than a year on and he’s finished. He can’t defend, he hasn’t got the mind of a defender, he’s a glorified right midfielder and he only looks good because Jurgen Klopp’s system plays to his strengths – quite the fall from grace.

The 22-year-old was the most high profile omission from Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the March internationals earlier this year, leading to speculation his place at Euro 2020 could be in jeopardy.

Having said that, being left out of said squad seemed to have refocused the youngster after a subpar campaign and in the last couple of months he’s produced some solid displays, with his winning goal against Aston Villa at Anfield in April a particular highlight.

However, Alexander-Arnold’s performance in the 4-2 win over Manchester United on Thursday evening was by far his ‘breakthrough moment’ – if you can call it that.

Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates his assist with Roberto Firmino
Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates his assist with Roberto Firmino | Michael Regan/Getty Images

The 22-year-old somehow managed to dominate the game from the right-back position, causing Luke Shaw all sorts of problems as he continued to surge forward and create chances for the Liverpool frontline.

He was instrumental in two of Liverpool’s goals at Old Trafford, picking out Roberto Firmino with a pinpoint free-kick as the visitors edged ahead before stepping onto the front foot and capitalising on United’s sloppy play before Firmino tapped home the rebound from his stinging effort.

Far from the player we’ve seen over the past few months, Alexander-Arnold was absolutely everywhere, even finding himself in the left-wing position at one point.

Perhaps the standout moment of the youngster’s game came as he fired a superb cross-field ball over the top of the Manchester United backline, offering substitute Sadio Mane the opportunity to put the game to bed, though the forward couldn’t quite bring the ball under his spell.

Of course, Alexander-Arnold’s ability going forward has never really been in question, it’s his defensive ability – or lack of – that has caused some to question his status as England’s number one right-back.

However, for all the criticism he’s received for his defensive displays, the right-back did well to contain the rapid United frontline and rarely put a foot wrong when tasked with shackling Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford.

Could he improve defensively? Absolutely, though it’s easy to forget that at 22 years of age he has plenty of time to grow and develop, and on this type of form it’s impossible not to consider him as England’s best right-back.

Adblock test

Man Utd 2-4 Liverpool: Player ratings as Reds come from behind to boost top four hopes

Liverpool boosted their Champions League hopes with a 4-2 win over arch rivals Manchester United on Thursday night in their rescheduled clash at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men raced into an early lead when Nathaniel Phillips attempted to prevent Bruno Fernandes’ effort heading towards goal and inadvertently sliced the ball into his own net.

Phillips had an awarded penalty overturned after he’d been tackled fairly by Eric Bailly in the box, but did eventually make amends for his earlier mistake when he fired across goal for Diogo Jota to flick in for the equaliser.

The game was flipped on its head as Roberto Firmino headed home to make it 2-1 to the visitors on the stroke of half-time.

United pressed the self-destruct button just two minutes into the second half as a catalogue of defensive errors led to Firmino slotting home his second of the evening, though the visitors’ lead was reduced back to one as Marcus Rashford slotted past Alisson with 20 minutes to play.

The home side pushed forward in search of a late equaliser but they were hit with a suckerpunch as Mohamed Salah ran clear and fired past Henderson to secure the three points.

Here are your United and Liverpool player ratings from Old Trafford…

Dean Henderson clears under pressure from Mohamed Salah
Dean Henderson clears under pressure from Mohamed Salah | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Dean Henderson (GK) – 5/10 – Nice save from Jota in the first half but was beaten immediately afterwards by a clever piece of play from the Portugal international. Will be disappointed to have fumbled Trent Alexander-Arnold’s effort in the build-up to Liverpool’s third.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB) – 6/10 – Steady defensively but still struggling to cause too many problems in the opposition’s final third.

Victor Lindelof (CB) – 6/10 – Given the runaround by the Liverpool frontline at times and clearly missed his usual centre-back partner Harry Maguire.

Eric Bailly (CB) – 5/10 –
Looked to have conceded a penalty in the first half though it would have been harsh. Went steaming into a number of tackles that he really didn’t have to make and looked like an accident waiting to happen at times.

Luke Shaw (LB) – 6/10 – Caused problems by Alexander-Arnold but did a decent job of stepping forward and supporting the attack.

Bruno Fernandes battles with Fabinho
Bruno Fernandes battles with Fabinho | Pool/Getty Images

Scott McTominay (CM) – 6/10 – Sprayed the ball around nicely in midfield but struggled to really get a grip on the game and became a bit of a passenger as it wore on.

Fred (CM) – 4/10 – Shambolic play in the build-up to Liverpool’s third as he gave the ball away on the edge of his own box. Chasing shadows for most of the game and was a calamity throughout.

