To say Trent Alexander-Arnold isn’t Gareth Southgate’s number one choice at right back is an understatement.
The Playing just 33 minutes of England’s World Cup campaign heading into the knockout stages, the chances of the Liverpool defender featuring any longer is unlikely.
Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier started the Three Lions’ opening two games against Iran and USA, with Manchester City’s Kyle Walker given the nod to return to the team versus Wales, following a groin injury.
Consequently, the 2019 Champions League winner appears to be Southgate’s final resort as a full back option.
The injury to Reece James heading into Finals could have opened a door but despite all of his qualities, and experience he looks set to be on the side lines.
So what could the 24-year-old bring to the England team which could be vital in the closing stages of the competition?
Last Premier League season, Alexander-Arnold registered the second most assists in the league (12), just one behind his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah.
He also recorded double figures in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons, which was unheard of by a defender before then.
Although England captain Harry Kane is yet to register a goal in the tournament, he is the Premier League’s third top scorer with 195 goals. Meaning a link up between the forward and the full back could only lead to one thing – goals.
Ironically Kane tops the assists records at this year’s World Cup with three, though if he was on the end of the passes instead, England could cause more problems with the finishing capabilities of Tottenham striker.
Not only is Alexander-Arnold known for providing the “final ball” he has the range of passing skills to match.
In this season’s Premier League, the right back is third in key passes, passes into the box and second behind Kevin de Bruyne for crosses per 90 minutes.
These abilities could be the difference playing a team like Senegal in the knockout stages. His 27 key passes in the league have become game changing moments for Liverpool who have become increasingly reliant on his skills.
Dead Ball Specialist
It doesn’t matter if it’s a corner or a free-kick, Alexander Arnold’s dead ball execution is consistent.
Since making his debut aged 18, the defender has always been the first to claim the ball for set-pieces. Anfield supporters now only too well by now why. His quick thinking with a cheeky corner in the astonishing 4-0 win over Barcelona in 2019, finished by Divock Origi, will live long in the memory.
Through the towering Harry Maguire and Kane, England should be a much greater threat from set plays that we have only seen glimpses of in past tournaments.
Although Alexander-Arnold may not have hit the heights recently that he has done in previous campaigns, the right back has the potential to change a game.
The attacking strengths he owns are too valuable to not take advantage of, which could have been the difference between success and failure in England’s last couple of tournaments.
The Three Lions face Senegal in the World Cup Round of 16 on Sunday evening (7pm kick off). Alexander-Arnold will be hoping to start his first game of the tournament.