Alexander-Arnold up for it against Rashford

Old Trafford staged what Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold describes as one of the hardest moments of his career last March.
Old Trafford staged what Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold describes as one of the hardest moments of his career last March.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Two-time World Cup winner Cafu recently reminded Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, 20, not to get "big-headed".

But Liverpool and England need not worry about his ego, after he recounted his uncomfortable afternoon in Manchester last season.

Old Trafford, where Jurgen Klopp's team head in search of the Premier League leadership today, staged what Alexander-Arnold describes as one of the hardest moments of his career last March.

That day Jose Mourinho tasked Romelu Lukaku with disturbing Liverpool's central defence with his physicality and Marcus Rashford with tormenting the young right-back with his pace. Both delivered, Rashford scoring twice inside 24 minutes from Manchester United's left flank and shaping the contest.

It was a day of despair for the boyhood Liverpool fan, but it also served as motivation for a player who would go on to feature in the World Cup for England before his teenage years were over.

"I still use that game as a learning point," Alexander-Arnold says. "That is probably the best thing to do; look back on the harder games you've had, the tougher games, learn what I didn't do well and what I could have done better.

"The Manchester United game was definitely one of those games.

"But, rather than let it get me down, or put me down and think that maybe I am not good enough at this level, it was important to use it as a positive and see it as a learning step to improve.

"I needed to use it as motivation to make sure something like that doesn't happen again and to prove that you are better than you showed on that day."

Tuesday's Champions League stalemate with Bayern Munich was Alexander-Arnold's first competitive start since Jan 12.

His return is timely for Klopp, Liverpool's title prospects and for the opportunity to gauge his development against Rashford at Old Trafford 11 months on.

Rashford has been in outstanding form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with six goals in 12 appearances for United's caretaker manager, and Alexander-Arnold's respect for the striker runs deep.

"He is a fantastic player and someone who has got bags of potential," the defender admits. "I am sure he will keep up his good form and it will be a good battle for whoever is up against him."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 24, 2019, with the headline 'Alexander-Arnold up for it against Rashford'. Print Edition | Subscribe