Analysis: Alexander-Arnold reaction speaks volumes
It was a celebration that spoke volumes, writes Paul Gorst in his analysis.
As Diogo Jota wheeled away to mark his 11th goal of the season, it was his assist-maker whose outpouring of emotion was more profound.
It’s been a surprisingly difficult three weeks without Liverpool action for Trent Alexander-Arnold.
After the head-scratching omission from England duty – and the subsequent explanation for it, at length, from Gareth Southgate, who publicly detailed a dip in form – Alexander-Arnold found himself in a curious position not of his own making.
Some insiders at Liverpool were shocked by the England dropping, but the player himself, to his credit, was unwavering in his public support on social media during the Three Lions’ three successive wins without him.
The message was clear from Alexander-Arnold: Nothing to see here. Not from his perspective, at least.
But his loud scream at the breaking of the deadlock from Jota said it all.
It was a big goal for the Liverpool forward, but also for the England international, whose world-class delivery left his team-mate with the most inviting of balls to attack.
Question marks have remained around Alexander-Arnold all season, but the PFA Young Player of the Year has probably had a little too much scrutiny placed on him given the almost comical juggling that Jurgen Klopp has had to do for much of this season.
Klopp’s defence of his right-back was firm on Friday and only what Alexander-Arnold might reasonably have expected from the man who made him a Liverpool star, but the Reds boss was preaching to the converted for the majority of Reds fans.
“I don’t want to make a funny discussion now about Trent,” said Klopp after the game. “It’s Gareth’s decision but Trent is in a good shape. And if someone says he is not, I have to say you are wrong.”
The West Derby-born defender is not above constructive criticism, of course, but his standards have not been anywhere at the sub-zero level some have tried to argue since the England omission.
Here he was back to his excellent best. And in this form, there is no better right-back in this country, whatever Southgate thinks.