The news that the Liverpool star is the highest-rated England player in Euro 2024 qualifying came via WhoScored prior to the game in Skopje, which will have delighted Trent Alexander-Arnold’s midfield peddlers. He has scored an extremely remarkable 8.08 in three starts. No other player from England ever came close.
It would be challenging to categorize Alexander-Arnold as being crucial to England’s progress, though. He only made three starts, both at home and away against North Macedonia and Malta, therefore the rating is deceptive. He refrained from playing in matches against Ukraine or Italy, who were actually their real qualifying opponents. Against mediocrity, Alexander-Arnold thrived.
After Friday’s victory over Malta, he was one of the two players that Gareth Southgate singled out for praise, and with good reason. Alexander-Arnold will always be able to choose a pass and control the action when he has time and space on the ball. However, the England manager acknowledged that his team “didn’t extend themselves” in the match because they didn’t have to. Trent was deemed wanting on this occasion, unlike when they played North Macedonia at Old Trafford, where the same was true.
Alexander-Arnold stated this week that he is still learning on the job because he hasn’t got much experience in central midfield; on Monday, he made it evident. He demonstrated why, given his existing educational background, he probably shouldn’t be selected for the German team at the first significant sign of strain in the role he aspires to be selected for at Euro 2024. He performed as if he were an amateur.
He gave up the ball five times, which is three more than any other England player and more than any other player present on the field. He appeared to be unsure of his position, moved slowly when in possession, and offered Declan Rice very little assistance when North Macedonia surged ahead.
He once sank low to retrieve the ball from Jordan Pickford as his frustration mounted in the second half. He then mishandled a crossfield pass to the opposition, got possession back a short while later, only to give it up again in the final 15 seconds of play, capping off a forgettable game for his midfield development. Shortly before being substituted, he threw the ball away, possibly in resentment over both the referee’s decision to disqualify him and his own play. For this, he received a yellow card.
Alexander-Arnold’s development shouldn’t go on after this showing in a significant competition. When the draw is done early in the next month, the teams who are grouped with England will all be superior than North Macedonia. And James Ward-Prowse would undoubtedly be a stronger choice for England against those elite sides than a right-back occupying a midfield position.
The set-piece delivery would not be harmed in any way by Ward-Prowse starting ahead of Alexander-Arnold. Perhaps more importantly, though, because of the pressure he experienced during open play on Monday, the Liverpool star’s awareness from dead-ball situations wasn’t exactly on point either, as England scored from the first corner he missed after three failed attempts. The crossing of Alexander-Arnold is still superb, even though Phil Foden is a gifted player who could easily replace him.
No player’s rating on Monday was worse than Alexander-Arnold’s 6.1, with the exception of Rico Lewis, whose acceptance of the penalty that wasn’t threw off a lot of the data. At the first indication of pressure, proceed from highest to lowest; Trent should play right-back if he is heading to Germany.