Trent Alexander-Arnold’s recent resurgence continued with a starring role in Liverpool’s 4-2 win at Manchester United on Thursday night.
The full-back was left out of England’s last squad in March but Gareth Southgate was in attendance at Old Trafford and would surely have been impressed.
Here, the PA news agency looks at how Alexander-Arnold’s performances compare to past seasons.
Costly errors against Southampton in the league and Real Madrid in the Champions League increased the scrutiny on Alexander-Arnold and a look at his defensive statistics does show some drop-off from his previous high standards.
It is important to put that in the context of his attacking role in Liverpool’s system, and the effect of injuries elsewhere in their back four.
Key man Virgil Van Dijk has missed the bulk of the season, along with fellow centre-backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, with the knock-on effect of Jordan Henderson often having to play in defence and relinquish his role covering from midfield for Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson’s forays forward.
Liverpool have kept 10 clean sheets this season, eight with Alexander-Arnold in the team, compared to 12 last term when he was ever-present. They have already conceded nine more than last season’s 32 goals, even with three games still to play.
Aside from clearances, though, Alexander-Arnold’s individual defensive contribution is mostly improved. His 234 ball recoveries, as recorded on the Premier League website, lead all Liverpool players, while his 44 interceptions and 51 tackles almost match last season’s respective tallies (45 and 55) already and a 63 per cent success rate leaves him one ahead of Fabinho in tackles winning the ball.
The site marks him with just one error leading to a goal, while he has been booked only once, down from five last season and three the year before.
Whereas the regression in some of Alexander-Arnold’s defensive statistics result from comparison to Liverpool’s previous glories as a unit, in attack he is a victim of his own personal success.
His assist for Roberto Firmino on Thursday was his sixth of the season, just one behind the lead among Premier League defenders – held jointly by local rival Lucas Digne of Everton and West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell, whose team-mate Vladimir Coufal is alongside Alexander-Arnold on six.
That is an impressive record until you consider the previous two seasons, when Alexander-Arnold set a new high for defenders with 12 in 2018-19 and then broke his own record with 13 last term.
The Premier League website shows he has created 14 big chances, down slightly from last season’s 18 but already more than his 11 the previous term. He also has only half of last season’s four-goal tally, though again he is merely stepping down somewhat from an elite level – no defender has more than five in any of those three seasons.
He has made 264 crosses, well down on last season’s extraordinary 382 but still more than any other Liverpool player and only one percentage point off last season’s 21 per cent success rate.
While his end product has reverted to more typical levels for a defender, he remains integral to Liverpool’s team play – his 2,200 passes have come at 66.67, up from 64.21 for last season’s 2,440.
He also trails only Robertson among all Premier League players for the most touches of the ball – they and Leeds full-back Luke Ayling are the only players over 3,000 in that category.