Friday, March 22, 2019

Manchester United v Liverpool: Alexander-Arnold gets chance to show growth at Old Trafford

SoccerNews in English Premier League 21 Feb 2019

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Less than 12 months ago, a trip to Old Trafford led to major questions over Trent Alexander-Arnold, but Sunday shapes as being different for the Liverpool full-back.

Alexander-Arnold, 20, came under fire after being caught out by Marcus Rashford, who scored twice inside 25 minutes in United’s 2-1 win in March 2018.

But the England international has grown tremendously even since then, and his return from a knee injury has come at a good time for Jurgen Klopp’s stuttering title contenders.

As ever, James Milner – and captain Jordan Henderson against Leicester City – did an admirable job at right-back in Alexander-Arnold’s absence.

However, Liverpool have proven to be better with than without the speedy Alexander-Arnold, who has played 18 of their 26 Premier League games this season.

The Reds average more goals for (2.4 to 2) and fewer goals against (0.5 to 0.8) with Alexander-Arnold, although they won five of those eight games, with three draws.

Liverpool have been much more solid defensively this season, conceding just 15 times in 26 league games, and Alexander-Arnold has benefited from a more balanced approach by Klopp’s men.

It is easy to forget Alexander-Arnold is just 20, and has already developed into a Liverpool regular, the club so comfortable with his displays they allowed Nathaniel Clyne to join Bournemouth on loan in January.

Capped five times by England, he has made huge strides defensively since Liverpool’s trip to Old Trafford last year. According to Opta, he has made no errors leading to shots in the Premier League this season. In comparison, fellow full-back Andy Robertson has three, having played six more games.

Less than a month after his miserable outing at Manchester United, Alexander-Arnold produced a huge performance opposed to Manchester City star Leroy Sane in the Champions League.

He may or may not get a chance to directly atone for his display a year ago, depending on where Rashford plays for a United side with some uncertainty over the makeup of their attack due to Anthony Martial’s groin injury.

But Liverpool – who have won just one of their past three Premier League games – have missed Alexander-Arnold and returning to the scene of a tough outing is another chance for the full-back to show just how much.

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