Gareth Southgate once said that he’d like to pick six right backs in his England squads because of the position’s depth. A look at the attacking statistics in the Premier League this season demonstrates why. Reece James, Chelsea’s right back, has four league goals, the most of any player in England’s current squad. Who has the most assists in the team? Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool, who has four assists, is another right back. On Sunday, he also scored with an exquisite free kick against West Ham. Then there’s Kyle Walker, a third right back who epitomizes consistency and is in arguably his best form of his career at Manchester City. So, how did England become so stacked in one area? The answer could be found in the influx of foreign ‘super coaches,’ who bring new ideas to the Premier League and transform the role of the full back into one that attacks as well as defends. Suddenly, it’s a thrilling position to start for a youth player.
In such circumstances, it is only natural for a player to face stiff competition, even if they are a well-known name who plays for a top-tier club. When it comes to this specific defensive position, it is an understatement to say that both England and Southgate are spoiled for choice. As a result, even after Trent was named to the squad for the upcoming friendly, many people believe he is not getting the credit he deserves. Our No.66’s lack of game time has sparked heated debate among Liverpool and England fans, with many pundits calling for the Liverpool-born defender to be given more caps.
The England manager has an undoubted selection headache, with Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Reece James, Tino Livramento, Tariq Lamptey, and Max Aarons listed as his current right-back options. He also commented on the loss of Matty Cash to Poland (the omission of Aaron Wan-Bissaka from the list was telling too). “They have to defend well, first and foremost,” the ex-Middlesbrough manager said when asked what the Scousers in our team need to do to get into his team. “That’s the bedrock of our team, and we’ve only conceded five goals in 18 matches, so defensively we haven’t been doing a lot wrong.” The lack of opportunity for the man widely regarded as the best right-back in the world appears to be due to the 51-year-old international manager’s lack of defensive trust in him. His best feature is undoubtedly his delivery into the box and wide range of passing, but it does not appear to be enough to earn him a place in his national team.
After all is said and done, it appears that Southgate is firm in his demands of his players. One cannot seriously question his capabilities or choices in light of the results his team has achieved under his direction. Nonetheless, it would be in England’s best interests if he could look past Trent Alexander Arnold’s flaws and include him in the Starting 11, because we all know what a devastating player he is. Southgate will have to accept the truth in front of him, whether he likes it or not, when his terrifying potential reaches its full potency.