Football News

“He defends less” — Reece James explains the key difference between his game and Trent Alexander-Arnold’s

By Ben Green

Published: 13:22, 12 June 2022

Reece James has leapt to the defence of Trent Alexander-Arnold by elaborating on how their respective games differ as both players vie for a starting berth at right-back for England.

There has been a raging debate about who England’s starting No. 2 should be, with manager Gareth Southgate blessed with an embarrassment of riches at right-back, not least Chelsea’s James and Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold.

Both offer the Three Lions an abundance of attacking qualities, but there are discernible differences in their games, with James the more physically-imposing and defensively stable No. 2, while Alexander-Arnold’s forward-thinking traits are of a world-class standing.

Southgate has drawn criticism for largely overlooking Alexander-Arnold in the past, with the 23-year-old establishing himself as one of the most important cogs in Jurgen Klopp’s well-oiled system at Anfield, creating more chances than any other player in the Premier League last season (90).

In fact, only Mohamed Salah (13) registered more assists than Alexander-Arnold (12) in the season just gone, but the Liverpool defender has started just four of England’s last 28 matches in all competitions, leading to criticism levelled in the direction of Southgate.

There is a common notion that Alexander-Arnold has deficiencies when playing on the back foot, hence Southgate’s seeming reluctance to select him on a consistent basis, but James has now leapt to the defence of his international teammate, suggesting his playing style is tailored perfectly for Liverpool.

When asked by reporters about Alexander-Arnold criticism, James responded: “I make mistakes as well. I gave away a penalty against Hungary so we are both still learning our trade.

“Liverpool have 95 per cent of the ball and he defends less than I have to.

“People have a lot of stuff to say and don’t really know the game. Trent is a great player.”

There remains a huge question mark as to who will be Southgate’s starting No. 2 at the World Cup later this year, but James has defiantly talked up his bid to push for the spot.

He said: “I’ll try everything I can [to be first choice].

“Only my performances will be able to prove what I can bring.

“In these games and building into next season I’ll hopefully be able to show that I’m ready to play every game.”