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Alexander-Arnold masterclass shows hybrid players hold key to success | Will Unwin

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Alexander-Arnold masterclass shows hybrid players hold key to success

The role of multi-position players is evolving rapidly as Premier League managers strive for innovative ways to gain an edge

Multi-position players have come a long way since Paul Warhurst was happy to fill in wherever required or Dion Dublin gave centre-back a go in the latter stages of his career.

The modern game possesses a new breed who can adapt within a game, moving roles in tune with their intuition and where they think they can make the biggest impact.

On Sunday Trent Alexander-Arnold was placed at right-back on the pre-match graphic against Fulham, although that did not represent his afternoon’s work.

As an inverted full-back he would appear in central midfield, looking to provide an overload, or he slotted between the centre-backs with the aim of getting on the ball and using his passing range to change the dynamic of an attack.

‘A game you’d never forget in your life’: Jürgen Klopp lauds Liverpool victoryRead more

The purpose of Alexander-Arnold and his peers is to bring controlled chaos for teams that like to dominate possession.

Alexander-Arnold sums up his role as thus: “I think the way I see it and the way I am told and explained to play it [at Liverpool], it is almost when we have the ball I am a midfielder and when we don’t have the ball I am a right-back.” Having a fourth player in central areas, like Liverpool had against Fulham, can help counteract any potential man-marking system an opponent is utilising in an attempt to foil attacks because they will feel the need to press the man in possession, freeing up another.

Claiming a team is playing a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 is alarmingly simplistic for viewers of elite football.

What John Stones does for Manchester City is very different to what Alexander-Arnold does for Liverpool and they could not be transposed.

When Stones was injured in November, Pep Guardiola announced “we are in trouble” because he knew how important the defender-cum-midfielder is for City.

They will influence their successors who will look at football from a different perspective and come up with other ideas to complement the current climate of tactical discourse that is moving the game forward.

As Alexander-Arnold, Stones and others prove it is a concept that is reaping rewards for their coaches.
For more news relating to Manchester City, visit our sister site City Latest Live.

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