Kept Out Of England Squad, Alexander-Arnold Sparkles In Dominating Win Over Arsenal

Trent Alexander-Arnold played a key role in all three goals as Liverpool routed Arsenal 3-0.

Gareth Southgate made the surprising decision to keep Liverpool fullback Trent Alexander-Arnold off his England squad for March’s World Cup qualifiers. The 22-year-old, who was named to the PFA Team of the Year the last two seasons, wasn’t deemed good enough for the Three Lions, perhaps a victim of his club’s poor run of form.

In his first match since missing the critical World Cup qualifiers, Alexander-Arnold reminded Southgate what he can do, providing a superb cross for the opener and shutting down Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the other end to help Liverpool beat Arsenal 3-0 on Saturday at the Emirates.

Whether Alexander-Arnold was motivated by his snub or revitalized by the time off, the fullback was a key part of Liverpool returning to fifth place, two points out of the final Champions League spot in the Premier League. Jürgen Klopp’s side, which has been eliminated from contention for the EPL title, will hope Saturday’s win marks a turn-around to a horrible start to 2021, especially with a visit to Real Madrid coming in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Trent Alexander-Arnold vs Arsenal

Liverpool dominated possession in the first half but rarely troubled Bernd Leno in goal. TAA helped change the narrative in the second half with his passing. Diogo Jota, superb with Portugal over the international break, came on in the 61st minute and three minutes later he headed in the opener. He barely had to do anything to put the ball away, with Alexander-Arnold’s pass doing most of the hard work (not to take anything away from Jota’s excellent header). 

The goal appeared to deflate the Gunners, who had barely seen the ball all game. But Liverpool was spurred on by the strike, and four minutes later Mohamed Salah made it 2-0 by going five-hole on Leno.

If you’re being generous, you could credit Alexander-Arnold with a hockey assist on the second goal. You could also generously credit him with a hockey assist on Liverpool’s third, when he stole the ball with a pass straight to Salah, whose ensuing cross found Jota to hammer home.

It’s worth mentioning TAA’s defense as well, as he helped silence the Arsenal attack. Aubameyang struggled to find any sort of avenue forward on the left wing and was ultimately replaced in the 77th minute. (It helped that Arsenal left back Kieran Tierney left the match injured in the first half.)

Liverpool’s pressing prevented the Gunners from maintaining any sort of possession as the Reds looked comfortable seeing out the win in what has to be seen as a disappointing display from the home side. Alisson Becker, who shaved his beard but kept his mustache over the break, made a couple of routine saves to ensure the clean sheet. 

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While England was just fine without Alexander-Arnold, winning all three of its qualifying matches, one has to wonder what Southgate was trying to do by leaving TAA out of the squad. Was he trying to motivate the youngster to improve his form ahead of this summer’s Euros or does he think the likes of Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Reece James are better options for him at right back? Either way, if Trent keeps playing like he did Saturday, it’ll be hard to keep him off the England squad moving forward. 

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