Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists Trent Alexander-Arnold has nothing to prove to England boss Gareth Southgate after the full-back capped an eventful week with an added-time winner against Aston Villa.
After six-successive defeats, Klopp’s side registered their first home Premier League win in four months as they recovered from going behind to Ollie Watkins’ opener with Mohamed Salah scoring his 19th league goal of the season and the first from open play at Anfield in 2021 after a drought of almost 13 hours.
But it was Alexander-Arnold, who had starred in the win against Arsenal last weekend but erred in the midweek Champions League defeat to Real Madrid having been left out of Southgate’s squad for recent World Cup qualifiers, who stole the headlines with a fearsome strike for only his second of the campaign to make it 2-1 at the death.
The goal secured the club’s 2,000th Premier League point, a feat only achieved by Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, and Klopp’s 100th victory at Anfield in all competitions.
But Klopp would rather keep the focus on the football rather than Alexander-Arnold, who was watched by Southgate on Saturday afternoon.
“Life is like this, football is like this. He played a top game against Arsenal and today. Real Madrid, we don’t have to hide that, the second goal, of course (he was at fault for),” said Klopp.
“He just has to play football. Nothing to do with national team, just to develop. That is what he is doing.
“I don’t think Trent is in a situation where he has to prove himself at this level. He has to challenge himself but not because of the national team but because as a young player he has to challenge himself.
“To be in the squad of England you have to play outstandingly good football. Trent did this very often from a very young age.
“It is not as if he is not playing good. Just don’t talk about it, talk about the game but leave the rest aside.”
Victory put pressure on Chelsea – playing in the late kick-off – as well as the likes of West Ham, Tottenham and Everton who all harbour hopes of a top-four finish.
And it was the perfect boost ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final second-leg visit of Real in which Liverpool will attempt to overturn a 3-1 deficit.
“We have to challenge ourselves, we have to put pressure on other teams,” added the Reds boss.
“If we want to reach the Champions League spots and we are in a worse position than others we have to chase them constantly and put them under pressure and we can only do that by winning games.”
Villa boss Dean Smith felt his side deserved more out of the game having coped with the early storm from their hosts.
“After 30 minutes I didn’t feel unlucky, I felt fortunate to be 0-0,” he said.
“We didn’t start well and made mistakes in our defensive third and enabled them to put an awful lot of pressure on us.
“Thanks to poor finishing from them and good defending from us we managed to stay at 0-0 and then we scored a good goal just before half-time.
“I don’t think Emi (goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez) was troubled as much (in the second half) as he was in the first half.
“We’re disappointed not to come away with something.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe