Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool to continue to "show our real face" after they secured a third win in a row to move up to sixth in the Premier League.

Liverpool came from behind to beat West Ham 2-1 at London Stadium on Wednesday thanks to goals from Cody Gakpo and Joel Matip, cancelling out Lucas Paqueta's early opener.

West Ham boss David Moyes was left infuriated after a handball appeal against Thiago Alcantara in the penalty area late on was waved away by referee Chris Kavanagh, as well as by the VAR.

"I liked the performance a lot," Klopp said at his post-match press conference. "First half, I think we were exceptional. Controlled the game from the beginning pretty much, made one mistake and bam – 1-0 down. Great goal, I have to say – what a screamer – but [we] stayed calm, kept playing, scored our screamer as well and controlled the game.

"Second half I liked as well. We had to really dig in deep then because of the physicality of West Ham, they always have a chance to come back as long as you don't kill the game – and we didn't. [We] had massive chances after set-pieces, I have no clue how we didn't take them – I didn't understand it but then [we] scored a wonderful goal from a set-piece.

"I heard now about the handball [but] we were on the other side of that. I thought he just fell on the ball but I can understand Moysey sees that probably completely different.

"In the end, if you look at the game, I think we are the deserved winner and that's, for me, very important. If we got a point, I'm still happy with the game, not with the result – [but] now I'm happy with both."

The win took Liverpool within six points of the top four, albeit having played two more games than fourth-placed Manchester United and one more than Newcastle United in third.

On the race for the Champions League spots, Klopp said: "I can't see the race yet, because we are not in position for a race. The only thing we can do is win football games, if that puts pressure on other teams that's not in our hands because we don't play them [United and Newcastle].

"I want us to finish the season as good as somehow possible. I want us to take something out of this season for next year, if that is European competition, great, if not, we have to accept it as well and go from there.

"I want us, at least for a few weeks, [to] show our real face – and not the nice one, the ugly one, the nice one, the ugly one. It's really tough to do that. So now we did it for kind of three games – three and a half, the second half against Arsenal was brilliant as well.

"We played here plenty of times, it's always tough. Result-wise, it looked better from time to time but the goals we scored were then counter-attacks, stuff like that, quick reacting, all these kind of things. Tonight we controlled the game in a way we never did before against West Ham and I really liked that."

 

Klopp had earlier told BT Sport how pleased he was again with Trent Alexander-Arnold's performance in his new hybrid role between right-back and midfield, with the 24-year-old claiming an assist for Gakpo's goal, and making more passes in the opposition half than anyone else on the pitch (62).

The Liverpool manager refused to entertain the idea that Alexander-Arnold's new role had led to West Ham's chances down their right side, and replied to a question about one specific chance that ended with Virgil van Dijk narrowly denying Michail Antonio in the first half: "That had nothing to do with the role of Trent.

"We had three players on the other side in a challenge, so we just don't win the ball. That means we move to the ball side, that is a risk you take, you should win the ball then.

"Three v one we don't win the ball, then the other side is open... it has nothing to do with Trent Alexander-Arnold."

Fabinho and Alisson were impressed by Trent Alexander-Arnold's performance in a new role for Liverpool against Leeds United.

The Reds routed their relegation-threatened opponents 6-1 at Elland Road on Monday, with Alexander-Arnold pulling the strings.

The 24-year-old has been much-maligned this season for his defending, but showcased his impressive passing range as he regularly stepped into midfield alongside Fabinho, Curtis Jones and Jordan Henderson, while also covering right-back in defensive phases.

Speaking to Liverpool's official website, Fabinho explained it is not that much of a change for his team-mate, who often found himself drifting into the midfield from right-back anyway.

"Trent is somebody [who is] really good on the ball, with his quality of pass and finding players in behind," the Brazil international said. "We can really use this.

"In this position, of course he will have less time to think, but I think he's a little bit used to being in this position. Even when he played right-back, he likes to drop a little bit and go to the middle. We can really use his quality of pass.

"In the last game [v Leeds], he gave two assists and was really good – not just with his passing, but his reaction was good as well. I think in the academy he played as a midfielder, so he knows a little bit about this role and it was not hard for him."

 

Alexander-Arnold claimed two assists on Monday, becoming just the fourth player to do so in a Premier League game while also completing 100+ passes and maintaining a pass accuracy over 90 per cent since records began in 2003-04 (after Santi Cazorla v West Bromwich Albion in 2015, David Silva v Newcastle United in 2020, and Paul Pogba v Newcastle in 2021).

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson added: "This game was a really good example of [Liverpool's counter-pressing] – the way that we react.

"Not only Trent going from the midfield and then going to the side, but other players knowing that we need to have a good reaction on the counter-press or getting back to their position, buying time.

"We dealt really well with the chances that the opponent had for counter-attacks – we stopped them so often in the game. As Fab said, this always gives you a good feeling on the pitch. That's something that we want to keep with us."

Jurgen Klopp's men host Nottingham Forest on Saturday as they look to make a late run for the European spots, currently sitting in eighth place, nine points behind Newcastle in fourth with eight games remaining.

"Football is quick," Alisson added. "We have a different opponent now in front of us. They have their goals, they need to reach their targets. We have ours as well. We come from a game where we found our way back and they come from a game they lost [2-0 at home to Manchester United].

"They want to show a response, for sure, for their supporters, for themselves. But we are focused on things that we need to do and prepare as best as we can to get on the pitch. It's a home game, it's always good to play [there], to have your supporters there helping you.

"I hope Anfield will be on fire on Saturday afternoon."

Pascal Gross has signed an extension to his deal at Brighton and Hove Albion, meaning Seagulls fans can expect their team to keep creating plenty of chances.

The 31-year-old has been at Brighton since arriving from Ingolstadt in 2017, contributing 23 goals and 33 assists in 184 Premier League games for the club.

Since Gross came to England's top-flight in Brighton's first season after promotion from the Championship, only Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne (535) has created more chances than his 388, ahead of Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold (381) and Mohamed Salah (361).

Brighton announced on Wednesday that the German midfielder has extended his stay at the Amex Stadium until 2025.

Reported Manchester United target Jeremie Frimpong is similar to Trent Alexander-Arnold in the way he "bravely" attacks but "forgets that he needs to defend".

That is according to Dimitar Berbatov, who played for both United and Frimpong's current club Bayer Leverkusen.

Reports this week have suggested United manager Erik ten Hag is particularly keen on the right-back, having this season rotated between using Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in that role.

Frimpong has scored eight goals in the Bundesliga this season, the most of any defender across Europe's top five leagues, while only Raphael Guerreiro can match his 14 goal involvements.

Dalot has a goal and two assists in the Premier League, while Wan-Bissaka has not contributed to a single goal.

Frimpong also ranks first among defenders for touches in the opposition box (118) and second for chances created from open play (41).

In the latter category, he is joined in the top 10 by Liverpool's Alexander Arnold (35), and Berbatov sees similarities between the two – at both ends of the pitch.

"He is someone who reminds me of Trent Alexander Arnold, because he is primarily an attacking full-back and sometimes he forgets that he needs to defend as well," Berbatov, speaking on behalf of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, told Stats Perform.

 

"But the way he's playing, bravely going up the pitch, attacking, running, assisting and scoring goals, it's a joy for me to watch, to be honest.

"Yes, I say it in the form of a joke, but he needs to work a bit more on his defensive part of the game.

"But he's very young, he has a bright future in my mind, and I think some of the big clubs will come up to him, for sure."

Alexander-Arnold has been widely criticised for his defensive work, with that scrutiny increasing in a difficult season for Liverpool.

However, he played a hybrid midfield role on Monday against Leeds United and provided two assists in a 6-1 win.

Meanwhile, Frimpong has played every game for a Leverkusen side who have conceded 41 goals in the Bundesliga, the joint-most in the top half of the table.


Dimitar Berbatov and Ben Foster featured in Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s 2022/23 UEFA Europa League campaign content, Mission Masterclass’. You can view episode one in full https://youtu.be/XTCqaMGIvyI

Harry Kane's future at Tottenham is uncertain, with his contract due to expire in 2024.

As a result, speculation is developing about a move for the England international striker during the next transfer window.

Manchester United are known to be interested in the 29-year-old, while Bayern Munich were previously linked too.

