Stephen Warnock: Trent’s ‘forward-thinking’ role can carry ‘a feeling of vulnerability’ when attacks break down

Stephen Warnock interview for

Former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock has told that he believes opposing teams targeting the defensive areas vacated by Trent Alexander-Arnold is becoming an “issue” for Liverpool, suggesting that Trent needs a defender behind him who can cover for him “effortlessly”.

Read more on what he had to say below.

Space left by Trent in defence is now being targeted by teams

Warnock comments on Trent’s new role as a pseudo-midfielder in attack and how although he’s talented in that role, it can at times leave the position left in defence exposed which teams are starting to exploit.

I’m sure there’s a feeling of vulnerability that comes with Trent Alexander-Arnold’s new role as a full-back that goes into midfield, knowing that he has to recover back into that right-back position in the back four. He probably feels as though that is a side where he needs a centre-back who understands the role so effortlessly and is able to cover him in that position.

If it is Ibrahima Konate in there then he can push a bit higher because Konate has the experience to cover him, but if it is Jarell Quansah then he probably has to adapt his game a little bit to help him and manage Quansah through the game as he is less experienced.

Now, though, I think it is an area that other teams target when they play Liverpool. Against Crystal Palace, Ebere Eze and Michael Olise targeted that area time and time again, because they know they can. Trent has got a forward-thinking mind, so he’s not thinking too much about the defensive side. He wants to affect the game in a positive way and be dominant on the ball, but when it breaks down it becomes an issue for Liverpool.

Trent and Andy Robertson have assisted for fun in the past few seasons, overlapping in full-back positions. I think they can still do that but football changes and Trent may push into midfield with Conor Bradley in that right-back position. It will be very interesting to see how Arne Slot views Trent’s position. Will he see him as a midfielder or a right-back? It is going to be so fascinating to see how he utilises Trent because we all know that his strengths lie in his passing and delivery into key areas.

The modern full-back role will soon revert back to how it was

Speaking more generally on the modern full-back role, Warnock suggested that he believes the position will soon go back to its more traditional form with the focus more on a defensive back four, stating that lots of players now are so technically gifted that they can’t nail down a position, citing Harvey Elliott and Cody Gakpo as examples.

The full-back role is so different now. Trent Alexander-Arnold looks so comfortable in that new role where he steps into midfield. I do think the full-back role will go back to how it used to be, though. It goes through cycles and we’ve seen that with formations. I think we’ll start to see teams going back to 4-3-3 because they want to be more solid, but not every team has someone who is capable of doing what Trent can.

Players are now so well-coached and technically good on the ball that we’re seeing players who just can’t nail down a specific position. Players like Cody Gakpo and Harvey Elliott spring to mind as two who make you think, what is their best position? I wouldn’t be sure where to play them to get the best out of them. I think that is something that we’re seeing more of now.

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