Liverpool legend John Barnes says Jurgen Klopp’s midfield is to blame for Trent Alexander-Arnold’s poor form this season.
The England international has had some good games this season but he’s made a number of mistakes leading to goals, while his attacking contributions have also suffered.
Alexander-Arnold, who has scored three goals in 12 matches, has yet to contribute an assist for Liverpool this season after providing 12 last term.
He was criticised again on Sunday for his defending for Arsenal’s second goal as Liverpool lost 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium.
But Barnes thinks the lack of protection Liverpool’s back four get from midfielders is the “problem” rather than Alexander-Arnold.
Barnes told BonusCodeBets: “Liverpool and their defenders have played in a particular way the last four years with Mane Firmino and Salah. The three midfield players are three hard working individual players.
“Now with Thiago and Harvey Elliot and people like that, the midfield isn’t as defensively strong which means that they can’t defend the back four and Trent as much as they used to.
“Trent is still coming forward, he’s never been in a team for his defensive qualities but it’s more to do with the fact that I don’t believe the midfield is strong enough to protect the back four. Which is why teams are now getting to Liverpool.
“It’s not Trent’s problem because it was the way that he formulated a strategy to play with Trent as an attacker in midfield but expect others to defend. It’s not that the team and Trent has changed, they’re just going through a few teething problems. I don’t see Trent as an issue in that team, he’ll sort it out.”
Darwin Nunez scored his second Premier League goal of the season against Arsenal at the weekend and, despite a slow start, Barnes thinks he is a “great signing”.
Barnes added: “He’s been a great signing. You can talk about whether he should be playing or not but Liverpool have to give him confidence and confidence doesn’t mean leaving him out. He played well, he scored goals, he created chances.
“It’s difficult for him as he’s come into a Liverpool team that isn’t playing as well as it was. Whereas Haaland has come into a Manchester City team that’s playing well. If Liverpool was playing as well as they had in previous years, Nunez would be much better. I was pleased for him that he was one of the shining lights.”
Mo Salah has been struggling to find the back of net this season but Barnes reckons the Liverpool forward has to “get used” to playing with Nunez.
Barnes continued: “Salah has to get used to playing as a centre-forward, when he was playing with Firmino who is a withdrawn centre-forward, Mo Salah scores goals by making runs from out to in into a vacated space where there’s no centre-forward.
“Now they’ve got Nunez who’s a centre-forward, so the way that Mo is going to play has got to be different. He can’t play the way he did with Firmino, so he has to get used to that. It’s a transitional period in the way that they’re changing the way they play slightly so everybody has to get used to it.
“Mo will be fine, he’s finding his feet in terms of playing in a new system and a new style but that might mean he won’t score as many goals. Where you’ve got a new centre-forward like Nunez who’s got to be the main goal-scorer, he should be, it means Mo will score less goals. He will still be effective but he will score less goals because of the way he plays.”