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Trent Alexander-Arnold: What’s going on, buddy?


If you turned your TV off while sulking at half-time around 8:45 p.m. on Thursday night, you’re not alone.

On the brink of half-time in Liverpool’s clash with Burnley at Anfield, Trent Alexander-Arnold stepped up to take a free kick off the edge of the box… and threw it into the pit.

After such a collectively poor team performance that it has since been called a mark of a real crisis, it may seem odd to focus on a moment of fleeting waste. But that was a clear symptom of a larger problem – Liverpool’s creative threat from the right has lost its swagger.

Trent cut a defeated figure all night long
Trent cut a defeated figure all evening | Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

We’ve seen him cleanse himself since his dismal performance against Newcastle just after Christmas, where he gave the ball 31 times – more than any player in a single Premier League game at this point.

He has since ceded possession 38 times against Southampton and 39 times against Burnley. He loses a competition against himself and he doesn’t seem to know how to stop it.

Liverpool were generally devoid of ideas against the Clarets, their usual incisive pass giving way to a shoot-out approach that left Nick Pope much more comfortable than his eight saves suggest. But where they would normally look to Alexander-Arnold for inspiration, it was nowhere to be found. Incredibly, he attempted 21 crosses, and only one of them found a red shirt.

It was a corner.

With most of the pieces in the series, such as with Timo Werner and Zinedine Zidane, it can be difficult to answer the question directly. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity – What’s going on, mate? has multitudes.

With Trent, however, the answer is simple. As is the case with many of his teammates, he looks exhausted and is desperately lacking in self-confidence.

The ideal solution might be to leave him out of the squad for a short time, but that’s not a luxury Jurgen Klopp can afford when his two main center-backs are on the sidelines. If their defense becomes more improvised, they risk collapsing like a poorly constructed Ikea desk – not ideal when they’ve gone 432 minutes without scoring.

It’s unfair to point the finger entirely at Alexander-Arnold here, of course. It’s easy to lose among all the assists and accolades he’s only 22. The responsibility of pulling Liverpool out of the doldrums rests with everyone, and once the more seasoned players around him rediscover the winning mentality that led them to the title last season, we should start to see his best form shine.

Part of what made Alexander-Arnold such a revelation at this point, however, was his choppy streak – the ability to shake things up, coupled with a burning desire to use him, even when the chips are exhausted.

He’s never been the type to bow his head, but when he watched his strike against Burnley sail on a grand scale, there was a look of calm resignation on his face that could test the management skills of the Klopp’s men over the next few weeks.

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