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Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville disagree on Trent Alexander-Arnold in ‘horrific’ Liverpool claim

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Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville disagree on Trent Alexander-Arnold in 'horrific' Liverpool claim

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has expressed his criticism of Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold’s performance in the recent 1-1 draw against Manchester City. Despite Alexander-Arnold scoring the equalizer for Liverpool, Ferdinand believes that his defensive display was “horrific”.

While Alexander-Arnold received praise from other football figures such as Gary Neville and Virgil van Dijk for his creative contributions and man-of-the-match performance, Ferdinand focused on the right-back’s defensive shortcomings. Ferdinand acknowledged Alexander-Arnold’s exceptional abilities on the ball, including his passing range and technique. However, he highlighted a lack of intensity and fundamental defensive skills in his game.

Ferdinand recalled a previous game where Alexander-Arnold successfully neutralized Leroy Sané of Manchester City. However, he questioned why the Liverpool defender failed to exhibit the same level of defensive intensity in the recent match against City.

“He scores, yeah, but I look at their goal and think he should’ve done a lot better against (Nathan) Aké. I just don’t understand it,” Ferdinand said Vibe with Five Podcast. “There’s a passiveness when he has to defend, there’s no intensity. When he goes to engage the winger, I don’t see those soft knees ready to explode, he goes in like he’s forgot about the fundamentals about defending. One-v-one you’ve got to go in, you’ve got to be lower, ready to make the run.

“(Jérémy) Doku, there isn’t a winger in the league right now who is as aggressive as him. Before the game starts you go, ‘right, I’m going to be ready because he will try go down the line or inside’. It looked like Trent didn’t have an understanding or an acknowledgment that this is that guy.”

During the encounter with City, Doku managed to dribble past Alexander-Arnold seven times, highlighting the defensive challenges the Liverpool right-back faced. Ferdinand compared Alexander-Arnold’s position to legendary full-backs such as Roberto Carlos, Cafu, and Dani Alves, emphasizing the need for improvement in his defensive game.

Ferdinand raised questions about what Alexander-Arnold’s thoughts were after the match. He wondered if the right-back considered his defensive performance to be overshadowed by his goal-scoring contribution or if he recognized the need for improvement in his defensive responsibilities. Ferdinand emphasized the importance of balancing attacking prowess with defensive capabilities for a right-back.

“(After the match), you all have that five minutes to yourself, a little appraisal, ‘how did I play’. I want to know what Trent is thinking. He gets the goal — that’s unbelievable — but does he think that disguises a horrific defensive performance because, ‘I got dribbled by seven times, I’ve not put my impact or imprint on him at all’, or is it, ‘I’ve just scored a goal’ and that’s all he is thinking about?

“Is he thinking, ‘I’ve got to improve defensively?’ That is the question I want to be answered because then you can get to understand, can he be a good right-back? Can he be a top, top right-back? Or is he already thinking, ‘I’m morphing out of that now and I’m more attack-minded? Everything I do with the ball outweighs anything I do’.”

The former Manchester United defender acknowledged Alexander-Arnold’s exceptional skills with the ball and his ability to read the game. However, he questioned whether defenders should primarily be judged based on their offensive contributions. Ferdinand cited examples of other top full-backs like Cafu and Dani Alves, who were also excellent defenders. He urged Alexander-Arnold to prioritize his defensive responsibilities and enhance his fundamental defensive skills.

Liverpool.com says: How is it that one pundit can give Alexander-Arnold the Player of the Match award and praise his defensive efforts, and then another comes along and describes his performance as ‘horrific’? Ferdinand just seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill here.

Yes, Alexander-Arnold should have done better with Aké in the lead-up to City’s goal, but the way he talks about his display against Doku, you’d think the winger had just scored a hat-trick and bagged a couple of assists to go with it. Trent could have dealt with him better, but his defensive display was far from ‘horrific’.

The conversation around his best position has already reached Gerrard, Lampard and Scholes levels of tedium. The reaction since Saturday’s game, in which, let’s not forget, he was singled out as the best player on the pitch by a former right-back in Gary Neville, has been truly bizarre, and he should certainly be getting more credit than he has received in some quarters.

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