With Premier League football off the cards for the foreseeable future, we’re looking to keep our readers entertained and return to our ‘Transfer Battles’ feature. In this piece, we’re grading teams on the deals for the players who should have been playing next weekend, pairing them up against a would-be opponent.
The title race may be as good as over, but Liverpool would have still been facing a huge game next time out had the football season not been suspended as they were scheduled to take on Manchester City at the Etihad.
These two sides have clearly been by far and away the top dogs in English football for the last couple of years, with City winning back-to-back Premier League titles (Telegraph) whilst the Reds lifted the Champions League trophy last term (BBC Sport) and look set for a domestic triumph this term.
Naturally, their games against each other often feature plenty of quality given the talented players both have at their disposal. Two of their top performers over the last couple of years have actually been English players, with Raheem Sterling and Trent Alexander-Arnold playing key roles.
But which of them would have had the bigger impact on this game? We have taken a closer look…
There is no doubting that since Pep Guardiola took charge of Manchester City, Sterling has been absolutely excellent. Indeed under the Spaniard’s tutelage the winger has scored 78 goals and provided 62 assists in 183 appearances, only Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Thomas Muller have netted more whilst working with the 49-year-old (Transfermarkt).
He began the current campaign in fine fettle, scoring 11 times in the Premier League in his first 18 appearances and weighing in with two assists. However, since netting a brace against Wolves on 27th December his form has fallen off a cliff and he has failed to bag at all in any of his last six league outings and he hasn’t provided an assist in that time either (Transfermarkt).
On top of this, Sterling also has a woeful record when playing against his former employers. Indeed in 11 games against Liverpool he has managed to score just once (worldfootball.net).
TT Grade: A-
He may be a defender, but Alexander-Arnold’s attacking output this season has been hugely impressive. In 29 Premier League appearances this season he has contributed with a brilliant 12 assists whilst also chipping in with two goals (Transfermarkt), meaning that he actually has more direct goal involvements than Sterling.
Added to that, the right-back is also averaging 2.6 key passes and 2.3 accurate crosses per game whilst he has created 16 big chances in total (SofaScore). Those numbers all trump his England colleague, who averages just 1.5 key passes and 0.3 accurate crosses per game and has created eight big chances, although he does average 1.8 shots per game (SofaScore), which is higher than Alexander-Arnold’s 0.7.
The 21-year-old is Liverpool’s primary set piece taker these days which allows him to create plenty of chances and given City may have been without defensive lynchpin Aymeric Laporte who has had a hamstring injury recently (BBC Sport), you would have fancied his chances of providing at least one assist in this game.
TT Grade: A+
Whilst Sterling is undoubtedly a top quality operator who has flourished under Guardiola, his recent form hasn’t been great. Meanwhile Alexander-Arnold continues to rack up seriously impressive attacking numbers despite being a right-back.
Based on recent form, it seems likely that the Liverpool ace would have outperformed his compatriot in this game from an attacking point of view.
Liverpool fans, could you see Trent Alexander-Arnold playing further forward? Let us know your thoughts below…
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