Liverpool produced another narrow win last night to see off the stern challenge of Genk in the Champions League at Anfield, a result which puts them one win away from ensuring their passage to the knockout rounds.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s opportunism in the six-yard box just before the quarter-hour mark put the home side ahead but, despite recording 12 shots by the time Genk managed their first, the Reds went in level at half-time following Mbwana Samatta’s header from a corner.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain restored Liverpool’s lead early in the second half and the Reds dominated throughout but were unable to add another goal, ensuring a few frayed nerves right up to the final whistle.
Jurgen Klopp rolled the dice with his team selection by making six changes from the win at Aston Villa, with Andrew Robertson, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino among those who dropped to the substitutes’ bench as Sunday’s showdown against Manchester City perhaps played on the manager’s mind.
However, one of his regulars who did start against Genk more than justified his selection, with right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold combining his usual attacking threat with a defensively sound performance.
The 21-year-old made two interceptions and won three of his four tackles last night, the joint-most of any player for both metrics, with a crucial block to thwart Samatta in the first half just before Genk’s equaliser.
The England youngster had far more touches than anyone else with a massive 160, almost 50 more than the next highest total of 113 from Virgil van Dijk, and also completed the most passes of anyone on the night with 108 out of 128. [via WhoScored]
While Wijnaldum and Oxlade-Chamberlain hogged the goal-scoring exploits, Alexander-Arnold’s display drew deserving praise from several reporters afterwards.
The Mirror‘s David Maddock alluded to his “brilliant intervention in first half”, adding that he had a “solid game without real exertion”, while James Capps of ESPN highlighted his “vital interception to deny Samata a certain tap-in” along with his “excellent set-piece deliveries”.
Alexander-Arnold’s defensive abilities were recently called into question by Gary Neville on Sky Sports (via Daily Mail), while Rio Ferdinand has also opined that Joe Gomez is more defensively reliable than the 21-year-old (on BT Sport, via Daily Express).
However, his well-timed blocks and interceptions last night showed that the Liverpool right-back is very capable of mixing attacking forays with defensive solidity.
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