England Dominates Malta As Alexander-Arnold Shines In Midfield
The formality of the match between England and Malta did not deter Trent Alexander-Arnold from giving manager Gareth Southgate a lot to ponder. The Liverpool star played in midfield, showcasing his versatility and potential for the national team.
Southgate will have learned little he did not already know as England won 4-0 to continue what looks like an easy stroll towards qualification for Euro 2024 in Germany next summer. This is their third win out of three matches in qualifying, with North Macedonia up next at Old Trafford on Monday.
Alexander-Arnold’s Position Switch
The pre-game buzz was all about Southgate’s decision to play Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield. It was a position that he has only briefly flirted with before, with mixed results on the international stage.
Last season, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp moved Alexander-Arnold away from right-back into a more advanced role after noticing his defensive weaknesses were being increasingly targeted by opponents. These flaws meant that Alexander-Arnold never convinced Southgate he should be used at right-back for England even though Reece James, Kieran Trippier, and Kyle Walker were preferred instead despite arguably lacking his natural gifts. Hence why he only got 33 minutes at the World Cup as a substitute against Wales.
Southgate always had it in mind that Alexander-Arnold could figure well in midfield – now we can see why! With Klopp also deciding to use him there regularly at Anfield this season too, it seems like both club and country will reap rewards from this positional change.
Alexander Arnold Stars Against Malta
This game offered the ideal platform for Trent Alexander-Arnold to showcase his talents as England strolled past a gallant Malta side who were no match for them. Alexander-Arnold was given the freedom any midfield creator would crave, and he did not disappoint.
Alexander-Arnold’s world-class range of short and long passing combined with his clinical striking ability makes him such a threat at set-pieces and in open play – which he proved with a superb hit for England’s second goal. He picked out the top corner with a perfect finish after 28 minutes, giving Malta goalkeeper Henry Bonello no chance.
This came after an excellent long pass delivered perfectly disguised with ideal weight had set Bukayo Saka free on the right flank. His cross got turned into an own goal by Malta’s Ferdianando Apap, giving England an early lead just eight minutes into the game!
The Liverpool star also played his part in the build-up to England’s third goal-a penalty that gave Harry Kane his 56th international goal (his 50th in competitive matches) after being fouled.
All this must be framed by the fact that Alexander-Arnold was playing against a team many rungs below England on footballing hierarchy ladder; hence Southgate needs to consider if Trent will integrate well into English squad given his regular use of two holding midfield players- Declan Rice alongside either Kalvin Phillips or Jordan Henderson-with Jude Bellingham likely starting too!
It remains to be seen whether Alexander-Arnold can bring consistency to this position over time, but what is beyond question is that he has already shown us all proof that he can deliver quality from both advanced and deeper positions!