‘Few come close’: Paul Merson says 25-y/o Liverpool player is absolutely unstoppable on the ball

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Much has been made of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defensive limitations, with a vocal number of critics perhaps failing to give credit where credit’s due.

Paul Merson may be counted amongst the opposing camp, highlighting the No.66’s passing capabilities and strength on the ball.

“Credit has to go to Trent Alexander-Arnold. I think he is the best passer in the Premier League,” the former Arsenal star wrote for Sportskeeda in his pre-match preview of the Reds’ clash with Fulham.

“A lot has been said about him but he went and got the equalizer against the best team in the land last weekend.

“He might not be the best in the world at his position because there are players who are better than him defensively. But on the ball, few come close.”

Whilst debate continues to rage over where the Academy graduate is best placed on the pitch (ask Gareth Southgate and Jurgen Klopp and expect different answers), few can argue over the fullback’s offensive prowess.

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Some fine-tuning required but Trent’s still phenomenal

The pundit brought up our right-back’s passing, so let’s see what the stats have to say on the matter.

Trent was on target vs Manchester City at the weekend – (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Alexander-Arnold, rather predictably, stacks up well against the globe’s elite – ranking in the 99th percentile for passes attempted, according to FBref.

The most critical thing to observe, however, is how this contributes to the creative machine. Trent also ranks in the 99th percentile for xAG (expected assisted goals) and shot-creating actions.

How does Trent compare?

To put this into the context of raw numbers, the 25-year-old is registering a comparable number of creative actions per 90 to the league’s top midfield creators.

Bruno Fernandes, for instance, only registers roughly two more shot-creating actions (5.99) per 90 and has a slightly higher xAG rate (0.50) compared to Trent (4.05 and 0.34 respectively).

Kevin De Bruyne has an xAG rate of 0.51 and registers 5.98 shot-creating actions per 90 – (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Against James Maddison, the England international isn’t far off either, coming close to the Tottenham man’s xAG of 0.37.

Martin Odegaard? Almost double the Norwegian’s xAG of 0.19 and comparable to his rate of 4.55 shot-creating actions per 90.

For a defender, those are absolutely ludicrous numbers and are more than worthy of praise.

#Ep96 of The Empire of the Kop Podcast: EOTK Insider with Neil Jones🎙️

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