TOP STORY – PSG TO CONTEND WITH UTD FOR KANE SIGNATURE

Paris Saint-Germain will battle it out with Manchester United to land Tottenham forward Harry Kane, reports Le Parisien.

PSG sporting director Luis Campos wants to bolster the side's attack and has identified Kane as their top target.

The French champions' president Nasser Al Khelaifi has a good relationship with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, which may help negotiations.

ROUND-UP

- Lionel Messi has decided to remain in Europe for another two seasons, amid speculation about a move to Saudi Arabia or MLS, namely Inter Miami, claims SPORT. Messi has been linked with former club Barcelona, having yet to re-sign with Paris Saint-Germain.

- Fichajes reports Barcelona are circling to make a move for Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold in the upcoming transfer window. Barca are hoping to sign him on a reduced fee, with the Reds to miss out on Champions League football next term.

- Liverpool will commence talks with Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Alexis Mac Allister's camp soon, according to Fabrizio Romano, who said an off-season exit is a certainty.

- Newcastle United, West Ham United and Tottenham are all circling for James Ward-Prowse who has been told he can leave Southampton if they get relegated, claims Daily Mail.

- Inter have turned their attention to signing Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram or Liverpool's Roberto Firmino, rather than making Romelu Lukaku's loan spell from Chelsea permanent, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Borussia Dortmund have agreed personal terms with Borussia Monchengladbach defender Ramy Bensebaini to join as a free agent in the off-season.

Real Madrid are reportedly eager to bolster their full-back options, to upgrade from Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy.

Los Blancos were linked with Manchester City's Joao Cancelo - currently on loan at Bayern Munich - earlier this week by Fichajes.

The Spanish giants are set to miss out on this season's LaLiga title, with Barcelona leading by 10 points.

TOP STORY – MADRID KEEN ON LIVERPOOL'S TAA

Real Madrid will turn to Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold should they fail to land Reece James from Chelsea, claims Ekrem Konur.

Los Blancos are in the market for a new full-back and Konur claims Madrid could also turn to Bayer Leverkusen's Jeremie Frimpong.

Alexander-Arnold has had a mixed campaign for Liverpool, who appear set for a squad revamp in the off-season. The 24-year-old England full-back is contracted with the Reds until 2025.

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti is an admirer of Torino's 21-year-old midfielder Samuele Ricci with Los Blancos keeping tabs on his situation, according to Tuttosport.

– The Sunday Mirror claims Manchester City are leading the race to sign Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham from Real Madrid , with Liverpool having pulled out.

Chelsea are looking to offer Romelu Lukaku as part of a deal with Atletico Madrid to sign Portuguese forward Joao Felix permanently, reports Fichajes. Chelsea are unwilling to pay Atletico's €100m asking fee, but may part with €70m along with the Belgian forward.

Tottenham are tracking Barcelona winger Ansu Fati, reports Mundo Deportivo. The report suggests Spurs are willing to make him their most expensive transfer in club history.

RB Leipzig are considering a move to sign Arsenal forward Folarin Balogun in the close season, claims Todofichajes. Balogun has impressed this season on loan with Reims .

Chelsea have interviewed Sporting boss Ruben Amorim about taking over as manager next season, reports talkSPORT.

There is no margin for error when it comes to selecting your fantasy team with just six weeks of the Premier League season to go.

Whether you are battling to win the league, striving to climb off the bottom or desperate to catch or family member above you, it is vital to pick up precious points before it’s too late.

While you may have been picking up points galore in recent weeks and reluctant to make changes, be wary of missing out by keeping the faith.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform have picked out four players to get in your team for the latest set of matches.

 

David de Gea (Nottingham Forest v Manchester United)

Manchester United goalkeeper De Gea has the joint-highest number of top-flight clean sheets this season, racking up 13 along with Newcastle United's Nick Pope.

Seven of the Spaniard's shutouts have come in 2023 and that can rise to eight when the Red Devils face struggling Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

Forest have failed to score in all three games against United so far this season, with De Gea playing in two of those matches.

 

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Leeds United v Liverpool)

Liverpool full-back Alexander-Arnold produced a third assist this year for Roberto Firmino to equalise late in a pulsating 2-2 draw with leaders Arsenal last Sunday.

Only Kieran Trippier (420) and Kevin De Bruyne (298) have played more passes into the opposition box than the England international's 287 this season.

