Jurgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool, has admitted that Trent Alexander-Arnold has struggled this season, but that the same can be said for the vast majority of his squad as they battle to qualify for the Champions League
With hopes of finishing in the top four dwindling by the week – Liverpool are 10 points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal heading into Sunday’s clash at Anfield – the Europa League or even the Europa Conference League would be a likely consolation.
Given the rigors of any UEFA competition’s midweek rigors, a year without European football could benefit the Reds and their rebuilding process, but Klopp will not consider that until Liverpool’s fate is decided.
“It’s not about what I could think about; it’s about what we get.” “I’m not sure where we’ll end up,” he admitted.
“All I know is that we must go through this.” That’s all I know, and then there will be a new beginning because it’s a new season.
“But until then, we have to go through this, which is obviously a huge challenge in this (modern) world.”
“Imagine if we lost the next ten games and I still sat here and said, ‘Next season, we’ll turn it around,’ or whatever.”
“It’s difficult to imagine that happening, but theoretically, it could happen here in Liverpool.”
“If we truly want to go through this, we must accept what happens afterwards.”
“As a result, the lower we finish this season, the easier it will be to improve next year.” Is it sufficient? I’m not sure. But that isn’t the point right now.
“We don’t care if we’re in the top six, top four, or whatever. We have to be concerned with the next game and win it, and we are capable of doing so.”
Klopp made six changes for the drab 0-0 draw at Chelsea in midweek, omitting Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
While Salah, like the rest of the squad, has fallen short of his usual high standards, he has not faced the scrutiny that Alexander-Arnold has faced as a defender.
With Virgil van Dijk (rested) and Andy Robertson (rested) set to return to the back four, Klopp may stick with Joe Gomez at right-back against Arsenal.
However, he stressed that this should not be interpreted as making Alexander-Arnold a talking point once more.
The manager described the full-performance back’s this season as “not as good or consistent as he used to be, like pretty much all of the boys.”
“Do you think I’m going to say he had a world-class season and then leave him out?” That is illogical.
“Nobody performed at the level we saw and know they are capable of.”
“Of course, in moments. Great games, fantastic games, fantastic situations, but nobody consistently, no. Not so much for him.”