Trent Alexander-Arnold gave an honest assessment of his development in a post-match interview with Sky Sports after Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Leicester.
The right-back was named player of the match by Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher, after a display which had seen him win a series of one-on-one battles with Foxes winger Harvey Barnes.
Alexander-Arnold had also provided the low cross for the first of Wout Faes’ two own goals but while he is renowned for his attacking threat, it was his defensive work that won him plaudits at Anfield on Friday.
The performances of Alexander-Arnold were a major talking point ahead of the World Cup, with his role in the England squad hotly debated. He admitted he had been aware of that focus but says he is working hard to improve his game.
“Part of me thinks there’s been a lot of spotlight on [his defending],” said Alexander-Arnold. “I think that was due to the World Cup coming up and people think that if I’m not playing then it is because of that reason and then people hone in on that.
“Some of it I’ve not helped myself in certain situations. I’ll hold my hands up to that.
“In certain situations I could have been better but it is a part of my game I do try to work on and I focus on to try and help the team win games.
“The clean sheet is the most important thing.”
Discussing the individual defensive training he does, Alexander-Arnold said: “Defensive situations are both team and individual one vs ones. Mostly, I think it is individual, seeing what you’ve done right and what you’ve done wrong.
“Also, seeing your footwork, your patterns, if you are crossing your feet over, why someone has beat you and got you off balance.
“Just sometimes you are up against a world-class winger, and he is going to get the better of you, but sometimes there have been times where I could have done better.”
Carra: Trent’s a special talent but can still improve
Carragher was full of praise for Alexander-Arnold’s performance against Leicester – but says at 24-years-old, this “unique” talent can get even better.
“His actual defending impressed me because when you normally give Alexander-Arnold player of the match as we have done on numerous occasions, it is because of his crossing going forward,” said the pundit.
“However, I thought he made some vital challenges at the back and his cross, even though it is nowhere near his best cross, it helps get Liverpool an equaliser.
“We speak about him going forward a lot but what really impressed me was what he did defensively, especially in the second half.
“What he did really well was hold Harvey Barnes up, not dive in and wait for the attacker to make the first move. He was low, aggressive and always ready to change direction.
“Trent mentioned something about his feet crossing over and that happens when you are too upright. You cannot change direction and that’s quite simple really in regard to the body positions you have to have.
“What you have to remember with Alexander-Arnold is he is unique. He was never a full-back as a kid, and he’s ended up going there because of his footballing ability.
“He was a midfield player and a special midfield player coming through. But we know now that the full-back position has evolved and you still have to be able to defend, but he is a playmaker from full-back.
“He is never going to change that. He’s never going to be the best defender in the world but he can improve and get better. That’s what he did against Leicester.
“Also, we shouldn’t forget how young he is and what he has already achieved in the game. If he doesn’t go on to do anything else in the game, which he will, he has still won everything you can win at club level.
“There is still so much there that he can improve on but he is a special, special talent.”