Alexander-Arnold: We have a big target on our backs
Liverpool begin their Premier League title defence at home to Leeds on Saturday, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 5.30pm
Last Updated: 10/09/20 11:39pm
Trent Alexander-Arnold says Liverpool will have a “big target” on their back this season and must adapt and improve if they are to defend their Premier League title.
Jurgen Klopp’s side begin the new campaign at home to newly-promoted Leeds United on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
The title has been successfully defended just once in the last decade and Alexander-Arnold is expecting a tougher challenge than last season, which saw the Reds finish 18 points clear of their nearest rivals Manchester City.
“For us it’s not about topping the points that we got or scoring more goals, it’s about if we can all develop as a team and keep winning,” Alexander-Arnold told Sky Sports News.
Liverpool vs Leeds
September 12, 2020, 5:00pm
“We need to keep that mentality, that is the main thing that helped us get this far.
“We know that there’s now a big target on our backs being the champions and teams are going to be extra motivated when they play us, so we need to match that mentality and take it to the next step.
“Winning it back-to-back is harder than winning it once.”
Alexander-Arnold was named PFA Young Player of the Year on Tuesday – the first Liverpool player to win the coveted individual award since Steven Gerrard in 2001.
The 21-year-old, who scored four goals and provided 13 assists in the Premier League last season, feels as though opponents became more wary of his attacking threat as the season progressed.
“Towards the second half of last season, or even the final quarter after everything that happened, I found it a little bit tougher to find the space and have that freedom,” said Alexander-Arnold.
“I found myself getting man-marked a few more times in games, which I wasn’t used to.
“When you pose a threat to the opposition, they look at it and try and stop it from happening. In my mind, if that’s happened to me it means that I’m doing something right.
“I can only try and keep doing that. Every season you’ve got to adapt and change your ways because everyone is improving. You can’t stay the same, you’ve got to keep improving.
“For me personally and for the team, we have to adapt to the new situation and adapt quickly.”
When asked what advice he would give to other young players hoping to emulate his achievements, Alexander-Arnold added: “I’d say don’t get fixated on other players.
“At that age it’s all about development – you can’t get attached on other players and what they’re doing and what they’re achieving at a different age.
“People hit their prime at 30 years old and some at 20 years old. No career is the same so you can’t judge yourself and compare yourself to other players.
“It’s about knowing what’s best for you, trying to find out what works for you as quick as possible and getting into routines. It’s those routines and habits that make good players.”
Young players can fill the void
Liverpool have made just one significant signing in the transfer window this summer, with Greek defender Kostas Tsimikas arriving at the club in a £11.75m move from Olympiakos.
Meanwhile, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana have left the club to join Zenit St Petersburg and Brighton respectively.
Alexander-Arnold says the current squad have enough experience to cope with their loss and believes himself and other young players can step up to the fill the void.
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“I’ve never really judged a player on his age and said if you’re under 21 you can’t be leader,” he added.
“Leadership comes in different shapes and sizes and forms, whether that be through actions or words.
“Two massive personalities and senior players have departed the club and we know those gaps probably need to be filled but there is more than enough players, we have a full squad of leaders.
“That won’t be a problem for us, we’ve got the players that will step up and make sure everyone is focused and doing the right thing on a day-to-day basis.”
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