Alexander-Arnold has provided assists in each of his previous two trips to Leeds United in the top flight and, with the Whites suffering a 5-1 hammering at home to Crystal Palace last time out, he can capitalise on their defensive frailties on Monday.

Michael Olise (Southampton v Crystal Palace)

Olise caused Leeds all sorts of problems in that rout at Elland Road on Sunday, becoming only the second Palace player to provide three assists in a Premier League match.

Leeds were unable to contain winger Olise, who has produced 13 assists since the start of last season. Only De Bruyne has more assists than Olise per 90 minutes of the players who have featured in at least 3,000 minutes during that time.

Olise can torment bottom-of-the-table Southampton at St Mary's on Saturday.

Ivan Toney (Wolves v Brentford)

Brentford striker Toney has scored 18 Premier League goals and provided four assists this season.

Only Erling Haaland (35) and Harry Kane (25) have more goal involvements in the division in the 2022-23 campaign.

Toney has scored twice and laid one goal on in his Premier League encounters with Wolves, a tally he can add to at Molineux on Saturday.

Trent Alexander-Arnold believes there were flashes of the old Liverpool on display in Sunday's fightback against Arsenal but accepts it was probably too late for a top-four push.

Liverpool drew 2-2 with the Premier League leaders at Anfield, battling back from 2-0 down to earn a commendable point – and they probably should have completed the turnaround late on.

A positive outcome did not always look likely, however, as Arsenal were utterly dominant at the point of going 2-0 up and were arguably unfortunate not to have scored more themselves.

The turning point seemed to come in the 41st minute when an altercation between Granit Xhaka and Alexander-Arnold sparked a fiery atmosphere in the stadium, and Mohamed Salah pulled one back shortly after.

Liverpool looked the bigger threat from that point and inexplicably failed to get a late winner after Roberto Firmino's equaliser, with Darwin Nunez and Ibrahima Konate passing up gilt-edged opportunities.

 

The point did not do much for the Reds' Champions League hopes, but Alexander-Arnold felt the performance showed Liverpool are not a lost cause even during a difficult season.

"We showed a different side to us, one that we've had in previous seasons, where we get past disappointment and are able to get back into games – and we showed that, so that's a decent sign," he told Liverpool's official website.

"But we need to be getting three points. No matter whether we're playing top of the league or bottom of the league, three points is our aim and we know we could have got that [on Sunday].

"We showed a different side to us. We showed that we really wanted to go out there and put a good performance in.

"Even though you're playing probably the best team in the league, we still showed our quality and dominated them for the whole second half and should've won the game."

However, the Reds remain 12 points behind fourth-placed Manchester United with nine matches remaining.

 

Alexander-Arnold accepts overturning such a deficit looks a tall order.

"We take the point and try to improve it next week," he continued. "We've got a full week to go and train, and that's what we need to go and do.

"We have our targets and it's going to be difficult to get Champions League football now I think. But it's still mathematically possible, so as long as that's possible then that's what we go for.

"We're not in the position we want to be in at all but there's still nine games to go. That's where our heads are at – let's go and try to win all nine."

Trent Alexander-Arnold must forget the idea of being a midfielder and focus on not being a "liability" defensively, otherwise he risks his chances with England in future.

That was the message from former England and Manchester United captain Gary Neville, now a Sky Sports pundit, who was left unimpressed by Alexander-Arnold's defensive lapses against Arsenal.

The Liverpool right-back was caught out of position when Gabriel Martinelli crossed from the left for Gabriel Jesus to head in Arsenal's second, after Martinelli had earlier opened the scoring at Anfield on Sunday.

Alexander-Arnold would make amends by creating Roberto Firmino's late leveller in the 2-2 draw, with his sixth Premier League assist against the Gunners (only Steven Gerrard has more with seven).

But Neville, who has regularly questioned the England and Liverpool defender's abilities at the back, says Alexander-Arnold's error-laden defensive performances cannot be masked by his output going forward.

"He was absolutely sensational going forward," Neville said on his Sky Sports podcast. "I don't know what to say about him anymore because his defensive play is that bad.

"Some of the positions he takes up against Martinelli to defend a straight pass is schoolboy defending.

