Trent Alexander-Arnold was told in no uncertain terms that he simply wasn’t good enough.
Just moments of the game at Selhurst Park on Saturday, Liverpool The right-back ventured into the front round only to be sent off near the edge of the Crystal Palace penalty area.
Instead of running straight to position, Alexander Arnold Lunge into a short jog before quickly picking up speed after being on the receiving end at the steely steering of the commander Jordan Henderson.
It was a tough first half for the defender, who was shown consistently during a 20-minute period of Ballas pressure, at the pace of both Wilfried Zaha and Iberiche Easy.
Hardly the perfect start to his historic 150th appearance with Liverpool.
But he continued the trend in recent weeks – certainly away from home – as Alexander-Arnold struggled badly at Fulham last weekend and was substituted midway through the second half.
These weren’t the easiest campaigns for the 22-year-old, despite his pride in being the captain of the last UEFA Champions League tournament at FC Midtgeland.
He’s been absent for much of the pre-season period, and after he rediscovered a form, he developed a calf problem that sidelined him for most of November.
Internationally, he is still far from certain at first under England coach Gareth Southgate, who is now leaning towards Reese James and Kieran Trippier.
But more analysis of Alexander-Arnold’s performance in Pallas paints a different picture.
Even before Henderson attacked, the defender had played the pass into the area for Sadio Mane to set Takumi Minamino’s first goal.
It was Alexander Arnold who let the ball knocked out right back for Roberto Firmino to continue the devastating counterattack for the third goal, and helped defender Henderson score the fourth goal.
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His smart passing on the right side fired Mohamed Salah to put Firmino for the fifth goal, before a corner kick from the right side headed Joel Matip to score Salah.
Henderson was the only one to touch the ball so often, while Andy Robertson was the only Liverpool player with more key passes.
Yes, Alexander-Arnold was not at his best in the term, particularly on defense. Given the ups and downs in Liverpool’s defense, and the absence disrupting its rhythm, this is perhaps understandable.
However, there is a reason why he remains such an important part of Juergen Klopp’s squad, a key character in the offensive play of a team that is starting to show its teeth again. Selhurst Park has testified to this.
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