EPL

Alexander-Arnold: Liverpool can have no excuses for failing to do the basics

By Sports Desk February 07, 2021

Trent Alexander-Arnold says Liverpool can have no excuses for their poor Premier League form as they have failed to do the basics this season.

The reigning champions are fourth in the table and seven points adrift of leaders Manchester City, who travel to Anfield on Sunday and also have a game in hand.

Liverpool have already lost four league games this term, which is one more than in the whole of their title-winning campaign of 2019-20.

That includes back-to-back losses at Anfield in the top flight for the first time since September 2012, having previously been unbeaten in 68 matches on home soil.

After storming to the title last term by an 18-point margin, a year on from going all the way in the Champions League, Alexander-Arnold accepts his side took winning matches for granted.

"Once you get accustomed to winning all the time, which we have been doing in the previous two seasons, you do get used to the feeling and you start to kind of expect it," he told Sky Sports.

"That's probably the trap we fell into this season in that we expected to win games because we're good enough, something will happen and we have that quality to find a goal from somewhere, which happened naturally last season and the season before.

"But really breaking it down, that didn't just happen because we were lucky, it happened because we worked hard, doing the basics and fundamentals right until the very last minute. 

"That really worked in our favour. The fact we were still doing it meant we were creating the right opportunities that we could score from.

"I think maybe this season we've forgotten a few of those fundamentals and we've just expected us to do that because it became so natural for us to do it.

"Every team goes through periods like this. You can't expect anyone to keep winning every single game, especially in a league like the Premier League. 

"It would be wrong of us to expect that from ourselves and for people to expect it of us. We want to, but I think in the back of our minds, we all knew this period would come at some point."

Liverpool have not been helped by long-term injuries sustained by Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez earlier in the campaign, with fellow centre-back Joel Matip now also out for the season.

Jurgen Klopp's men have kept just six clean sheets in 22 league games this term - only seven teams have a worse return - conceding in each of their last four outings.

But Alexander-Arnold, who has come in for criticism this term, insists injuries alone are not to blame for the Reds' drop-off in form.

"We're a team that's not going to sit here and make excuses," he said. "There are no excuses on our behalf because we've lost a few centre-backs and we haven't got fans - that's the same for everyone. 

"We've had a few injuries but that's football, you can't blame anyone for that. It's about us being able to adjust and adapt to the situation. We haven't done that as well as we would have liked to.

"With people talking about our centre-halves, it's not like we're conceding three or four goals a game. It's more about one goal, not keeping a clean sheet and not scoring at the other end.

"It's just about clicking as a full team and getting that rhythm back. I personally feel in the last few games, we have been doing that, bar the Brighton game… It's not as if our performances have been down in the gutter."

Liverpool have also struggled in an attacking sense, failing to score in any of their last three home league matches for the first time since October 1984, a run that amounts to 348 minutes ahead of City's visit.

Pep Guardiola's side have conceded just 13 Premier League goals this term, the best defensive record in the division, but Klopp is confident his attacking talents will soon click into gear.

"The creating of the moment [to score] is not really different and that means we come into similar positions but we don't score," he said. "Can we be more often in these areas? 100 per cent.

"We don't think and don't feel we do everything and destiny is against us, it's just the situation we are in. There's no dreaming or wishing, it's all about working and that's what we do.

"Am I concerned? In a normal way, yes of course, because these are the things we have to do in training. We work on things to bring the boys as close as possible to the point where they have to take the final kick. 

"That's what we've always tried and we'll carry on with that. That we change our approach in moments because of the opponent is clear as well. In the end, we have to make the right decisions."

Liverpool have lost just one of their last 29 home league matches against City - a 2-1 defeat in May 2003.

Related items

  • Australian Open: Barty dominates Pegula to book semi-final berth Australian Open: Barty dominates Pegula to book semi-final berth

    Ash Barty was in clinical form to swat aside Jessica Pegula 6-2 6-0 in just 63 minutes and book her spot in the Australian Open semi-finals.

    The world number one is still to drop a set at her home slam in Melbourne and made easy work of her opponent as Barty continued her bid to become the first female Australian singles champion since Chris O'Neil in 1978.

    Barty won nine games in a row from 3-2 up in the first set to take complete command and she can now prepare for a semi-final showdown with another American in the form of Madison Keys.

    A nervy-looking Pegula was rushing her shots in the early exchanges and Barty broke in the first game when a forehand cross set up a break point chance that her opponent put into the net.

    Barty had chalked up 12 unforced errors by game four, but it was her aggressive tactics that had Pegula completely on the ropes and when a thumping forehand set up another break point in game seven, it was little surprise when it was converted.

    By this point Barty was in complete command and Pegula had no answer to the variety of shots her opponent rained down on her.

    The second set raced by in just 28 minutes, with Barty putting the finishing touch on a mightily impressive performance when Pegula put a return long on the second match point.

    "Jess is an incredible person and a brilliant girl. I love to test myself against her. She's had sensational couple of years, she's definitely a top-20 player, there's plenty more to come for sure," Barty said after the match.

    On reaching the semis in Melbourne for the second time after doing so in 2020, she added: "I've grown as a person, as a player, I'm a more complete tennis player.

    "Credit to my team, they do so much work behind the scenes to make me the best version of myself, I love playing out here. Hopefully I've got a little bit more left."

    DATA SLAM: Barty serves up a treat again

    Barty defeated both Pegula and Keys en route to winning her maiden slam title at the 2019 French Open and history could be repeating itself here with the world number one playing arguably the best tennis of her career.