Bruno Fernandes (AM) – 7/10 – As busy as always and continued to elude the Liverpool midfield by picking up pockets of space. Showcased his superb array of passing and always looked a threat in the final third.

Paul Pogba shields the ball
Paul Pogba shields the ball | Pool/Getty Images

Marcus Rashford (RW) – 6/10 – Barely had a kick in the first half and was crowded out on the one occasion he looked to have forged himself a yard of space in the Liverpool box. Livened up in the second and scored a good goal to make the score 3-2.

Edinson Cavani (ST) – 6/10 – Started to become more and more frustrated at how isolated he was and found himself dropping deep in a bid to impact the game. Knitted up play with the midfield nicely despite being starved of service.

Paul Pogba (LW) – 5/10 – Looked a threat from crosses and saw a decent header loop wide in the first half, but wasn’t quite as dominant in his own box having lost the run of Firmino for Liverpool’s second.

Mason Greenwood (ST) – 6/10

Nemanja Matic (CM) – N/A

Nathaniel Phillips diverts the ball past Alisson
Nathaniel Phillips diverts the ball past Alisson | Pool/Getty Images

Alisson Becker (GK) – 5/10 – Lucky to get away with a loose pass in the first half as he produced one of his weekly ‘uncharacteristic’ errors with the ball at his feet. Very little he could do about either of the United goals.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – 8/10 – Caused Luke Shaw all sorts of problems down the United left and delivered a brilliant cross to allow Firmino to put his side 2-1 up. His best display of the season by far.

Nathaniel Phillips (CB) – 7/10 – Perhaps unfortunate to spoon the ball into his own goal though his positioning in the build-up left a lot to be desired. Made up for his error with a brilliant assist for Jota’s goal and was solid throughout.

Rhys Williams (CB) – 6/10 – Displayed a good positional sense at the front post to cut out a number of United crosses.

Andy Robertson (LB) – 6/10 – Nowhere near as effective as Alexander-Arnold on the opposite flank but that’s not to say he was poor. Came within inches of preventing Rashford’s goal and possibly got the final touch.

Thiago looks to make his way past Fred
Thiago looks to make his way past Fred | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Thiago Alcantara (CM) – 6/10 – Neat and tidy without doing anything of note – copy and pasted from 95% of his Liverpool displays since arriving in England.

Fabinho (CM) – 6/10 – Combative and full of energy all evening but could have done better in the build-up to the United opener. Proved key in the latter stages as he sat in front of the Reds backline and disrupted United’s flow.

Georginio Wijnaldum (CM) – 5/10 – Not a particularly bad display but was very passive and seems to have been on the wind down since the turn of the year.

Roberto Firmino runs away from Fred
Roberto Firmino runs away from Fred | Pool/Getty Images

Mohamed Salah (RW) – 6/10 – The quietest of the Liverpool frontline. Barely had a kick but made up for his subpar display with a clinical goal late on to secure the three points.

Roberto Firmino (ST) – 7/10 – Looked to be struggling for confidence a little in the early stages, though that all changed following his brilliant header to hand Liverpool the lead before he doubled his tally early in the second half.

Diogo Jota (LW) – 7/10 – Nice little touch and shot which was well saved by Dean Henderson before grabbing a real poacher’s goal a few minutes later. A livewire throughout before being replaced by Sadio Mane late on.

Curtis Jones (CM) – 6/10

Sadio Mane (LW) – 5/10

Neco Williams (RB) – N/A

Adblock test

Man Utd’s clash with Liverpool again disrupted by fan protests

For the second time in less than two weeks Manchester United’s clash with Liverpool has been disrupted by fan protests prior to the game.

The two sides were originally scheduled to meet at Old Trafford on May 2, though the fixture was eventually called off following fan demonstrations both outside and inside Old Trafford.

What started as a gathering of fans chanting their displeasure at the Glazer ownership and the club’s decision to commit to the much maligned Super League ultimately ended with supporters breaching security and making their way onto the Old Trafford pitch.

Police were forced to attend the ground in a bid to clear the fans off the pitch and despite their successful efforts the game was ultimately cancelled.

The match was rearranged for Thursday 13 May – meaning United were forced to play three games in five days – though the clash was yet again the centre of fan protests.

Hundreds of United fans gathered on Sir Matt Busby Way prior to kick off, while reports soon emerged that the demonstrations had started to turn ugly with a group of fans pushing over a cameraman and his equipment.

The protestors could be heard chanting anti-Glazer songs as they gathered outside Old Trafford, while the Liverpool team bus was also targeted on its way to the team hotel.

The vehicle was blocked in the road before having its tyres deflated, with police forced to provide an escort so it could safely make its way to where the players were staying.

