Liverpool’s homegrown talent
Following the unsatisfactory yet highly entertainingly 3-3 draw with Watford to kick off their Premier League campaign, Liverpool responded in the best possible way by overcoming Hoffenheim 2-1 in their all-important Champions League qualifier.
Even though they didn’t have things all their own way, the exceptional performance of Reds youngster, Trent Alexander-Arnold, played a vital role in tipping the tie in the away side’s favor. Looking right at home at the elite level, the 18-year-old coped superbly with whatever Julian Nagelsman’s side threw at him and even stepped up to fire home a scintillating first half free kick.
From his right-back slot, the Englishman was instrumental on both sides of the ball, using his incredibly multifaceted skillset to be a key cog for Jurgen Klopp’s team. On the defensive end, he was confronted with the challenge of dealing with Hoffenheim’s crafty midfield and attacking rotations, which he did so admirably, as he showed excellent judgment when to crossover a marking assignment, inherit a marker or hold his position. His decision-making needed to be spot on too, especially considering he had to handle Sandro Wagner’s dropping movement, Serge Gnabry’s pace and dynamism, Kerem Demirbay’s class and Lukas Rupp’s persistent probing at various stages during the contest. If he was caught out, however, his searing pace often allowed him to recover his position and get back into a position to defend effectively.
Meanwhile, his offensive exertions were equally impressive, in a match where he chose his opportunities well to get forward and coalesced nicely with his winger, Mohamed Salah. Demonstrating his slick passing on many occasions, he also served as an accomplished competent in the Merseysiders’ possession phases, while crucially keeping his composure when he ventured into the final third.
By the numbers, his two dribbles, two tackles, three interceptions, five clearances and the fact he completed the equal most passes of any Liverpool player further accentuated his influence.
While Klopp was full of praise in his post-match comments for the starlet, he did make a point of noting that he still has room for improvement. “He is an incredible young player,” Klopp proclaimed.
“I have to say for an 18-year-old to have the balls to kick a free-kick like that is more interesting and exciting for me than a little mistake he made. It was an intensive game for him. He has still some things to learn. He thought it was offside but it was obviously not offside, unfortunately. Trent is a great player and I have to say I would rather have 2-1 than 1-0.”
The player himself was suitably delighted with his decisive output, explaining: “It [scoring the goal] is indescribable, to be honest. Special in so many different ways for me personally and I’ve definitely ticked the box off. At first, I didn’t know it was going to go in but it was well placed and I thought it was a good free-kick and I was happy it went in.”
With Liverpool now in the box seat to achieve qualification for Europe’s most coveted club competition for the first time in three years, the man who joined the club as a six-year-old really couldn’t have dreamt of a better debut in the competition.
In homegrown hero Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool unquestionably has a unique talent, who’s got all the qualities to one day develop into a truly world class player.
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