"I don't understand it. But some of his attacking play, his deliveries and his courage to get on the ball despite those mistakes has got to be admired. I admire him enormously.

"He doesn't need to become the best defender in the world. He just cannot be a liability. He doesn't have to be a great defender with the way in which he attacks. I don't think anybody is asking for that.

"You're just asking for a little bit of competence and attention to your work. The conversation will continue about him.

"I hope somehow over the summer the penny drops and he realises that his defensive work is hurting him.

"It's hurting him because he's been left out of the England squad. How can that talent be left out of an England squad?

"When you're playing for a team that is out of form such as Liverpool, those weaknesses get exposed a little bit more."

Klopp opted to utilise Alexander-Arnold as an inverted full-back when in possession, much like Oleksandr Zinchenko did for Arsenal.

Alexander-Arnold delivered in an attacking sense, with game-leading returns for final-third entries (13), chances created (four), touches (76) and passes into the opposition's third (24).

But Neville remains unsure whether Alexander-Arnold could replicate a similar showing if tasked with operating as an out-and-out midfielder.

He added: "Alexander-Arnold would drift into midfield in any case given the freedom being at right-back gives him, but if he was actually down to play in midfield away from home in the Premier League and he was getting the ball popped into him, when he's got his back to play, that's a different ball game.

"Some of the best midfielders in the world, the Xavis, [Andres] Iniestas, they're the ones who can manipulate the ball and Rodri does it very well. Trent wouldn't be able to do that, honestly.

"It's something we've said before about Declan Rice, and his ability to receive the ball on the half turn. You've got to be a top player who has played hundreds of games as a kid, looking over your shoulder.

"I've heard it said a number of times about full-backs being able to play in midfield before... 'he can play wide, he can play as a winger' – no they can't. That's why they're full-backs."

Bukayo Saka returned to the Arsenal team to face Liverpool at Anfield, while Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah were handed starts for the hosts.

Saka dropped to the bench for a 4-1 hammering of Leeds United last weekend due to illness, but the England winger replaced Leandro Trossard in the Premier League leaders' starting line-up on Sunday.

That was the only change made by manager Mikel Arteta as the Gunners looked to restore their advantage over second-placed Manchester City to eight points.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp recalled centre-back Van Dijk and leading scorer Salah to his team, along with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Cody Gakpo.

Van Dijk was absent for a goalless draw with Chelsea in midweek, while Salah, Robertson, Gakpo and Alexander-Arnold started on the bench at Stamford Bridge.

Thiago Alcantara was included among the substitutes for Sunday's game after two months on the sidelines with a hip injury.

Trent Alexander-Arnold says Liverpool's next three games could "define" their season and wants "three big results".

Liverpool have back-to-back trips to Manchester City and Chelsea before hosting Premier League leaders Arsenal at Anfield a week on Sunday.

The Reds have had a difficult campaign so far, out of every cup competition and sitting sixth in the league, seven points behind fourth-placed Tottenham with two games in hand, and five behind Newcastle United in fifth.

Knowing they cannot afford to lose any more ground in the race for Champions League qualification, Alexander-Arnold is hoping he and his team-mates can get some points on the board this week, starting at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

"I think if we get three big results, it's game on really, and hopefully the season pushes on to be a good one," he told Liverpool's official website. "These three results can define the season if we let it and if we want it to. We want to go out there and win all three games – and that's our plan.

"I think as a team we've probably lacked that confidence at times during the season. But to go and get big results against big teams will instil that confidence back within us. We're excited as a team, we're looking fresh, good in training and we're excited. It's going to be a big week and then hopefully a big end to the season for us."

City are once again in the race for the title, trailing Arsenal by eight points with a game in hand, and Alexander-Arnold is aware of the task at hand to try and defeat Pep Guardiola's men.

"Every time you play against Man City, the motivation's there no matter what," he said. "Over the past five, six years, I would say us and them have been the best teams in the league, and they show their quality year in, year out and consistently. They're always up there as one of, if not the best team in the world.

"That'll be the same on Saturday. We need to play a really good game and execute our game plan to have a chance of winning it. I think we're able to go there and get the result but it's about making sure we earn it."

One positive for Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is seeing Luis Diaz back in training, with the Colombia forward having not played since sustaining a knee injury against Arsenal in October.

