Anniversary of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s first Premier League departure offers a chance for redemption
January 15, 2017 was the date it all came together for Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Over the next four years, he shattered Anfield’s glass ceiling. He broke records, he was world champion, European champion, Premier League champion. He was directly involved in just under 50 goals, ran in double digits for the England caps and became one of the best right-backs on the planet.
Exactly four years since he was thrown into the deep at Old Trafford for his first Premier League start, he has already accomplished more than most people can dream of in their entire career.
Still, as he prepares to face United for the fifth time this weekend, he again feels like he has something left to prove.
He may have done it all and won it all so far, but he will take to the pitch at Anfield on Sunday on the back of one of his worst performances in a Liverpool shirt.
He gave up possession 38 times in the 1-0 defeat to Southampton, by far the most players in a single game this season, and those recurring questions about his defensive abilities had good reason to resurface after turning off and lost Danny Ings for the only goal of the game.
While his formidable attacking power can normally make up for his shortcomings, even that has diminished this season. He has managed two assists in 15 Premier League appearances, and none in his last three, as Liverpool have lost points to West Brom, Newcastle and the Saints. Heading into the Reds’ biggest game of the season so far, their charmed right-back couldn’t be in worse shape.
The thing is … did we consider it to be just that? Form?
Trent and Liverpool have set the bar so high for themselves over the past few seasons that any deviation from their bizarre standards is considered catastrophic. Their success shifted the goals to what is and not acceptable, to the point that they played three league games without a win for the first time in three years, and there is already talk that one more loss could cancel the season.
As the Premier League returns to normalcy of a truly open title race, with four points separating the top five teams, it becomes clear that it was unrealistic to expect Liverpool to continue to brush 100 points season after season. season. Just as it was unrealistic to expect Mohamed Salah to maintain Lionel Messi’s goal which he displayed in his debut season.
Just as it’s unrealistic to expect Trent Alexander-Arnold, a 22-year-old who has already racked up over 150 senior appearances, to maintain his ridiculous form for an entire career without ever diving.
The past few years have desensitized us to normalcy on all fronts, but what we are seeing now East Ordinary. It’s human. A young player, exhausted after the festive program, going through a difficult period of form. No more than that.
It cannot be denied that he lacks confidence. As he struggled out of the pitch with ten minutes left against Southampton, his head was bowed; something we’ve rarely seen since he entered the fray at Old Trafford in 2017. But it’s something he’ll come out of ASAP.
He just needs a turn. A great game in which he can pick himself up, dust himself off and remind everyone that he is the same player who chose Leicester apart from just over a year ago.
If only there was a potentially decisive derby match on the immediate horizon …