Trent Alexander-Arnold’s recent performances have drawn plenty of criticism but the Liverpool defender insists he “always tries to think positively” after netting a sublime free-kick in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Rangers in the Champions League.
The 23-year-old was omitted from Gareth Southgate’s England bench in the last Nations League game against Germany after coming under fire during a poor spell of form.
But Alexander-Arnold provided a reminder of his brilliance with a stunning free-kick to give Jurgen Klopp’s side the lead against the Scottish club in Group A.
That moment of magic will spark another debate on whether he should go to the World Cup with the Three Lions, but Alexander-Arnold stresses that performing for the team is his only focus.
“The performance was great from the lads,” he told BT Sport.
Saturday [a 3-3 draw with Brighton] was disappointing. We never got going, our press wasn’t there, we were slow out the blocks. But it’s the complete opposite today [Tuesday]. We started well and continued throughout the game.
“They had their spells and the second half was tough but overall we played outstanding.
“No matter what, I always try to think positively. People say things but for me it’s all about performing for the team. That’s all that matters, getting wins and helping the team. It’s been a slow start to the season for me but I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
His team-mate Jordan Henderson was full of praise for Alexander-Arnold’s defensive know-how, which has come into question of late.
“You’ve got to give Trent a license to get forward and produce what he can produce up the pitch,” Henderson said.
“I thought he was good defensively tonight, he did the basics really well. I didn’t have to cover too much.
“It can be difficult. You try to not listen to social media especially when you go through a tough period as an individual or a team.
“You’ve got to switch off the noise and focus on what you do day-to-day and stay focused on what we’re trying to achieve as a team. That’s not easy. It can hurt players at times but you’ve got to try and find a way to use it as fuel and energy on the pitch.”
Klopp made a tactical change in response to Saturday’s draw with Brighton and the Liverpool boss believes the tweak paid off defensively.
Asked about Alexander-Arnold’s defensive showing, he said: “There is no problem with defending, in good moments everything is fine, if there is no protection it looks like he is exposed. We changed it a little bit today.
“We expected a reaction – everyone expected a reaction – we really want to turn this into a positive and for that we need consistency. For that, you need top-class defending and we had that tonight. It worked out pretty well.”
A stuttering run of form domestically has left Liverpool ninth in the Premier League with only two wins from their opening seven games, and Klopp admits victory over Rangers was a relief.
“It was exactly what we needed tonight,” said the Liverpool boss.
“A new formation, we had to change things. We had plenty of chances, imagine if we had taken more of them. Really good game. Very important.
“Unlucky in moments offensively, rock solid defensively apart from the very end. It will be a different game next week.”
At the halfway stage, Liverpool are second in Group A with six points, three behind Napoli, who thrashed Ajax 6-1.