LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 6, 2020: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp prepares to bring on substitute Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp backs Trent to hit top form “sooner rather than later” after COVID-19 and injury

Jurgen Klopp has addressed Trent Alexander-Arnold shaky form – culminating in his substitution at Southampton – and backed him to hit form “sooner rather than later.”

Liverpool’s No. 66 drew criticism for his display at St Mary’s on Monday night, with Klopp withdrawing him after 77 minutes as James Milner took his place.

It is safe to say the right-back is not in his best form of late, and it coincides with a poor run of results for the Reds, with defeat to Southampton following back-to-back draws with West Brom and Newcastle.

But Klopp believes Alexander-Arnold is “getting there” in terms of his performances, after a start to the campaign that saw him robbed of a pre-season due to a case of COVID-19 before suffering a calf injury in November.

“That’s normal after you play football in public and if you make people used to the level Trent showed over the last three or four years since he started playing for us,” the manager said of the criticism of Alexander-Arnold’s showing at St Mary’s.

“In a game like this it was an obvious case of not his best game, absolutely – he knows that, we know that, that’s clear.

“There are explanations for this season, if you want, but he had good games as well, absolutely, and he helped us a lot in different moments.

“But the reason is he started, was directly out for a while with early Covid, then had an injury which didn’t help, so he had no pre-season really, if you want.

“Then after, with the quality he has and the situation we were in, he played pretty early, so all these kinds of things.

“I think he’s now getting there. Physically I think he’s fine, now he has to find his top shape again and that will happen, sooner rather than later.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 27, 2020: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold looks dejected after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Bromwich Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is not the first time that Klopp has acknowledged a positive COVID-19 test for Alexander-Arnold during the summer, but it is another reminder of the other factors at play in a unique season.

While a player may recover from COVID-19 quickly, the long-term effects of the virus vary from case to case, and regardless of whether he has fully shaken off his illness it will have had an impact on his fitness.

Alexander-Arnold’s momentum was stalled further by his calf injury at Man City, and it should also be stressed that he is still only 22, and as Klopp highlighted, his previous form has set a high bar.

No doubt the right-back will be back to his best soon, but this is simply another consequence of a strange season.