    Behind her dominance is phenomenal success on serve. Barty is still yet to drop a set in Melbourne, and went 63 games without being broken before Amanda Anisimova did so in the previous round. Here, she lost just five points on first serve (22 of 27, 81 per cent) and gave up just a solitary break-point opportunity in the match.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

    Barty – 17/22
    Pegula – 7/26

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

    Barty – 6/2
    Pegula – 1/3

    BREAK POINTS WON

    Barty – 5/9
    Pegula – 0/1

  • Australian Open: Nadal survives Shapovalov scare in epic quarter-final Australian Open: Nadal survives Shapovalov scare in epic quarter-final

    Rafael Nadal survived a huge scare to reach the Australian Open semi-finals with an enthralling five-set win over Denis Shapovalov on Tuesday.

    Nadal is two wins away from a record-breaking 21st grand slam title after enduring a four-hour epic to beat Shapovalov 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.

    A year after losing from two-sets-to-love up at the same stage to Stefanos Tsitsipas, there was almost a repeat for Nadal.

    But, seemingly battling a stomach issue, the Spaniard remained alive in his bid to set the outright record for most grand slams won by a man, following a thrilling battle that lasted four hours, eight minutes.

    The success saw Nadal – who will face either Matteo Berrettini or Gael Monfils in the last four – reach his 36th career grand slam semi-final and seventh at Melbourne Park, where he claimed the title in 2009.

    Nadal landed the first blow with a break to love in the fourth game.

    A superb forehand winner down the line got Nadal going before three wild forehands in a row from Shapovalov saw him fall 3-1 behind.

    Shapovalov was unable to make any inroads against the Nadal serve, winning just five return points in a 39-minute opening set.

    The Canadian was angry with chair umpire Carlos Bernardes' decision not to give Nadal a time violation between sets and the players unusually met at the net before the second game of the second set.

    Nadal needed a tough hold during a 12-point sixth game and he capitalised in the next, an overhead securing the break after Shapovalov had sent a forehand well long at 30-30 to end a point he had been in complete control of.

    Nadal closed out the set, but found trouble in the sixth game of the third as he faced break points for the first time after a double fault.

    After saving both and holding serve, Nadal was broken at the key time – when serving to stay in the set – as Shapovalov delivered a backhand cross-court winner to extend the contest.

    The momentum had well and truly swung and a double fault from Nadal saw Shapovalov break for 3-1 in the fourth set.

    Approaching the three-hour mark, Nadal required a medical timeout, seemingly suggesting an issue with his stomach.

    Shapovalov found himself in some trouble trying to level the match, but recovered from 15-40 to force a fifth set.

    Nadal – who had been beaten from two-sets-to-love up just twice previously in his grand slam career – had to save a break point in the opening game of the decider, a volley winner to hold drawing huge cheers from the Rod Laver Arena crowd.

    Instead, Shapovalov played a loose game, two wayward forehands, a double fault and a framed backhand giving Nadal a break and 2-0 lead.

    Nadal, looking far more energetic, saved two break points in the third game before becoming more comfortable on serve on his way to the last four, Shapovalov smashing his racquet after match point.

     

    DATA SLAM: Nadal overcomes major Melbourne hurdle … just

    Nadal improved his record in grand slam quarter-finals to 36-9, but the last eight has often been a problem in Melbourne during his incredible career.

    He is now 7-7 in Australian Open quarter-finals after surviving the Shapovalov battle, far worse than his record at the French Open (14-1), Wimbledon (7-0) and US Open (8-1).

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Nadal – 41/28
    Shapovalov – 53/51

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Nadal – 8/11
    Shapovalov – 20/5

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Nadal – 3/7
    Shapovalov – 2/8

  • Rumour Has It: Martial loan agreement reached between Sevilla and Man Utd Rumour Has It: Martial loan agreement reached between Sevilla and Man Utd

    Anthony Martial has made no secret of his desire to leave Manchester United in the January window – and the France international appears to have been granted his wish.

    Restricted to just four starts in all competitions this season, Martial has very much been on the periphery at United in what is his seventh campaign at the club.

    However, there are no shortage of suitors for Martial and it looks increasingly likely that the 26-year-old will spend the remainder of the campaign away from Old Trafford.


    TOP STORY – SECOND TIME LUCKY FOR SEVILLA

    Sevilla had a loan bid for Martial rejected earlier this month, but Goal reports that the issues have been ironed out and the out-of-favour forward is now set to undergo a medical.

    Juventus are said to have been among a number of other European sides in the running to sign Martial, but Sevilla were always his preferred destination.

    The LaLiga club are expected to pay a loan fee for the former Monaco man, potentially as much as €5.96million (£5m), while the player himself will accept a cut in wages.


    ROUND-UP

    – After growing frustrated in their attempt to sign Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina, The Sun reports that Arsenal may now instead go after Real Madrid's Luka Jovic this month.

    – Calciomercato claims that Serie A leaders Inter are close to strengthening their squad with the addition of striker Felipe Caicedo from Genoa.

    Watford are set to move quickly on the back of sacking head coach Claudio Ranieri by bringing in Roy Hodgson as early as Tuesday, according to Sky Sports.

    – Goal suggest that Bayern Munich are targeting Chelsea's Andreas Christensen on a free transfer after Niklas Sule turned down the offer of a new contract in Bavaria.

    Manchester City are increasingly confident of wrapping up a deal for Julian Alvarez. However, the Daily Mail reports that the striker will initially remain on loan with River Plate.

    Newcastle United have made a fresh approach for Man Utd winger Jesse Lingard, according to The Telegraph. The Magpies are happy to pay a £6m loan fee.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.