Alexander-Arnold’s recent performances have been criticised, with Liverpool struggling for consistency in the early stages of the season. Jurgen Klopp’s side were thrashed 4-1 by Napoli in their opening Champions League match of the campaign on Wednesday and have won just two of their six Premier League games.
Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia dominated Alexander-Arnold in Naples earlier in the week, with the home side racing into a 4-0 lead by 47 minutes. Concerns about Alexander-Arnold’s defensive capabilities are not new – it has been an almost ever-present talking point – and former Liverpool midfielder Murphy believes it could prove costly.
Gareth Southgate will name his England squad for upcoming friendlies against Italy and Germany on Thursday and, as ever, Alexander-Arnold is facing tough competition from Kieran Trippier, Reece James and Kyle Walker at right-back. Murphy thinks Alexander-Arnold should sacrifice some of his attacking threat in order to address his defensive weaknesses – starting against Ajax on Tuesday.
“The best players make good decisions at the right time but if Jordan Henderson is injured, Trent can look isolated when he goes forward without having the same defensive insurance around him,” Murphy wrote for the Daily Mail.
“He has to look at his positional play and smell danger a bit quicker. He has been given free rein for a long time but he should protect himself better, even if it means sacrificing some forward runs. Liverpool have looked complacent this season but I don’t mean players failing to give 100 per cent. It’s more a lack of sharpness or failing to do the basics when you’ve not had any competition for your position.
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“I sometimes slid into the comfort zone and needed a jolt. I’m not saying Trent is the same but the coaches at Liverpool could spend more time with him analysing the defensive parts of his game that need work. He is a good listener so his issues are easily resolved. Small details can make a big difference.”
Speaking more generally after the Napoli defeat, Klopp rejected the idea that his side needed to make major changes to their style. “We have to kind of reinvent ourselves. Basic things were not there. It’s a difficult period, no doubt about that,” he said.
“If you are not playing exceptionally well you can still defend on a really high level, you should be able to do that – and we are but in this moment we are kind of in between. It’s not that we have to reinvent a new kind of football, we always try to improve, but at this moment everyone would be happy if we could play similar stuff to what we ‘used’ to play.”
This content was originally published here.