TalkSPORT pundit Gabriel Agbonlahor says the fact that Chelsea fullback Reece James is “better defensively” means he would choose him ahead of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold at international level.
Agbonlahor said that, while he feels that Trent is the best right-back in the world “on the ball”, the fact that James is only slightly worse in the final third of the pitch means the Blues defender should be favoured by England manager Gareth Southgate:
“I’d choose Reece James, only because he’s better defensively. If you say Trent Alexander-Arnold is a ten out of ten on the ball, Reece James is a nine out of ten so that’s enough that you need in that position that Reece James offers. Look at Reece James today, scored and assisted, he’s giving out assists and goals as well just like Trent Alexander-Arnold, but Reece James is a lot better defensively, he looks quicker as well.”
“His [Trent’s] all-round play has been amazing, ever since he made his debut to be honest. He’s been questioned about his defending but sometimes it’s harder to work on that than your natural ability on the ball and for me he’s the best right-back in the world on the ball but defensively it can sometimes let him down.”
To be perfectly honest, the vast majority of Liverpool supporters wouldn’t care if Alexander-Arnold doesn’t play another game for England but this criticism that he can’t defend has been regularly thrown out there by pundits.
As manager Jurgen Klopp said himself at the weekend, he wouldn’t even pick Alexander-Arnold as a fullback if he didn’t feel he was good enough defensively. The evidence suggests he is up to the challenge, with Liverpool having the third-best defensive record in the Premier League this season, conceding only 20 goals in 27 matches.