Liverpool have been dealt another defensive blow as right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is facing 4 weeks out on the sidelines. The English international picked up a calf injury in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw against Manchester City this weekend.
Both Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola criticized Richard Masters’ lack of leadership as they blamed the Premier League Chief Executive for not allowing a change in rules that permits the use of 5 substitutes in a match.
The injury was not surprising, considering the young defender has played in 14 matches in the last 2 months. The tireless role of a modern-day full-back coupled with playing almost 7 matches a month is too much to bear for the legs of a 22-year-old. Even when Trent returns, Klopp must look for a way to rest Alexander-Arnold without compromising much on quality.
The Englishman hobbled off the pitch in the 67th minute after injuring his calf in making a sprint. The full-back has assisted 25 times in the league since the start of the 2019/20 season. While Alexander-Arnold has not started this season in the form he finished the last one, he continues to be important.
Injury to Trent Alexander-Arnold signals a shortage at right-back
The 22-year-old full-back shoulders major responsibility each game to be the primary creative force for the Reds. The Englishman is also vital at the back, especially considering that Liverpool’s secondary right-back is the inexperienced Neco Williams.
The Reds offloaded right-back Ki-Jana Hoever in September as a part of the exchange deal for Wolverhampton Wanderer’s Diogo Jota.
With fixtures coming at break-neck speed in the next few months, signing defenders in January becomes imperative. Klopp signed Kostas Tsimikas as a left-back cover in the summer but has no such reliable backup on the right-hand side. Joe Gomez, Liverpool’s only other experienced right-back, is now transformed as a centre-back, a position where the Reds are already down to their bare bones.
Liverpool may have to play up to 7 matches without their first-choice right-back. If Alexander-Arnold is indeed out for a month, the Reds play seven times before his official date of return. Luckily, 3 of those 7 matches are Champions League matches, where Liverpool are set to comfortably qualify from their group.
However, league fixtures against 1st placed Leicester, and Wolverhampton Wanderers will not be easy by any means. While away league games to Brighton & Hove Albion and Fulham may not have been a problem for a Liverpool side otherwise fully fit, the Reds right now have injuries all over the pitch.
Liverpool’s likely options to deputize for Alexander-Arnold are; the veteran James Milner, youngster Neco Williams, the versatile Fabinho, and Joe Gomez. Fabinho and Gomez can only play at right-back if Klopp has a cover for them in their original positions, which right now, he doesn’t.
With January approaching and the fixtures piling up, will we see Klopp sign a versatile center-back that can deputize on the wings?
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