It’s not the first time this season that Trent Alexander-Arnold has wowed Liverpool supporters with his world-class skill. But more often than not, it has come on a cross from the right or a pinpoint set-piece delivery. The goal that put away Newcastle at Anfield Road took the wow factor to another level.
Alexander-Arnold whipped his right foot at the bit of leather on the field, the net rippled, and Anfield exploded.
Scoring his second goal of the season, the 23-year-old right back secured all three vital points for Liverpool in the midst of a Premier League title race. He also raised some eyebrows in the process (and forced referee Mike Dean into a memorable sprint out of the way).
“I told him after the game it was his best long ball today,” manager Jurgen Klopp told media after the match. “It was a stunner. His shooting technique is a different level.”
Alexander-Arnold somehow looks to be hitting another level this season. With 16 England caps already under his belt, he is redefining the right back position.
In a game in which Liverpool dominated possession against relegation battlers Newcastle, TAA completed 64 of 84 passes, including 29 of 43 in the attacking third and six of 13 in the penalty area. Completing six passes in the 18-yard-box is a significant haul for a forward, let alone a fullback.
It’s well-known that Klopp loves to see his fullbacks bomb up the pitch and get into attacking areas, but he needs the players who can do it.
In Alexander-Arnold, Klopp has that player and he knows it. Earlier this year, Klopp called him the best right back in the world and he laughed off talk of moving him into midfield for England’s national team when he epitomizes the modern-day fullback.
Over the 90 minutes against Newcastle, Alexander-Arnold recovered eight loose balls, completed five accurate crosses, found his mark with two of six corners, and created three chances. That’s as well-rounded a performance as any fullback could hope for.
But that’s not what has everyone buzzing. It’s his hammer of a right foot. Flash back to November 7 and what resulted in the only loss of the season so far for Liverpool — Alexander-Arnold flicked his right foot and delivered a strike into the top corner:
West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski had no chance. While Liverpool would go on to lose that match, Alexander-Arnold had a collector’s item.
Last season against Tottenham, on what wasn’t exactly a difficult chance off a saved Sadio Mane shot, he still managed to strike a bobbling ball cleanly and powerfully.
Then there was the strike against Aston Villa in April of last season, when he whipped the ball in from outside the box with precision. We could keep going.
And yet, Thursday’s goal was the pick of the lot. Those are Alexander-Arnold’s words.
“I’ve been waiting for that for five years now, hitting it clean like that!” Alexander-Arnold said to BT Sport after the match. “I’ve had a few ones from the edge of the box and I’ve dragged them. I’ve caught that one sweet, it’s nestled in the top corner and obviously put the game to bed.”
Alexander-Arnold doesn’t score too often — it’s not his primary job on the field — but when he does, it usually involves that right foot. It’s produced countless crosses and free kicks, but when it scores goals of the quality seen against Newcastle, the world definitely takes notice.
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