Trent Alexander-Arnold dispelled a myth involving Darwin Nunez after insisting he’s been holding up his end of the bargain, and launched another Liverpool charm offensive for primary transfer target Jude Bellingham.
Liverpool have struggled throughout the entire campaign thus far, with issues all across the pitch rearing their heads.
The defence and goalkeeper have kept just eight clean sheets from a possible 27 across all competitions. At the opposite end, a 9-0 victory over Bournemouth early in the season has masked their issues in front of goal.
Wasteful finishing has blighted their season and if the unusual Bournemouth result were removed, Liverpool would be the second-lowest scorers of any side situated in the top half.
Darwin Nunez has been guiltier than most with regards to spurning chances. Seeing the £85m signing drag shots harmlessly wide has amplified just how vital Sadio Mane was for the Reds.
Mane departed for Bayern Munich over the summer and speaking to Sky Sports, Alexander-Arnold acknowledged the Senegalese is a big miss. Around a quarter of Alexander-Arnold’s 46 EPL assists were converted by Mane.
“It’s always going to be different, but I think that’s just part of football,” said Alexander-Arnold.
“I don’t think you can get used to playing with certain players because the football world chops and changes every single season. You can’t just rely on certain players.
“Sadio is a world-class player and has been for many years. He’s someone who will help any team he’s at and do the things he does to a level that others can’t, so of course we are going to miss what he brings to the team.
“But we’ve got other players with different qualities who bring different things to our game who will help us in what we need to do.”
Alexander-Arnold’s assists numbers have plummeted this season (two in 24 across all competitions), with many pointing to Nunez’s poor finishing as the primary reason why.
The pair did combine for the first time against Wolves in the FA Cup. Addressing his new target man, Alexander-Arnold insisted they have already struck up an understanding, though it’s now down to Nunez to complete his end of the deal.
Pressure on Nunez to up conversion rate
“I think that chemistry and understanding has probably been there from early doors this season,” added the right-back.
“It’s so easy when you look at it, you think, we’ve had one goal together all season, maybe just haven’t found the same wavelength.
“But if you go back and watch some games, or you watch the chances created, you see that I’ve been putting balls into him from early on in the season. We just haven’t been able to score off them.”
Alexander-Arnold continued: “He’s a player who I think it’s easy to just write him off, it’s easy to say he’s not scoring goals.
“But he’s getting himself into areas and places where he’s able to hurt the opposition and that’s all you can really ask.
“We have faith that the goals will start coming. No-one here is thinking about that. We are all behind him and we are all supporting him.
“It’s always good to see him on the scoresheet, but as long as the team wins, that’s all anyone cares about.”
TAA offers Bellingham insight
Many theories have been put forward when trying to explain Liverpool’s struggles this year. The one area most observers ultimately land on is the soft-touch midfield.
Liverpool were once the hardest team to play through in the top flight. The opposite is now true, though the Reds are keen to address the problem in 2023.
Jude Bellingham is the club’s primary transfer focus, while a move for a secondary target has been handed a significant boost after two imminent deals paved the way for an exit.
In any case, Alexander-Arnold offered insight into the type of player Bellingham is. Both he and Jordan Henderson are believed to have struck up a good relationship with Bellingham while with England in Qatar.
“I’ve probably got the same opinion as anyone who has watched him play,” said Alexander-Arnold. “He’s someone who is exciting.
“He’s an incredible talent for such a young age, who helps teams win games and scores and assists goals.
“He’s an all-round midfielder and I think he’s someone who has got a very, very bright future. He’s level-headed on and off the pitch. The professionalism, everything is there. He is an outstanding player.”
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