"He's a top player, a top lad," Alexander-Arnold said about the former Porto man. "It's been a tough season for him to see him out so much. But he's back, he's back smiling, he's enjoying his football, so that's all you can ask [for].

"With a player like that, he brings enthusiasm to the team and brings a spark that not many players have. It's exciting to have him back."

Ivan Toney has been called up by England for this month's Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine, with Trent Alexander-Arnold missing out.

Toney was handed his first senior call-up ahead of Nations League fixtures against Italy and Germany in September, though the Brentford striker failed to get any minutes in those games and did not make England's World Cup squad despite his excellent form.

The 27-year-old scored in Brentford's 2-0 win over Southampton on Tuesday, taking his tally of Premier League goals this season to 16 – a total bettered only by Erling Haaland (28) and Harry Kane (20) – but his inclusion this time around comes as something of a surprise after he was charged with 262 alleged breaches of the Football Association's (FA) gambling rules.

Gareth Southgate, however, remains willing to select the striker as long as he is available to feature for his club. 

"The fact is he's available for his club, there hasn't been a trial or any judgement, so I don't know on what basis we wouldn't pick him," Southgate said after naming his squad on Thursday.

"He's playing really well, I like his presence in games and he deserves his opportunity."

Alexander-Arnold is among the most notable absentees, having attracted criticism for his performances in an underwhelming campaign for Liverpool.

With Reece James returning to the fold after missing the World Cup with a knee injury, Southgate believes selecting Alexander-Arnold – as well as fellow absentee Ben White – would have been wasteful.

"The three boys that are in as right-backs, we've got them ahead of those two [Alexander-Arnold and White]," Southgate said. "It's the hardest position to pick, it's always shifting around on form.

"Kyle [Walker] and [Kieran] Trippier were obviously the ones that played at the World Cup, and Reece, coming back, is another top player.

"In the past we've maybe taken more players in that position, but it's the stage of the season where you don't want to carry too many who are not going to play. All the players who haven't made the squad know the reasons why."

Raheem Sterling has also missed out but Southgate put his absence down to a muscle injury.

Asked whether Sterling would have made the squad if he was fully fit, Southgate responded: "Yeah, absolutely."

Conor Coady, who has lost his place in Everton's team under Sean Dyche, has been left out, with Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi coming in, while Harry Maguire has retained his place despite limited game time at Manchester United. 

Maguire's club-mate Jadon Sancho has not earned a recall, though in-form Marcus Rashford joins Toney and Harry Kane among England's striker options.

England travel to Naples to face Italy in a re-run of the Euro 2020 final next Thursday, before hosting Ukraine at Wembley Stadium three days later.

England squad: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle United), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal); Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Maddison (Leicester City), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (West Ham); Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford).

Trent Alexander-Arnold's poor form "can't continue" for Liverpool as Jamie Carragher called on his former club to sign another right-back.

Alexander-Arnold endured another difficult night up against Real Madrid superstar Vinicius Junior as Liverpool bowed out of the Champions League with a 1-0 defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Such performances have been the norm for Alexander-Arnold this season, though – often against opponents of far more modest talent.

Having established himself as one of the best full-backs in world football in previous campaigns, there is concern now around Alexander-Arnold's form.

Anfield great Carragher, in his role as a CBS Sports pundit, said: "It's very, very worrying – not just for Liverpool as a team; for him. That can't continue, what's happened this season with him and the amount of times he's been lacking defensively."

Signing another right-back to compete with or replace Alexander-Arnold would be a solution, Carragher continued.

"The problem they've got in that position is they've never had real competition for Trent Alexander-Arnold," he said.

"One of the reasons why is because he's been so good. You think: who do you buy? How much do you spend for someone who's not really going to play every week?

"But I think Liverpool are at the point now where they've got to go and buy a right-back. That's Jurgen Klopp's decision in terms of how good that right-back is, how much he costs, but that lad needs serious competition.

"He's been playing now for five years at the top level, week in, week out, with no rest."

Alexander-Arnold "needs help", according to Carragher, although he suggests the defender's flaws would not be as obvious if the rest of the Liverpool team were performing as they have previously.

"I've always defended him in that he's played for one of the best teams in the world, and when you play for one of the best teams in the world, as Liverpool are, you do a lot more attacking than you do defending," Carragher said.

