Alexander-Arnold reaction speaks volumes
It was a celebration that spoke volumes.
As Diogo Jota wheeled away to mark his 11th goal of the season, it was his assist-maker whose outpouring of emotion was more profound.
It’s been a surprisingly difficult three weeks without Liverpool action for Trent Alexander-Arnold.
After the head-scratching omission from England duty – and the subsequent explanation for it, at length, from Gareth Southgate, who publicly detailed a dip in form – Alexander-Arnold found himself in a curious position not of his own making.
Some insiders at Liverpool were shocked by the England dropping, but the player himself, to his credit, was unwavering in his public support on social media during the Three Lions’ three successive wins without him.
The message was clear from Alexander-Arnold: Nothing to see here. Not from his perspective, at least.
But his loud scream at the breaking of the deadlock from Jota said it all.
It was a big goal for the Liverpool forward, but also for the England international, whose world-class delivery left his team-mate with the most inviting of balls to attack.
Question marks have remained around Alexander-Arnold all season, but the PFA Young Player of the Year has probably had a little too much scrutiny placed on him given the almost comical juggling that Jurgen Klopp has had to do for much of this season.
Klopp’s defence of his right-back was firm on Friday and only what Alexander-Arnold might reasonably have expected from the man who made him a Liverpool star, but the Reds boss was preaching to the converted for the majority of Reds fans.
“I don’t want to make a funny discussion now about Trent,” said Klopp after the game. “It’s Gareth’s decision but Trent is in a good shape. And if someone says he is not, I have to say you are wrong.”
The West Derby-born defender is not above constructive criticism, of course, but his standards have not been anywhere at the sub-zero level some have tried to argue since the England omission.
Here he was back to his excellent best. And in this form, there is no better right-back in this country, whatever Southgate thinks.
Reds target firmly back in focus
This was the day the title was finally relinquished by Liverpool.
Manchester City’s 2-0 win against Leicester earlier in the day meant the Reds, officially, can no longer retain a crown they had waited 30 years to wear.
That, of course, was something that had long since been written on the wall, given the remarkable downturn in fortunes since 2021 rolled in, but its black and white confirmation – in early April – will have hurt.
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Or at least it would have done had the focus not switched to the top-four battle some weeks ago.
After only really checking for City results for much of the past two years or so, the Reds are now having to take a glance at as few as four others as this unpredictable chase for fourth spot continues to rumble on post international break.
That is something even the usually pragmatic Klopp conceded before kick-off when he admitted the results of other teams, like Chelsea, who lost at home to West Brom, had to be looked at as big incentives for the remainder of the season.
“It’s always the same, the only interesting thing is if we win, “Klopp said, pre-match. “But in our situation if we win all our games and they win all their games they are above us so they have to lose.”
West Ham, Everton and Tottenham will have their own designs on a place in the top four too, of course, but Chelsea might just consider themselves to have been put on notice by this performance at Arsenal.
This was as good as Liverpool have been in months.
Salah gets his rewards
Arsenal’s Gabriel might have been reasonably content with his dealing of Mohamed Salah.
The Reds forward had twisted and turned and spun and run all game, but was limited to little by way of clear-cut chances.
Much of that was down to Gabriel’s sturdy performance, but one slip was all it took for the Liverpool superstar to punish his marker.
As the Brazilian defender attempted to slide the ball to safety, Salah pounced.
Immediately, the Egypt captain was in and his cheeky nutmeg of Bernd Leno was enough to all but confirm the visitors as winners here.