Follow Aston Villa vs Liverpool on the Sky Sports website and app with our live commentary from 1.30pm; kick-off 3pm. Then watch highlights from 5.15pm.
Saturday 2 November 2019 17:36, UK
Trent Alexander-Arnold may have only turned 21 last month but he will make his 100th appearance for Liverpool if he's selected against Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon. It's been a rapid rise - but there's no doubting his importance to the team now...
"He's so young and already so experienced."
Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for Alexander-Arnold when he was asked about his right-back in Friday's press conference - and in the three years since his debut the local lad has had plenty of outstanding moments.
From two Champions League finals to a Premier League title tilt and numerous individual honours, Alexander-Arnold has become a key figure for the Reds…
"It's a wonderful story for different reasons," said Klopp. "I know in Liverpool everyone is desperate for having a scouse hero and making his way through to the first team.
"I wish for him he can stay healthy, stay fit and then the future is bright for him and for us.
"It's a fantastic story. He's a great role model - and the way he deals with that role is exceptional. It's a pleasure to work with him. That's the best thing I can say about a player."
The numbers highlight just how impactful Alexander-Arnold has been for Liverpool. While he was a fixture in the meanest defence last season, it is when Liverpool are on the front foot that Alexander-Arnold really excels.
The only other full-back to come close to his tally of 12 assists last season was his team-mate Andrew Robertson, while this season Alexander-Arnold is streets ahead when it comes to chances created among players in his position.
He's set up 37 chances for Liverpool in 2019/20 - that's more than any player in any position.
|Kevin De Bruyne
Alexander-Arnold strikes the ball better than most and with his combination of corner-kicks and open-play crosses, he's launched the ball into the opposition penalty area 110 times. The next best in the Premier League is Everton's Lucas Digne with 84.
This is a young player driving Liverpool's attacking play - from full-back.
"The difference with Trent is, I don't think we've seen a full-back like him before," Jamie Carragher said this week on the Kings of the Premier League show. "It's not just a case of bombing up and down the line and getting crosses in, he's actually a playmaker from the full-back position.
He is the most creative player for the European champions. And that is something to say about a full-back, let alone someone who is only 21.
"There's no doubt he could play in midfield, but I've played full-back - I'm certainly not at the level of Trent - and you get a lot of the ball because you're always the free man. If anything is tight in midfield, they play it to the full-back.
"He gets so much of the ball, it would be a waste to play him anywhere else, unless Liverpool had another amazing right-back and were short in midfield.
"But, where he plays now, he is the most creative player for the European champions. And that is something to say about a full-back, let alone someone who is only 21."
Alexander-Arnold joined the Liverpool academy as a six-year-old and was always considered a shining light in the youth teams as he progressed through the age groups.
His big breakthrough into the first team came in October 2016 when Klopp made 11 changes to his starting line-up for a fourth round League Cup tie with Tottenham.
Alexander-Arnold played 68 minutes of the 2-1 victory and, although there was a rash challenge on Ben Davies which earned him a yellow card, there was also plenty of evidence of the traits which would go on to mark him out as a special talent - his athleticism, his technique, his attacking ambition.
Alexander-Arnold was barely 18 but he took that Anfield bow in his stride and, by January, had convinced Klopp with his performances in training to throw him in at the deep end - a first Premier League start away to Manchester United. Again, he rose to the occasion.
Firsts don't mean fear for Alexander-Arnold and that was underlined when he capped his European debut with a fine goal from a free-kick.
Up against Hoffenheim in a Champions League qualifier, more senior figures, Emre Can and Alberto Moreno, were keen on a crack at goal themselves when Liverpool won a free-kick 30 yards from goal. But Alexander-Arnold had the confidence to push his own case and justified that self-belief by bending his shot over the wall and into the bottom corner.
The strike was the realisation of a childhood dream for Alexander-Arnold, who celebrated emphatically, and set Liverpool on course for a 2-1 win in Germany and a place in the Champions League group stages.
The focus on Alexander-Arnold routinely fixes onto his remarkable attacking contributions but in April 2018 his defensive ability was put to the test by Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final first leg.
Alexander-Arnold was the youngest player to start a tie at that stage of the competition but delivered a man-of-the-match performance in Liverpool's blistering 3-0 win.
City - who scored 106 goals in the Premier League that season - didn't manage a single shot on target. Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling were all kept at bay, with Alexander-Arnold delivering an immense display.
One year later, Alexander-Arnold produced a moment that will be replayed for years to come.
"Pure genius". "The most incredible moment in the history of the Champions League". "The cheekiest thing that has ever happened on a football pitch".
Klopp wasn't the only one rolling out the plaudits for the instinctive brilliance of Alexander-Arnold after he caught Barcelona off guard with a quick corner.
After spotting the visitors were sleeping, Alexander-Arnold rolled the ball into the area and set up Divock Origi to complete Liverpool's incredible 4-0 win and seal their epic comeback in last season's semi-final tie.
Twelve months after experiencing defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final, Alexander-Arnold helped Liverpool go one better in the 2019 final, beating Tottenham 2-0 in the Spanish capital.
"I'm just a normal lad from Liverpool whose dreams have come true," he said at the final whistle.
What will next 100 appearances for his beloved Liverpool hold?
Follow Aston Villa v Liverpool on the Sky Sports website and app with our live commentary from 1.30pm; kick-off 3pm. Then watch highlights from 5.15pm.