"We all know his defending is not good enough, and I don't think it will ever be good enough. We're talking about a player who's played 260 games; it's not going to massively improve now.

"So, when Liverpool drop off and aren't one of the best teams in Europe, like they have been for the last four years, now they're one of the pack going for the Champions League, then you're doing more defending, less attacking.

"You're seeing the worst traits of Trent and now his strengths going forward. That is a massive problem.

"I thought this problem would rear its head when Klopp left and Liverpool dropped back to where they were when I was a player, most seasons trying to qualify for top four.

"If Liverpool are trying to qualify for the Champions League on a yearly basis, I'm not sure Trent's your man at right-back.

"If Liverpool get back to being one of the best teams in Europe, which is what they'll try to do next season, he is your man."

Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk has leapt to the defence of team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold amid recent criticism of the right-back's performances.

Alexander-Arnold has been the subject of plenty of scrutiny following his poor defensive performances in the Premier League and Champions League. 

The defender's mistakes in Liverpool's 3-3 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, in particular, drew heavy criticism from fans and pundits. 

The 23-year-old also failed to feature in either of England's two Nations League games last week, with Gareth Southgate making it clear Alexander-Arnold is not his first-choice right-back.

But van Dijk, speaking after Liverpool's 2-0 win against Rangers on Tuesday in which Alexander-Arnold opened the scoring with a stunning free-kick, said: "We know the quality he has and he showed it again today.

"He has been showing it over the last couple of years; he has developed as one of the best right-backs in the country."

Netherlands international Van Dijk also questioned the culture surrounding player welfare and media scrutiny in English football.

He said: "I've been in the UK now for eight, nine years and everyone here is very good to praise a player very high up to the sky and let them fall as hard as they can.

"That's what we, as players, have to deal with. Everyone is talking about how we should accept it.

"For him to just carry on working – not only him but other players as well – deal with it and show reaction today is what we need, all of us. I think it's important that we back him."

Liverpool's victory against Rangers leaves them second in Group A behind Napoli, who beat Jurgen Klopp's men 4-1 in the opening group game. 

Gareth Southgate has left Trent Alexander-Arnold out of his England squad for Monday's Nations League dead rubber against Germany, citing a need to pick players he believes in.

England have already been relegated from League A after failing to win any of their five matches, which have also only yielded a single goal.

The Three Lions' form has been especially alarming given the World Cup starts in less than two months, with the Germany game essentially their final warm-up match.

With very little riding on the match at Wembley, it was assumed Southgate might take the chance to give opportunities to those who have been used sparingly.

But Southgate has instead given an indication as to who he does not appear to have complete faith in, with Alexander-Arnold – an unused substitute during Friday's defeat to Italy – among those left out.

Fikayo Tomori, James Ward-Prowse and Jarrod Bowen are reportedly the others set to miss out, while Jack Grealish is suspended.

This exclusion is just the latest blow for Alexander-Arnold at international level, with the right-back seemingly underused considering his importance for Liverpool.

"Of course, he does have a fantastic range of passing, we're blessed with different profiles of player in that position," Southgate told reporters when discussing Alexander-Arnold's irregularity for England.

"If we play with wing-backs, [Kieran] Trippier and Reece James are also exceptional with the ball, in different ways, and we're always having to look at the full package with everything and assess the players on all of their attributes.

"They've all been to Champions League finals, some of them have been to latter stages of major tournaments with us, Trent's won the league, Trippier's won the Spanish league, [Kyle] Walker's won the English league; there are so many good attributes about them.

"It's a really difficult position to make decisions on, but we have to go with the ones we believe [in], and ultimately I'll be judged on the outcome, as we know."

For Southgate, it is not simply a matter of putting Alexander-Arnold in the team and telling him to play his natural game; he operates in a certain way for Liverpool because Jurgen Klopp's system allows him to thrive, and England have not yet managed to find such a solution.

"You can have a style of play and a way of playing, and a balance to the team, that... at Liverpool they find a way of playing that brings the best out of his attributes," said Southgate.

"And that’s what we're all trying to do with every team, you're trying to build a team that accentuates the positives, and within the group protects yourselves against how the opponents might come from you."

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