Don’t worry, this is not one of those reports that end with an interrogative phrase that puts you further confused; Arnold is already one of the premier league’s worst appearances right now, and we’re going to tell you why he really became so, or rather, Mr. Michael Cox, author of “Zonal Marking” and “The Mixer” will tell you. What shall we do? We’ll tell you why Arnold wasn’t that great in the first place. (1) (2)
Arnold’s first problem is capitalism. A regular football follower does not want to know the playing styles of Liverpool, the defensive situations that they are exposed to, or the dynamics of the team during transformations, and he believes deeply that football is a simple game, and that all the tactical issues that many strive to understand are nothing but attempts to simulate and pretend. Therefore, the only solution to all of the above is for the media to fulfill the desires of the follower if they want to continue watching.
Here it becomes necessary to summarize Arnold or others to a single number that can be easily remembered, a number that simplifies things, and can be used to form an absolute point of view that does not need review, and then can be used in social media battles after each match, a number that gives him the “summary” without effort It results in only two possibilities: Arnold is gorgeous – Arnold is hideous.
This is what has reduced Arnold’s career since he was promoted to the first team in the number of decisive passes he gives to his teammates, and the more he makes progress in this regard, the greater his value in the eyes of the masses, opponents and the media, and thus a global consensus arose that Arnold is one of the best, if not the best, of the world. Really. (3) (4)
Alexander-Arnold has made significantly fewer key passes but is passing into the box far more often, presumably to no-one.
We compared the team and the players this season with last using 14 attacking stats.https://t.co/g9llgpE4Cx
— Football365 (@F365) January 24, 2021
This frantic desire to simplify and flatten out is what creates false impressions among the masses in the first place, it is what makes us ignore the rest of the indicators, no matter how clear, indications that confirm that Arnold’s participation in the basic formation of Liverpool was tactically costly, and that obtaining his excellent performances required that the rest bear the burden. Additional burdens to compensate for his critical deficiencies in the fundamentals of his position.
Leave the current season and go back to the last season, which witnessed the young English achieving a goal-making record that no defender had previously reached in the history of the Premier League. Undoubtedly, this is a great achievement, but the credit for it to Arnold is far from the truth, simply because one number does not tell you the full story.
Among the 66 players who occupied the right-back position in the Premier League last season, Arnold was in the last 7 names on the list regarding the level of successful interventions in one match. Of course, it is understandable that none of Liverpool’s defenders will have the opportunity to accumulate great defensive numbers as long as the team spends most of its time keeping the ball, but Arnold’s numbers in this regard were much lower than expected even with the previous fact in mind. (5)
In the same list, Arnold is in the list of the 10 most popular appearances during the ninety minutes, he is the most prolific player in Liverpool overall throughout the season, and one of the lowest five players in the Premier League in general in the rate of successful dribbling in the match, so much so that Joe Gomez, who is next to him, has completed three Times the quirks compared to Arnold! (6) (7)
The takeaway that the number of critical passes alone doesn’t tell you; Arnold is a player who is not good at one-on-one confrontations, and he needs permanent protection in the back and front, protection that is often placed on the shoulders of his teammates in defense, middle and attack if Klopp wants to use him to supply his attackers with perfect crosses, and here comes the role of Henderson.
Unlike Robertson, who does not get the same amount of lights compared to his English colleague for some reason, Henderson’s role to the right of the three-midfield was pivotal in his brilliance, as if he was his bodyguard, so whenever Arnold advanced, Henderson positioned behind him to accelerate the pressure as soon as he lost the ball, or to run sprints with Wings that take advantage of the spaces behind him, or sometimes to advance in his place when opponents close the line and half-spaces in the face of his colleague.
One of the famous methods that Klopp uses to spare Arnold difficult situations is what is known as “Relieving The Full-Back” or literal translation, which happens when Liverpool begins his attack, so Arnold goes up a few meters forward to receive the ball from Gomez or Fabinho, and is subjected to close supervision by The opponent’s wing prevents him from receiving the ball, then Henderson, or Vinaldum at times, lands in Arnold’s original position as a full-back, and Henderson’s sergeant becomes in front of two choices, both of which are difficult, either to follow him to a third of Liverpool defensively and leave a huge gap in the depth that Firmino can exploit by landing and receiving direct vertical passes Or, he maintains his position, leaving Henderson to receive the comfort that enables him to easily turn and direct the next game.
Now, with Henderson at the center of defense, Liverpool no longer needs this trick, but the presence of the captain in the first third attracts opponents’ pressure to him and allows Klopp to create dangerous positions from longitudinal balls behind the first and second pressure line, which Klopp himself confirmed in statements. After the United League match, he stressed the flexibility that Fabinho and Henderson’s double gave him in the center of defense, and the duo’s ability to break United’s pressure many times, forcing them to rebound instead of disturbing the Reds in their areas. (8)
This is all wonderful and beautiful, but it turns Arnold into a neglected value on the side, on the one hand, he does not have the abilities of Robertson to hold the ball under pressure and rotate with his kneecap or dodge him and then launch on the line, and on the other hand, Henderson’s landing to the heart of the defense did not release him from pressure, but rather facilitated The operation was against the opponents of the Reds, and allowed them to close a complete front at its source. This gave Arnold his first negative record in his short career when he lost the ball 38 times during the defeat at Southampton, by counting the number of times the ball was drawn from him or his wrong passes that gave possession of the Saints. (9)
I was just about to ask about Alexander-Arnold’s stats & Martin Tyler provides them – he gave ball away more times than anyone in Premier League game this season.
