Euro 2020 football - Paul Parker: Kieran Trippier is a better England defender than Trent Alexander-Arnold
With the inclusion of four right-backs in the Euro 2020 squad by England manager Gareth Southgate, former Manchester United and England defender Paul Parker appraised the various options available and concluded that Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker are more reliable options compared to Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold of England look on during the UEFA Nations League group stage match between Denmark and England at Parken Stadium on September 08, 2020 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
You don’t need four right-backs. It’s not about where Trent Alexander-Arnold can play, it’s whether they’re good enough to play in that position for England. There’s a reason that he plays at full-back for Liverpool and not in midfield.
Is he good enough to play in midfield for his country? Is he good enough to do that for England? No. It’s not a problem particular to Alexander-Arnold, as it’s true for Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker and Reece James as well.
I wonder if Southgate has decided to avoid a big decision, and compensated against the pressure by deciding to take all four of them. I think it’s because of the media circus that he has wanted to avoid, after the whole dispute earlier in the season over his inclusion.
Trippier is defensively better than Alexander-Arnold. He gets forward well and can deliver decent crosses. As well as that, Walker has already shown that he is adaptable and is also a title winner. For Alexander-Arnold, he doesn’t appear to defend with any appetite and doesn’t seem keen to get back and defend.
If you ask a modern-day centre-back what they want from a full-back, they’ll say it’s someone to cover them and fill in holes when they're moved out of position. You want someone to cover that hole, and if someone runs off you into a wide area, they don't want their full-back stuck upfield worrying about their crosses.
They'll want a defender who can respect teammates who might need their help. This season was the chance for Alexander-Arnold to do that while Liverpool have been swapping central defenders, young defenders, all season, and he hasn’t been there regularly for his teammates at the club.
Southgate is taking risks with his squad
As for the rest of the squad, there are hardly any surprises. The ones left out don’t make you think the country is missing out. Another England manager might choose to leave behind Jordan Henderson because of his injury problems, and that’s a bit of a worry in general.
Nobody knows anything about Harry Maguire’s ankle. He was never fit enough for the Europa League final. Southgate has left himself open there, especially with Henderson, who has had no game time at all. You can’t bung him into a match with no game time, but he might need another defensive midfielder. Kalvin Philips, too, has a problem with his shoulder, and you worry if that could pop out again if it doesn’t fully heal.
I’m not sure if Southgate will play three or four at the back. I think he could do three to get everyone in with the wing-backs. Tyrone Mings could be an option, but when he’s at Aston Villa he’s getting caught out at times. He won’t want to play four at the back with Conor Coady. If Maguire isn’t fit, they would go Stones, Coady, Mings. People won’t be happy with that, and it definitely sticks out at a weakness.
Stones has had a very good season and lifted himself out of a precarious position, and Maguire has done well for United but you see issues. This is top-flight European competition, and I really don’t know how he’s going to set up. It’s a minefield defensively and there is no naturally left-sided centre-back.
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