Trent Alexander-Arnold during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Fulham at Anfield, Liverpool, May 2023.

The staggering Premier League table since Jurgen Klopp first moved TAA into midfield

Liverpool have enjoyed a stunning turnaround over the past year, dramatically transforming from an underperforming side to arguably the best in the country again – and the moment of their revival can be pinpointed back to one specific game.

Cast your mind back to the Premier League clash between Liverpool and Arsenal in April. Mikel Arteta’s Gunners raced out of the traps, went two goals up, and looked as though they’d be marching to the title with a long-awaited first win at Anfield in over a decade.

But Jurgen Klopp’s side responded admirably, producing an excellent display after a tactical tweak saw Trent Alexander-Arnold moved into midfield.

Mohamed Salah got Liverpool back into the contest on the stroke of half-time and they went on to dominate the second half, eventually getting a much-deserved equaliser through Roberto Firmino in the dying minutes. In fact, only an Aaron Ramsdale masterclass and a fluffed Ibrahima Konate chance in injury time denied Klopp’s men all three points.

It was a fine and encouraging display, but few could have predicted it would signal a wholesale change in fortunes. After all, Liverpool had already flattered to deceive in their 9-0 victory over Bournemouth and 7-0 victory over Manchester United, punctuating what was otherwise their worst full season of Klopp’s tenure. The result had left them eighth, 12 points off the top four.

Alexander-Arnold has established a reputation as one of the most creative full-backs in the history of the competition, but his defensive lapses were becoming harder to ignore as Liverpool toiled in midtable last term.

But the Reds saw an instant improvement in results since he moved the England international into central midfield. He’d been instrumental in the draw against Arsenal and has been one of Liverpool’s standout players consistently ever since.

“If Trent plays midfield, he probably saves Liverpool £100m,” Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports viewers during a late-season victory over Brentford that once-unthinkably moved Liverpool to within touching distance of Champions League challengers Manchester United and Newcastle.

“His role from midfield in the second half against Arsenal was almost like a Steven Gerrard performance, where he was a bit everywhere and there was a lot of running involved,” Carragher added.

“Trent has provided quality from an unconventional full-back position – he plays the role differently. But, for me, watching him in midfield, getting more involved, running the game, I think this is almost perfect for him.

“I don’t really care where Trent is on a team sheet. I want to see him on the ball [in the region highlighted below] because, if he’s on the ball in those areas, whether he’s playing midfield, full-back, wing-back, or on the right of a midfield three, there are very few players in world of football who could match him.

“Klopp and Liverpool have to find a way [to utilise his strengths], as they have done for the last four or five years as a full-back. If that position isn’t working this season, then as a midfield player. Your job as coaching staff is to make sure you get that man on the ball.”

Following the Arsenal draw, in which Alexander-Arnold played the remainder of the campaign in midfield, Liverpool remained unbeaten, taking 23 points from 27 available, only just missing out on Champions League qualification.

Alexander-Arnold, for the most part, has moved back to his traditional right-back role in 2023-24, following Liverpool’s big summer midfield rebuild. But the club are once again seeing the best of his crossing and playmaking abilities as he drifts into dangerous areas.

Liverpool are closing in on a full season’s worth of games since that Arsenal draw, and in that time they’ve taken more points than any other side. Only the champions Manchester City are anywhere near them – since that Sunday in April they’ve taken a whopping 17 more points than Arsenal.

In that time, Liverpool have won 21 of 31 Premier League matches, and lost just once – with nine men against Tottenham, courtesy of Joel Matip’s injury-time own goal.

Here’s how the Premier League table stacks up in full since Alexander-Arnold was first moved into midfield last season. Note: we’ve only included the 17 sides that have been in the Premier League throughout that time.

1. Liverpool – 72pts (played 31)
2. Man City – 65pts (played 29)
3. Aston Villa – 57pts (played 29)
4. Arsenal – 55pts (played 30)
5. Manchester United – 51pts (played 30)
6. Brighton – 47pts, GD +8 (played 30)
7. Tottenham – 47pts, GD +7 (played 29)
8. West Ham – 45pts (played 30)
9. Newcastle – 44pts (played 30)
10. Brentford – 38pts, +1 GD (played 28)
11. Wolves – 38pts, -10 gd (played 28)
12. Fulham – 37pts (played 30)
13. Chelsea – 36pts, -3 GD (played 29)
14. Crystal Palace – 36pts, -6 GD (played 30)
15. Everton – 36pts, -7 GD (played 29)
16. Bournemouth – 34pts (played 28)
17. Nottingham Forest – 31pts (played 29)

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