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Trent's form dip is a symptom of much bigger Liverpool problem

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Trent Alexander-Arnold has been under plenty of scrutiny in the past few weeks, and that has only intensified following Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat to Burnley.

His dip in form has coincided with Liverpool’s inability to find the back of the net - Jurgen Klopp’s men are now without a league goal in four straight Premier League matches.

After the Reds defeat to Southampton two weeks ago, the right-back was one of the players spotlighted with a number of contextless statistics circulated after full-time which pointed out how many times the England international lost possession.

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Yet, as highlighted at the time, these didn’t consider crucial facets such as Alexander-Arnold’s role and also the game state.

After going behind early on, there was more of a focus on getting the ball up the pitch and into dangerous areas to try and find an equaliser.

This inevitably led to more high risk/high reward passes which can impact things like passing success rate.

More similar statistics surfaced in the wake of Thursday’s defeat, this time pointing out how the Liverpool right-back had been successful in just one of his 21 attempted crosses.

Alexander-Arnold's crossing map vs Burnley

Strikingly, when you look at his ‘cross map’ from that match, you see that the one 'successful' delivery was a short pass to his left which was into the feet of Xherdan Shaqiri.

For this action to be labelled as a successful cross was rather generous.

Alexander-Arnold is awarded a successful pass by data providers Wyscout for a simple pass

Success rates in terms of crosses, like possession lost, is again another metric that doesn’t quite tell an accurate story without context.

For example, a cross swung into a dangerous area that just skims past the foot of a forward who is slow in attacking the ball is registered as an unsuccessful cross for the distributor.

But is it fair to penalise him for the forward’s slow reactions?

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Additionally, plenty of Liverpool’s crossing focuses on primed target areas as opposed to the location of specific players at the time of the cross.

This can again impact crossing statistics.

An example is below. Alexander-Arnold disguises a nice cut back into a prime location in and around the penalty spot.

However, no Liverpool player attacks this area allowing the ball to be cleared by a Burnley defender.

Alexander-Arnold cuts the ball back into a good location but no Liverpool player is there to attack it

Despite these reasonable caveats, we could see in the game that 22-year-old was performing at a level far from his best.

Actions were slow and laboured whilst creativity and bravery were minimal.

Take the below as an example, Alexander-Arnold picks the ball up out on the right side and Dwight McNeil looks to close him down.

Alexander-Arnold picks the ball up out wide

The Liverpool man dwells on the ball for three seconds, taking any momentum out of the attack.

He then attempts a purposeless cross towards the penalty area that hits McNeil who is stood only a matter of yards away.

The ball then ricochets away towards another Burnley player and the attack breaks down.

Alexander-Arnold hits the ball at the Burnley man and the attack breaks down

It isn’t just Alexander-Arnold performing so uninspiringly, with most of the team’s attackers proving to be slow and unimaginative inside the final third in recent weeks.

They’ve very often looked void of ideas and strategies on how to break through a deep-lying defensive line.

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This has resulted in sluggish moves and overplaying in possession, a point captured by the fact that Liverpool’s average number of passes completed within 20 yards of the opposition’s goal has risen from a season average of 11.2 per game to 17.2 across their previous five matches.

Alexander-Arnold’s problems, therefore, stem partly as a consequence of wider issues related to the team.

And not just due to poor individual performances alone.

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