Conor Bradley’s performance against Chelsea should be enough to keep Trent Alexander-Arnold out of the Liverpool team to play Arsenal on Sunday, says Jamie Carragher.
Bradley only made his Premier League debut against Bournemouth on January 21, but impressed enough to retain his spot ahead of Alexander-Arnold against Chelsea on Wednesday night – where he scored one and made another two as Liverpool hammered Chelsea 4-1 at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s side now face one of their toughest tests of the season with a trip to Arsenal live on Super Sunday, with their title rivals boasting the third-best home record in the Premier League this season to date.
But former Liverpool captain Carragher believes 20-year-old Bradley deserves to rack up a sixth consecutive start in all competitions.
He told Sky Sports News: “The performances of Bradley gives Jurgen Klopp a real dilemma for what he does at the weekend. He’s got form, he’s got rhythm, but Liverpool have needed back-up for a long time. They’ve got that – and it might be a little bit more now.
“Look, Bradley’s a young player, he’s had a brilliant start, the rest of his career won’t go like this every week – there’s lots of ups and downs with injuries, loss of form, but he’s on a great ride at the moment and keep that momentum going. That’s why I think he should start at the weekend.
“A lot of people, myself included, have been saying for a long time that with Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, because he’s so good it’s difficult to bring someone in as back-up because they know they’re not going to pay.
“Another thing we always speak about with Trent, is will he eventually go into midfield? If Bradley keeps playing at the level he’s at, you have to start thinking about how to get both players in the team.
“You can’t leave a player of the quality of Trent Alexander-Arnold out, he’s one of the best players in the Premier League. That goes back to whether he moves into midfield, going forward.”
Should Alexander-Arnold start in midfield?
Despite Alexander-Arnold’s success in the hybrid midfield role developed by Klopp last year, Carragher believes the Liverpool boss should stick with the same trio which took apart Chelsea so comprehensively in midweek.
“I think the team played that well in that game, you keep the same team,” he said. “You look at the midfield, putting Trent in there could be a bigger picture, perhaps for the next manager.
“But the trio of Szoboszlai, Jones and Mac Allister was outstanding. There wasn’t anyone in the team who didn’t play well, and it’s very difficult to change the team on the back of a performance which was so good.
“But when you’re talking about Jurgen Klopp making a change to bring in a player of the quality of Trent, it shows how well Liverpool are doing right now.
Merson: Huge weekend for Arsenal
Sky Sports’ Paul Merson:
“Arsenal are challengers now. For years they haven’t been in title races, but that’s a different story.
“If they beat Liverpool on Sunday they are bang in with a chance of winning the title.
‘Signing a striker the hardest thing’
Sky Sports’ Paul Merson:
“It’s the hardest position in the world to try and get, a centre-forward. The one that was around was probably Ivan Toney but if it wasn’t going to happen on January 1 it was probably never going to be done this window.
“For me, they’ll go with what they have. It covers over the cracks when they put five past Crystal Palace.
“Against Nottingham Forest the other night, they absolutely dominated but were missing chance after chance.
“It comes down to this weekend [against Liverpool]. If they lose, they’re out of the title race. It’s a cup final.”
“He’ll get back into the team, he’s been one of Liverpool’s best players this season, and one of the best players in the league. But when the lad’s playing so well, his confidence is so high, I think it’s very difficult to leave him out.”
Would defeat rule Arsenal out of title race?
A Liverpool win would leave Arsenal eight points off the top of the table, and potentially six behind Manchester City if they were to win their game in hand.
That point deficit would leave the Gunners with an uphill task to win a first Premier League title in 20 years, though Carragher believes the blow to their confidence would be just as damaging to their hopes.
“It probably does [end their title chances],” he said. “Not just because of the points Liverpool and City will be in front, but psychologically – and Arsenal still have to go to the Etihad as well.
“It’d be difficult for Arsenal to believe they could win the league. They’re still having a great season, right up there with Liverpool and Manchester City, they’re the biggest challengers and still in the Champions League.
“There’s plenty for them to still play for, but it does feel like a huge game for Arsenal in terms of the title aspirations. If they win, it puts them right back in the mix – not necessarily favourites, but a loss would be a body blow.”
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