As kick off loomed the crowds began to swell considerably, with protestors clearly doing their utmost to gather on the route they believed the Liverpool bus would be taking on its way to Old Trafford.

By this point the police attendance had also grown in size, with officers wearing riot helmets making a wall in a bid to cordon off the mobile crowd.

Just minutes later the Liverpool team were pictured arriving at Old Trafford, with the bus targeted by fans earlier in the evening presumably used as a decoy vehicle allowing the bus carrying the Reds players to enter the ground almost unnoticed.

Since the Super League’s collapse the Glazer family have reached out to the United fan base in a bid to build bridges following their commital to join the breakaway league, though it seems it’s going to take much more than an open letter from Joel Glazer to repair the damage that has been done.

Adblock test

Premier League confirm renewal of TV deal in UK

The Premier League have confirmed that all 20 clubs have unanimously agreed to a three-year renewal of the TV deal held with Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC Sport and Amazon Prime in the United Kingdom.

The deal, which covers from the 2022/23 season up until 2024/25, is set to be worth the same figure as the current agreement, despite earlier reports suggesting the value could plummet because of the COVID-19 impact.

As part of the agreement, the Premier League confirmed on their official website that an extra £100m in funding will be slowly distributed to clubs between League One and the National League, with the womens’ game also set to profit over the next four years.

One of the biggest changes in this new deal comes on behalf of BT Sport, who have confirmed that any team playing on a Wednesday evening in Europe will never be asked to play in the 12:30 slot on Saturday afternoon.

If you listen quietly, you can hear Jurgen Klopp screaming in delight.

Jurgen Klopp
Klopp loved a heated debate over the early Saturday game | Pool/Getty Images

“The Premier League would like to express our gratitude to our broadcast partners for their continued commitment to the Premier League and support for the football pyramid,” said league chief executive Richard Masters. 

“We are hugely appreciative of the Government agreeing in principle to allow this arrangement and for their continued support for the Premier League and the English game. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on football, and renewals with our UK broadcast partners will reduce uncertainty, generate stability and promote confidence within the football pyramid. 

“We know that, once concluded, this will have a positive impact on the wider industry, jobs and tax revenues and will enable us to maintain and increase our existing solidarity and community financial commitments to the football pyramid for the next four years, even though we are yet to understand the full impact of the pandemic.  

“It comes at an important time and will enable us to plan ahead with increased certainty against a more stable economic backdrop.  

“Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and BBC Sport are excellent partners and provide fantastic coverage and programming to bring our competition to fans in the UK.” 

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!

Adblock test

Mikel Arteta hits out at media for ‘fake quotes’ over Arsenal’s effort levels

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has unloaded on the media, blasting reporters for trying to drive a wedge between him and his players before Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Chelsea.

In the build-up to the game, Arteta was asked whether he felt his players had given him maximum effort this season, to which he replied: “With the majority of them, yes. Some of them can get to a certain level and you cannot push them any further. You want to evolve them but it’s not possible.”

Mikel Arteta
Arteta was accused of criticising his players | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Those comments ended up in articles claiming Arteta had hit out at the effort of his players, supposedly blasting some in the dressing room for letting him down. Understandably, the boss wasn’t best pleased, and his post-match interview got a little heated.

“Nothing is broken. Inside, nothing is broken,” he told Sky Sports. “They [the media] try to put things on me that I never said.

“You can see the spirit of the team from the first minute. It doesn’t matter whether we’re playing seventh, eighth, ninth. You can never doubt their efforts and how much they are trying.

“I said that if I don’t get 120% off each player, it’s my fault and my responsibility, but it wasn’t [portrayed] like that in the press and I am so annoyed with that. I will defend my players in front of anybody for the rest of the time that I’m here. They deserve that because they earn it every single day.

“Every player that is here does that. If he doesn’t, he is not here, because the only thing I’m going to demand until the last day is that they give me everything that they have. That is unquestionable and non-negotiable, 100%.”

Arteta went on to insist that his players proved they are prepared to give their all for the cause in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Chelsea, which saw the Gunners dig deep and defend for almost the entirety of the game.

“They [the media] are not going to break [our team spirit],” he continued. “They can try, but they’re not going to break that. Not the chemistry that we have – not only with the players but with our staff, with the board. They can’t touch that. If they try to touch it, it can be with opinions, but not by saying something that I never said. I’m not taking that.

“I am really happy with a lot of things we’ve done [against Chelsea]. Right from the first minute, the attitude and the desire that we showed.

“We had to dig in, which you have to against this team because they are a fantastic team. We did it and we gave everything we had to try to do the best possible job and we did it.

“It’s a big win for the club, for the players and for the fans. I know how much a London derby means and it’s been ten years since we’ve won at this ground so that tells you how hard it is.”

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!

Adblock test