— richard foster (@rcfoster) January 4, 2021
Another method used by Klopp to prevent Arnold from the evil of the double is for Salah to get out completely to force the defense of the opponent to extend the width of the field, then return the ball to Arnold in a late position that enables him to send what is known as “Early Cross” or early crosses in the literal sense. This tactical form forces the opponent’s axes to drop to the heart and half-spaces to close the gaps that have arisen from Salah’s move, and then Arnold rarely finds little oversight when he sends his crosses.
In this position, Henderson always covers his back as an additional player, and as soon as he returns to the center of the defense, Chamberlain and Milner fail to play the same role with the same efficiency, and to make matters worse, Gomez is no longer present as well, and he is the man who was able to resolve many of the duos. On the line at its speed. (10)
All of the above revealed Arnold’s flaws and removed the guard provided by the center back and the midfield player who was next to him all the time, and suddenly Klopp’s jewel, which provided him with crucial passes, became naked, vulnerable to scratches and breakage.
It is precisely for this reason that many analysts explain the current problems of Liverpool in the absence of Van Dyck, simply because Liverpool did not lose a single player who is their best defender, but rather that the absence of the substitute forced Klopp a large transfer process that blew up the team’s usual dynamics, and Arnold did not lose the confidence that Gomez and Van Dyck gave him whenever He not only advanced, but lost support in the offensive third as well, and the coverage that Henderson provided him from his position in the middle. “Chain reaction,” or chain reaction, as Carragher called it. (11)
When you take all of the above into account, you come to two important conclusions. The first is that despite Arnold’s accurate right foot and his charming crosses, the credit for his transformation into one of the best appearances in the world in the eyes of the fans is the tactical platform that Klopp provided him to send these crosses in the first place, and by extension, you reach the second conclusion; Arnold’s retreat this season is a foregone conclusion, especially after 3 seasons with almost no alternative, but the most important reason is not Arnold himself, but injuries that forced Klopp to burn the ground beneath him.
In fact, all of the above was evident against United in the Federation Cup; Initially, Klopp was unable to release both his backs to the extremities because the three-midfield team who participated did not have the same ability to cover the absence of Henderson and Fabinho and deport them to the center of the defense, so Solskjaer had to pay all his striking power on the side that Klopp would decide to use.
This scene was repeated several times during the first and the beginning of the second half; At first, Klopp decided to release Robertson and keep Arnold behind after all 18 crosses had failed during the Burnley defeat, and during this period Greenwood had 3 chances in the space left by the Scotsman whenever he went up, and one of them scored the Devils’ first goal, and when Klopp decided to keep Robertson The release of Arnold, the same thing happened with Rashford and he scored the second goal of United, and Klopp was able to stop the danger of United’s rebounds only when he decided to delay Arnold and Robertson a few meters and give freedom to the players of the center to advance in the area instead of obliging them to cover the tasks that they failed during the first 70 minutes, then Only Milner had the most dangerous opportunity for Liverpool ever, and then Salah’s second goal followed, in a systematic penetration process to the depth without relying on the backs.
Cox laid out four main reasons for Arnold’s decline this season, (12) reasons we think all of the above was necessary to understand. The first was the small number of long, diagonal balls that Van Dyck would normally send to the extremities. After defeating Arsenal this season, Arteta spoke about this particular point, referring to the Dutch’s ability to break pressure with his long diagonal passes towards Mane or Salah on the sides, and in many cases, the one receiving those balls was Arnold, and in front of him was space to send His crosses without harassment from the side of the attacking trio inside the region.
The second and third reasons, of course, relate to the absence of support from the midfield and defense, as mentioned above, and the fact that the right-sided midfielder and the right-center defender are still trying to cope with the requirements of the position, not to mention Arnold’s help whenever he goes up or faces a quick, elusive opponent in an opposite counter, such as Martial or Rashford.
The fourth reason is something that not many people pay attention to. The fact that the absence of central defenders at Liverpool had deprived Arnold of the few assists he had used in previous seasons, which usually went to the head of Van Dyck or Matip.
In the past two seasons, during which Arnold has achieved records for decisive passes, Manet was the most Liverpool player to score goals from his crosses with 6 goals, but second place was not occupied by Salah or Firmino, but Van Dyck, who scored 5 goals, and if you add two goals made by the English Young Joel Matip, the absentee, in turn, discovers that the duo gave Arnold nearly 30% of his assists over the past two seasons.
A percentage that is not to be underestimated, but it also sheds light on the reality of the situation in Liverpool, and completely contrary to what is expected, it does not reduce Klopp’s balance at all, but gives him an additional credit for what he has accomplished during the past two seasons with a bench that does not rise to those of any of the big six in The Premier League also explains the stress that most of the team is currently suffering from, and its inability to continue at the same pace for the sixth season in a row, but this is another story for another report.
- Zonal Marking Book – Amazon
- The Mixer book – Amazon
- Dominic Matteo: “Arnold is still one of the best years back in the world but he needs to learn how to defend” – Goal
- Jason McCater: “Arnold is still the best English full-back, but he’s looking expendable” – Goal
- Statistics of Premier League defending appearances last season – Whoscored
- STATISTICS LIVERPOOL FOR THE LAST SEASON – FBREF
- Statistics of Premier League appearances last season – Whoscored
- Klopp’s comments following the league draw with United – This is Anfield
- Arnold’s nightmare against Southampton and the stats proving his decline this season – Daily Mail
- Why is Alexander Arnold suffering this season? Daily Mail
- Jamie Carragher asks Arnold to call Gerrard to find out how to overcome his decline – Daily Mail
- Why is Arnold suffering this season; Fewer diagonals, weaker coverage, and poor crosses – The Athletic