Liverpool are unofficial league leaders since making a big change with Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Scouser has changed the game.
An interesting variant of the Premier League table has been doing the rounds since Wednesday evening. Journalist Andrew Beasley shared how things look since a specific time in 2023 - when Liverpool changed how Trent Alexander-Arnold plays.
Until this year, Alexander-Arnold had played as a fairly typical full-back. He stayed wide, looked for the overlap, and delivered crosses into the box or angled passes from deep. But things weren't really working for the Reds last season.
As they looked for new ideas, Pep Lijnders suggested they create a hybrid role for their right-back. Instead of simply looking down the line, Alexander-Arnold would be allowed to drift inside.
The idea was that he'd have a lot more freedom with the ball. Liverpool could then take advantage of his skillset in different ways, rather than simply limiting him to the flank.
“We wanted an extra player [in midfield], but above all, we wanted Trent Alexander-Arnold in the middle,” Lijnders told the Training Guru podcast.
“Because we all know from the inside he can go everywhere, even the shots from distance, that he can find the forwards in the way nobody else can.
“He plays the passes the forwards like to receive!
“I remember the discussions before, and I said to Jurgen ‘please, I will give all my salary for next year, all my salary, if it doesn’t work – but we have to try, because this boy, from the inside, will be a present’.”
The change worked a treat and Liverpool instantly improved, enjoying a far more productive time with Alexander-Arnold's freedom. So much so, in fact, that they have more Premier League points than anyone since that change.
Not to be taken too seriously: pic.twitter.com/nPcjQWFRBw
— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) December 6, 2023
It's now 25 games since the change, with the Reds losing just once (to Tottenham Hotspur this season) and racking up 58 points. That moves them ahead of City in the time frame after results this week.
As Beasley points out, no one should take this too seriously as there are a lot of other factors at play. For one, this data covers two seasons.
But it does show that Alexander-Arnold's move transformed Liverpool from a struggling side to one competitive with the best again. And nothing demonstrated that better than his winning goal - as an out-and-out midfielder, no less - against Fulham last weekend.
The Reds have found something special here and it'll be fascinating to see how it develops from here.