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Chief playmaker Alexander-Arnold is again
Loads has been stated about Trent Alexander-Arnold this season, with the England worldwide finally considered one of various Liverpool gamers not as their finest.
Scrutiny concerning his defensive skills has grown louder and louder, with a mid-season World Cup and the talk concerning his England place admittedly an undesirable distraction.
In the meantime, his attacking returns have been nowhere close to their earlier price. Boasting 18 assists final season because the Reds so practically landed an unprecedented quadruple, he amazingly didn’t document any earlier than the break for the World Cup.
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And even heading into Liverpool’s journey to Newcastle, the right-back had solely formally registered two assists this season. But that doesn’t inform the total story.
Credited for establishing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in opposition to Brentford and Darwin Nunez in opposition to Wolves at Anfield within the FA Cup, it was Alexander-Arnold’s cross that led Wout Faes’ first personal objective within the Reds’ 2-1 victory over Leicester Metropolis in December. In the meantime, his help for Cody Gakpo’s objective in opposition to Everton on Monday night time was taken off him courtesy of a deflection.
But there was no taking his newest help off him at St. James’ Park as he arrange Nunez’s opener with an inch-perfect lofted go ahead. Such a go didn’t are available isolation, with Liverpool’s chief playmaker again to his artistic finest and the Reds’ finest participant in opposition to Newcastle.
Hungry to get ahead at each alternative, he supported Mohamed Salah repeatedly and whipped in various nice passes and crosses, together with his whole of 4 key passes was the very best of his team-mates. This has more and more been the case once more in current weeks.
And whereas his critics will nonetheless choose holes in his defending, he performed an important position in Liverpool preserving a clear sheet in opposition to Newcastle. Up in opposition to the tempo and trickery of Alan Saint-Maximin, whereas the ahead was a nuisance at instances, Liverpool’s right-back managed him nicely.
Alexander-Arnold will at all times be the topic of debate, there isn’t any escaping that. In the end soccer followers will at all times be in disagreement about his strengths and weaknesses as a participant and a defender. However at the very least we will all agree that the right-back is now not a participant off form.
Van Dijk returns after break that will have been a lift
When Liverpool confronted Actual Madrid in final yr’s Champions League remaining, Virgil van Dijk went into it chilly. Pressured off damage in opposition to Chelsea within the FA Cup remaining, he sat out a visit to former membership Southampton earlier than an unused substitute look in opposition to Wolves on the ultimate day of the season.
Such preparations for the largest recreation in membership soccer had been at all times removed from ideally suited. At the very least when the Reds lock horns with Carlo Ancelotti’s males once more on Tuesday, the identical can’t be stated.
Pressured off with a hamstring damage in opposition to Brentford final month, Van Dijk made his taking part in return in opposition to Newcastle as he helped Liverpool make it back-to-back clear sheets. Admittedly a bit rusty at instances in opposition to the Magpies, he was at the very least a magnet within the field when it got here to clearing crosses and stifling the host’s assaults.
The 31-year-old hasn’t been at his finest this season and would be the first to confess that. A mid-season World Cup hasn’t helped on that entrance.
However given how usually the Reds have been stung by damage this season, maybe this time it has really confirmed to be a bit useful.
Van Dijk stays one of many first names on Klopp’s teamsheet, and rightly so. It’s why it was no shock to see him thrown straight into the beginning XI when the German declared him prepared to begin in Friday’s pre-match press convention.
However his schedule over the previous 18 months following his return from that severe ACL damage has maybe taken its toll. At the very least his month on the sidelines has taken Van Dijk out of that firing line.
Now refreshed and again to full health, he’s again to marshall Liverpool’s high 4 cost. Given the Reds’ defensive failings at instances this season, his return hasn’t come a second too quickly.
Prime 4 cost is on
For as poor as Liverpool have been at instances this season, their victory over Newcastle United was their tenth of the Premier League marketing campaign. Such a complete is the same as the Magpies.
Outcomes on Saturday finally went their means at Brentford, Brighton, and Chelsea all dropped factors, with Fulham the one aspect round them within the desk to win. In actuality, these gained’t be the edges Klopp’s males are aiming to compete with within the desk come Could.
As much as eighth within the desk, and behind Brighton solely on objectives scored, Liverpool have video games in hand on Fulham and Tottenham forward of them – each of whom nonetheless have to come back to Anfield.
However extra importantly, Saturday’s win leaves them simply six factors off Newcastle United and the highest 4. With the Magpies not in Premier League motion subsequent weekend due to the League Cup remaining, and the Reds taking part in twice courtesy of their game-in-hand with Wolves on March 1, Liverpool can eradicate their deficit fully earlier than Eddie Howe’s aspect return to league motion away at Man Metropolis subsequent month.
Finishing a league double over Newcastle, the Reds stay the one aspect to have overwhelmed the Magpies within the Premier League this season. Trying up the desk, after back-to-back wins and clear sheets, they now have each purpose to be assured.
For as poor as Liverpool had been in January, struggling heavy defeats to Brentford, Brighton, and Wolves, they remained within the hunt. Whereas Kopites may not have realised it on the time, reluctant to take a look at the league desk off the again of every disappointing show, the Reds are nonetheless in Champions League rivalry.
They’ve been on this place earlier than in fact, ending third in opposition to the percentages in 2020/21. Now having overwhelmed Newcastle, the race for high 4 is nicely and actually on.