- Alexander-Arnold is Liverpool’s primary source of creativity, which is rare for a full-back.
- His display against Leicester on Thursday showed how unique he is.
- A move into midfield would not suit a player who is thriving where he is.
It was supposed to be a tricky test for Liverpool. A trip to face second-placed Leicester is not straightforward at the best of times, let alone as the first game back after a mid-season trip to Qatar. Yet, inspired by the sensational Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool made light work of Brendan Rodgers’ side on Thursday. They are now 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
Alexander-Arnold himself described this as Liverpool’s best performance of the season. It is difficult to disagree. The Reds controlled the match from start to finish. They created numerous scoring opportunities and conceded few at the other end. A 4-0 victory did not flatter them in the slightest.
Most impressive of all was Alexander-Arnold’s display. The 21-year-old scored one goal, provided two assists, and delivered the corner from which Liverpool won a penalty. It was a superb showing from a player who is reinventing the right-back role before our very eyes.
The evolution of the right-back role
There was once a time when right-back was the most unfashionable position on the pitch. Jamie Carragher memorably mocked his Sky Sports colleague by declaring that “no one wants to grow up and be a Gary Neville,” but there was logic behind the jibe. In years gone by, right-backs tended to be converted wingers or center-halves – including Neville himself.
That began to change in the 1990s, when full-backs increasingly took on greater attacking responsibilities. Forward-thinking right-backs had existed before then, from Djalma Santos and Carlos Alberto to Wim Suurbier and Manfred Kaltz, but it was the final decade of the last century that brought about widespread change.
Attacking right-backs has become commonplace since then. Cafu’s…