I really, really used to hate it when people would ask this.
Why would you change the best right-back on the planet’s position? For what benefit?
The old adage was that it wasn’t broke and it shouldn’t be fixed, but this season, along with many parts of the team, it is broken.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been directly at fault for lots of goals. He’s getting caught woefully out of position and at times, has all but neglected the defensive duties that playing right-back demands.
His fellow defenders have also been off-colour and there’s been very limited protection in midfield from the previously reliable Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, which has added to the problem.
The thing with Trent and the midfield role he could play, surely to the right of the holding player, is that he basically already fills this position on the pitch.
This season especially, but also for lots of last, Trent plays further forward and infield – leaving space for either the right-sided midfielder or Mo Salah to stand on the wing.
In a traditional sense, this is where the right-sided midfielder would position himself in a three, with the fullback overlapping outside and Salah cutting in centrally in his inside forward role.
The issue is that with Trent playing infield, there has been no naturally defensive player turning around and covering him when we’ve lost the ball, which has happened plenty. Via one long pass, opponents have countered us down their left-hand side, filling the space right-backs usually cover with at least two attackers.
Joe Gomez likes defending. He’s very good at it. He also has good recovery pace. If our current situation continues, could we potentially see Gomez as a slightly more defensively-minded right-back, and our best playmaker, Trent, given licence to create without having to worry quite so much about sprinting back?
It sounds a nice idea. There was never a reason for the experiment in the past, but now, there potentially is.
Let’s say there are more glaring errors against Rangers and then Arsenal at the weekend, then it might be time to get Trent out of the right-back position… But he’s so integral to our attack – so let’s put him in the same physical midfield position he’s currently been occupying, with a proper right-back for support.
Who knows, it might solve our defensive and our midfield problems at once!