Klopp’s Liverpool: The Obsession With Trent’s Defensive Flaws


With 67 minutes gone at a breezy Etihad Stadium, on an afternoon that seesawed like a listing ship on a spring tide, Trent Alexander-Arnold could be seen twirling and jinking high up the pitch on the Liverpool right flank, a place he occupied for much of the afternoon.

Eventually, his cross was cut out by a City foot. Kevin De Bruyne, produced the perfect through pass for Raheem Sterling to skitter away upfield.

Sterling ran the length of Liverpool’s right flank, then stopped, twirled, stopped again, crowded out now by two red shirts. One of these was Alexander-Arnold himself, loping back in that dogged style, with the air even at a top speed of a man trotting along the beach with a surfboard under one arm.

As the ball trickled out of play Alexander-Arnold bent double and clutched his knees, chest heaving, the end of just another installment in his own thrillingly high-stakes game of risk and reward.

The Liverpool v Man City Affair Ended In A Draw

By the end of this 2-2 draw, Liverpool’s right-sided defensive playmaker had made a goal, almost made quite a few others, passed the ball with wonderful elan, and resembled at other times an open wound on the right, isolated by a well-executed plan from Pep Guardiola.

No doubt the entire Alexander-Arnold methodology will be pored over once again. It has become a truism to mutter darkly about his defending, as though in allowing this monster, this defensive refusenik to even take the field Jürgen Klopp is somehow revealing to the world his blindness, his tactical illiteracy.

The internet says Alexander‑Arnold can’t defend – and not just that he can’t defend, that his defense is a kind of outrage, a societal toxin. The truth is not just in the middle, but a great deal more interesting. How do you solve a problem like Trent? The answer to this is a blank look, a shrug. What problem, exactly, are we talking about?

Better, perhaps, to imagine a Liverpool team where the right‑back sits, covers, and blocks up the space. Because the current one, that era-forging Klopp machine, is built to a startling degree around that balance of risk and creativity on the right. It was all on show here in a beautifully open, beautifully flawed game of elite club football, which seemed to center in so many ways around Liverpool’s right-back.

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