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Liverpool don’t need Alexander-Arnold and other 2024 adjustments

Liverpool don’t need Alexander-Arnold and other 2024 adjustments

Everyone was convinced of these requirements for Premier League teams in 2023, but 2024 has shown they can do perfectly well without, thank you very much.

Arsenal need a goalscorer

“I don’t think Arsenal can win the league with the squad they’ve got now unless they buy in January. A striker.”

A Jamie Carragher quote, but near enough everyone agreed that Mikel Arteta’s side did not have the consistent goalscorer they needed to stay the course with Manchester City this season.

Arsenal managed to buck an age-old trend in winning while not playing particularly well being seen as a negative by the majority of pundits, who pointed either to Kai Havertz or the lack of ‘a proper No.9’ as the reasons they would come up short. Ivan Toney became the striker to Arsenal equivalent of Xabi Alonso to Liverpool, with it apparently impossible to conceive of a different outcome, even after Brentford slapped a ludicrous price tag on his head.

Arsenal have scored 21 goals in their five Premier League games this year, and just one of those goals was scored by ‘a proper No.9’, if we’re counting Gabriel Jesus as such.

The question mark over signing Toney or an alternative focal point would be whether it would take something away from Arsenal’s dynamism and fluidity in attack, and it’s become pretty clear over the last few games that an on-song trio of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Leandro Trossard is about as good as it gets.

They weren’t in form before Christmas and now they are. Was it really that simple?

Chelsea need Thiago Silva

‘Pochettino should be doing everything possible to make Chelsea more of a threat, and although the dearth of experience is a huge problem, Silva’s voice – backed by well over 500 senior appearances at the top of the game – is having little effect while his ageing body has too much of one.’

Loath though we are to blow our own trumpet, that was our take back in September after the centre-back’s costly mistake in defeat to Aston Villa. He’s started 16 of 18 Premier League games since, to choruses of acclaim by commentators and co-commentators alike, who rarely get through a Chelsea game without a cliched comparison with a particular luxury British motor car, while analysis of Silva amid the Blues’ defensive woes has been conspicuous by its absence, as his legendary status has seen him lifted to a pedestal above accountability.

Until now. Carragher said “the days of Thiago Silva playing at Chelsea have got to come to an end” after the draw with Manchester City before the pundit even more brazenly likened Axel Disasi to John Terry. And while we will take a beat or two before comparing any current Chelsea centre-back with the greatest in the club’s history, we agree that it’s time to move on from Silva. Or rather, Carragher agrees with us.

Rasmus Hojlund needs an experienced striker
The burden was too much. It was unreasonable to expect a 20-year-old striker to be the Manchester United striker. Billed as the new Erling Haaland, Rasmus Hojlund wasn’t the new Erling Haaland. He needed a shoulder to lean (or cry) on – a been-there-and-done-it striker who could play a bit-part role for six months and take some of the pressure off. Hojlund’s got the talent but needs time and space to breathe.

Errrm, actually, he is the new Erling Haaland. And though it would have been lovely to see Karim Benzema in the Premier League, he would not have taken kindly to a backseat, meaning he would currently either be sulking from the bench and undoing all the hard work done to rebuild the fractured dressing room, or he would be playing and stunting Hojlund’s development. A bullet dodged, if anything.

Rasmus Hojlund, Manchester United, February 2024

Rasmus Hojlund’s hit his stride for Manchester United.

Liverpool need Trent Alexander-Arnold
Even if the Liverpool fans’ experience of seeing Conor Bradley in action wasn’t limited to Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat to Union Saint-Gilloise – in which he was the worst of seven kids – they would have been concerned at the impact of Alexander-Arnold’s injury on their title challenge.

At the age of 25 Alexander-Arnold’s got the third most Liverpool assists in Premier League history, behind Steven Gerrard (92) and Mohamed Salah (67), and while that creation rate is down this season as a result of system tweaks and greater midfield involvement in Liverpool’s build-up play, no-one could doubt his influence on the team, with late goals against Manchester City and Fulham in consecutive games the conspicuous – and crucial – contributions.

But they need not have worried. Conor Bradley has arguably been the Premier League’s best right-back in the absence of the guy who has been either at the top or very near the top of that particular pecking order for the last five seasons. Liverpool’s best XI as things stand includes both of them. Could Alexander-Arnold become a Xabi Alonso regen under Xabi Alonso?

Manchester City need Erling Haaland
Two goals in his last six Premier League games. 2.05 points per game when he starts; 2.67 when he doesn’t. Fraudland.

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