Jurgen Klopp was worried about how Liverpool would replicate Trent Alexander-Arnold’s passing game against Wolves, but the second half showed he had nothing to worry about.
In Liverpool’s final match before the international break against Aston Villa, Trent Alexander-Arnold had to leave the field with a thigh injury.
Alexander-Arnoldwas forced to withdraw from the England squad over the issue and was only able to undertake limited activities at the AXA training center before the Premier League resumed.
He watched from home as the Reds won 3-1 at Molineux and secured a fourth consecutive victory thanks to goals from Cody Gakpo and Andy Robertson and an own goal from Hugo Bueno.
In his pre-match press conference (via LFC), Klopp said he was confident his team could play the same without Alexander-Arnold, but admitted his passing skills would be insufficient.
“We have to be flexible there, even with Trent.
If you look at the game against Villa in detail you will see that he wasn’t stuck in the midfield role; within a role there we have to be flexible and that’s exactly how we do it.” it’ll be fine.’” he said.
“But if you know another passer like Trent, tell me who can play this position, that would be really good. It has to work well; it’ll be good.
‘Flexibility’was present in the Midlands as replacement right-back Joe Gomez occasionally moved into midfield – an experiment which didn’t necessarily work as Liverpool struggled to build attacks – but Klopp erred when he was unable to replicate Alexander -Arnold’s performance. distribution.
At half-time, with Liverpool 1-0 down and in difficulty, Klopp removed Alexis Mac Allister and replaced him with Luis Díaz, inserting Dominik Szoboszlai in defensive midfield alongside Curtis Jones.
From number six on the right wing (where Alexander-Arnold often finds himself when Liverpool have the ball), Szoboszlai has become the team’s de facto quarterback.
The Hungarian had struggled a little before the break, plagued by some uncharacteristic moments of carelessness, but improved significantly in the second 45 minutes to lift his team.
“He didn’t play well in the first half,” Klopp said (via LFC).
“He WAS there, he was dropping balls and stuff where you were like, ‘Oh God.’ We lost so many balls.
“But he stays in the game, that’s probably his biggest strength.
So it’s not a great game, but he stays in the game.
In the second half we played against Curtis and Dom with a double-6, which is a double-very offensive. he’s six years old, but they did it very well, they both did it very intelligently.
And so he made a very good game out of it.
Trent Alexander-Arnold missed Liverpool’s trip to Wolves
It was by no means his strongest position, but he adapted to it skillfully and had a “massive influence”, as Klopp put it.
Szoboszlai collected the ball in and around the center circle and fed it to the wingers, who were able to run towards their full-backs and force Wolves deeper and deeper or play penetrating diagonal passes into the corner of the penalty area .
At one point he let the ball run towards Robertson, who sent it back across the goal, so that Luis Díaz headed the ball just wide.
Of all the out field players involved in the match, none played more precise long passes than the Hungarian (four).
Most impressively, Szoboszlai completed 20 passes in the final third, eight more than anyone else in the match, and while this is to be expected given his position and Liverpool’s second-half dominance against a block low, this still highlights his effectiveness as a deep-lying playmaker.
He did what you would normally expect Alexander-Arnold to do.
The vice-captain runs around the training pitch and the hope is that he will be able to play the ball again early next week, but the visit of West Ham could still come too soon.
Given that Mac Allister has struggled, albeit partly due to tiredness, and Klopp is clearly reluctant to start Wataru Endō at this early stage – he has started the last two games on the bench and did not feature against Wolves – c ‘is a reason as a starter Szoboszlai will play in the same position again next weekend, if necessary.
This is not necessarily what Liverpool fans expected from the $77 million summer signing, but his manager Marco Rossi thinks he can do it, even comparing him to Italian legend Andrea Pirlo, the “playmaker” par excellence.
“I know he said he doesn’t like playing in this position,” Marco Rossi told Liverpool.com.
But I really think he could be a fantastic number six in the future.
He has all the qualities to be in this position, as Pirlo was, just to give an example.
I think Pirlo was the best in the championship in this position. Over the last fifteen years, Dominik has demonstrated that he has excellent capabilities to fulfill this role.
“On top of all his other qualities, Szoboszlai’s versatility promises to be a major asset for Liverpool this season.
Klopp has found his new Swiss Army knife.