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Neville breaks down Liverpool fullback Alexander-Arnold: Every word on basics, positioning, improvement

Former Manchester United and England right-back Gary Neville has broken down the problems Trent Alexander-Arnold is experiencing and how the Liverpool defender can improve.

After the young defender's mistakes in Saturday's 3-3 draw against Brighton, Neville assigned a large portion of their Monday Night Football coverage to explain how the Reds star can fix his defensive problems to become an all-time great full-back.

Here's every word Neville said on Alexander-Arnold, his issues and how he can turn it around.


On Alexander-Arnold's assist stats and the four basics of defending...

“If you look at Trent's stats in the last four seasons since 2018 [44 assists, 315 chances created] - that is absolutely obscene. Just to put that into perspective, I played 400 games in the Premier League and had 35 assists, he's got 44 in his last four seasons at the age of 23. It is absolutely ridiculous. I cannot believe those numbers.

“So what we've got here is one of the great talents that this country has produced in his position, but a couple seasons ago I did say I thought there would come a point where...I used the phrase 'not to be serious about his defending'...that there would come a point whereby it would hurt him a little bit and he would get some pain.

“If Liverpool weren't as good, if Jurgen Klopp left Liverpool and they tried to play a different style, a bit more defensive. With England, if there are other players in his position and they don't have as much possession and they're playing against excellent teams in knockout competitions.

“And in this last seven or eight games, just look at that area [inside the box on Liverpool's right] where Liverpool are conceding their goals: they're in Trent's area and they're where he's sat.

“I wanted to do this piece for a long time, not from a point of criticism in any way shape or form, but Trent is not a young player anymore. He's young in his age, but he's actually got 250 matches for Liverpool and England, that's a mountain of games to have. So what surprises me still when I watch him, is three or four of the very basic things of full-back play.

“There are lots of things: communicating, determination, aggression, winning the ball back, sensing danger - there are all those things but there are four very basic things that I was taught. These things can be taught in training and they can be coached every day because I know I was a very poor full-back at the age of 20. I'd been a centre-back, I didn't know how to defend 1v1, I didn't know how to hold my position on that side, I didn't know where my distances should be, I certainly didn't know where my body shape should be and I had to learn all those things over a two-or-three-year period.

“In transition, you have to go forward now as a full-back, you have to then sprint back. We just saw a clip that Carra showed against Newcastle he doesn't always sprint back, in fact he ambles back at times.

“In 1v1 defending, keep your body position low and crouched, body shape should be opened when the ball is on the opposite side of the pitch - these are areas where you will concede goals as a full-back - and then when you're in the box you have to scan, you have to rotate your head."


On Trent's demeanour and positioning...

“You cannot be upright. I went, when I was younger, to do some movement coaching under a coach called Bryan Robson, and he took me up to Newcastle for two summers and worked with me every single day. Every single day he had me there [low down], and he used to say it was like a tiger ready to pounce. You have to be low and you have to keep your feet close to the ground.

“Trent finds himself in a very upright position, a very relaxed, upright position. The problem with that is you can't sprint from that position, you can't change direction, you can't swivel your head from that position. Your head is the heaviest part of your body, your studs have to be close to the ground so you can set off and you have to be ready.

“You very rarely see Trent in that position where he looks alert. He always jogs out in an upright position.

“No defender really slips unluckily in my opinion. You slip because you've not been in the right position, you've panicked and you've not been alert enough to start with. I think these are really basic things for him. The hard part of the game he's doing."


On an important juncture and how Trent can become the best...

“No full-back that I've ever seen in this country can do what he can do so if he can just work on those four basic things and get those consistency elements with those things, we won't just have one of the best attacking right-backs this country has ever produced, we'll have probably the best right-back the world has ever produced, because this is a Cafu. This is that level of full-back. This is something unbelievably special.

“This is an important juncture in his career where you say 'right, what does he do?' Does he think 'I don't have to do that, I don't want to do that'. I would urge him to just work for two, three, four months.

“Have these players got time to be coached? They've got games all the time, when do you put the work in to do this? There might be a negative in him not going to the World Cup - that might be the biggest positive in his career if he can have five or six weeks here, just being coached and working on these things. He's someone that I think is absolutely unbelievable but he's at a really important moment in his career."



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Paul Vegas

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