football

Alexander-Arnold serves up stylish reminder after Liverpool star's stats pile-on


In the Liverpool pile-on, there have been statistics used to bash Trent Alexander-Arnold this season.

No-one, it seems, gives the ball away quite like the most vaunted English full-back of recent times.

But maybe that is because Alexander-Arnold tries to do more things than most full-backs.

More shots, more crosses, more surging runs.

Quite simply, more adventure, more risk.

But amidst this mediocre spell for one and all at Anfield, the likes of Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones have not lost their bravado, their swagger.



Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool
It’s been a difficult campaign for the England international and his side

Theirs was not a direct combination for the goal that put Liverpool on the path to a first Premier League win since January, but their input was crucial to helping Jurgen Klopp’s side snap their losing streak.

Alexander-Arnold’s drive and pace somehow kept a ball in play and after Phil Jagielka’s ill-fated intervention, Jones finished with the sort of confidence that has distinguished his game since his emergence.

Here were two local lads, amidst the glumness surrounding recent team performances, giving a reminder of the long-term future’s promise.

And after the pair had made the second half breakthrough, it was plain sailing for the champions.

As it should have been from the off, of course.



Curtis Jones celebrates opening the scoring at Bramall Lane
Curtis Jones celebrates opening the scoring at Bramall Lane

Regardless of Liverpool’s recent run, there is still a significant gap between themselves and the likes of Sheffield United.

You can safely call it a gulf.

Even allowing for the absence of the two first-choice centre-halves and captain, Liverpool’s starting eleven should have been a class above Chris Wilder’s team.

In the main, they were, and formalities would have been wrapped up early had the formidable front three been in the sort of touch that has decorated recent seasons.

But while it would be easy to tag Roberto Firmino’s miss with a lack of confidence, that would be doing a sprawling Aaron Ramsdale an injustice.

Firmino was certainly in decent enough nick to send Mohamed Salah clear but, not for the first time in his life, the Egyptian cocked a deaf ear to the pleas of a wonderfully-positioned Sadio Mane.

You suspect it was not the last Salah heard of the matter.



Roberto Firmino and Curtis Jones celebrate
Firmino did eventually get his goal – until it was taken away

Soon after, Trent Alexander-Arnold also declined a good crossing opportunity, but with good reason and only a decent Ramsdale save denied the full-back.

Ramsdale’s opposite number, Adrian, was not completely unworried but David McGoldrick’s header and Ozan Kabak’s ‘own goal’ were deemed irrelevant by the assistant’s flag and routine VAR checks.

Still, Liverpool’s reluctance to score first half Premier League goals – it is one in eleven – and Ramsdale’s resistance kept the Blades in business, heading into the second half.

And after starting brightly post-interval, Wilder might have spied a shock but Jones’ emphatic finish dimmed that hope and Firmino’s quick feet extinguished it.

The deflection off Kean Bryan was decisive enough for those who like to award own goals to get involved but it was the Brazilian’s ingenuity that doubled the lead and secured a win that brought a grin of relief from Klopp.

For Wilder, only a resigned smile.

They laboured hard and honestly, and created the odd half-chance but had Ramsdale not been in peak form, this defeat against a Liverpool side nowhere near its best would have been crushing.

Sad to say but their fate is all but sealed.

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