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NAPLES, ITALY - Wednesday, September 7, 2022: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the UEFA Champions League Group A matchday 1 game between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

How Trent Alexander-Arnold can set impressive European record for Liverpool vs. Ajax

Liverpool will be aiming to get their Champions League campaign up and running when they host Ajax on Tuesday night, and Trent Alexander-Arnold will reach an impressive European milestone if he features.

The right-back could become the 26th player to reach 50 European games for Liverpool.

If he does, he will be the youngest in the club’s history to reach the landmark at the age of 23 years and 341 days.

Jurgen Klopp has won all four of his meetings with Ajax – the first two coming while with Borussia Dortmund, and the others when Liverpool faced them in the 2020/21 Champions League group stages.

 

Reds aiming to avoid unwanted record

NAPLES, ITALY - Wednesday, September 7, 2022: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk looks dejected as his side conceded the fourth goal during the UEFA Champions League Group A matchday 1 game between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If Liverpool are beaten here, they will have lost both of their opening group games in European competition for the first time in their history.

They have not lost back-to-back European games since losing both Champions League round of 16 legs to Atletico Madrid in 2019/20.

Having been beaten by Real Madrid and Napoli in their previous two Champions League matches, defeat against Ajax would see them lose three successive European games for the first time since the 2014/15 group stages.

The defeat at Napoli was only the seventh time in their European history that Liverpool have conceded four goals or more in a game, while they have never done so in successive games.

In all competitions, the last time Liverpool conceded four goals in successive games was in April 2009 – away to Chelsea in the Champions League and at home to Arsenal in the league – both ending 4-4.

 

Liverpool against Ajax and Dutch opposition

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 1, 2020: Liverpool's Curtis Jones celebrates after scoring the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The two teams have met each other four times over two ties.

The first occasion was in 1966/67, when Ajax won the European Cup first leg match 5-1 in Amsterdam, with Johan Cruyff scoring twice, before a 2-2 draw was played out in the Anfield return.

Two seasons ago they faced each other in the Champions League group stages, with Liverpool beating Erik ten Hag’s men twice by a single goal.

After winning thanks to an own goal in Amsterdam, Curtis Jones scored on his European debut in the return, on a night when Caoimhin Kelleher, Diogo Jota and Rhys Williams also played their first European matches for the Reds.

Liverpool are unbeaten in the eight ties they have played against Dutch teams at Anfield, having won six and drawn two.

Five of those victories have come in this competition.

 

Champions League nights return to Anfield

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 28, 2022: Liverpool players line-up before the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg game between Liverpool FC and Villarreal CF at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In all European matches, Liverpool have won six of their last 10 Anfield fixtures, with the two defeats coming at the hands of Italian teams – Atalanta and Inter Milan.

Last season the Reds scored 12 goals in their six Anfield matches in this competition, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino each scoring twice.

Klopp’s side scored seven times at home in the 2021/22 group stages.

The last Liverpool player to score a hat-trick at Anfield in Europe was Philippe Coutinho, who netted three in a 7-0 win over Spartak Moscow in December 2017.

 

Darwin Nunez and Ajax meet again

LISBON, PORTUGAL - Tuesday, April 5, 2022: Benfica's Darwin Nunez during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg game between SL Benfica and Liverpool FC at the Estádio da Luz. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is Ajax’s fifth successive Champions League campaign, with the Dutch champions knocked out in the round of 16 last season.

Like Liverpool, they emerged from the group stages with a 100 percent record, winning both fixtures against Sporting Lisbon, Borussia Dortmund and Besiktas.

They were knocked out by Benfica in the last 16, drawing 2-2 in the first leg, before a certain Darwin Nunez scored the winner in Amsterdam.

Virgil van Dijk was team-mates at Southampton with both Dusan Tadic and Maarten Stekelenburg, who are both expected to be in the Ajax squad this evening.

 

No Ten Hag, no problem

Ajax captain Dusan Tadic believes his side would have performed better than Tottenham against Liverpool in the 2019 Champions League final (Adam Davy/PA)

Former manager Ten Hag, who left to join Man United in the summer, was replaced as coach by 49 year-old Alfred Schreuder, who was the club’s assistant in 2018/19. Last season he led Club Bruges to the Belgian league title.

This season, Ajax are top of the Eredivisie with a 100 percent league record, and have won seven of their eight games in all competitions.

They have scored 28 goals in their eight games in all competitions this season, scoring at least twice in each of their last four domestic matches.

Schreuder’s side have won all of their league away games in 2022/23 – at Fortuna Sittard (3-2), Sparta Rotterdam (1-0) and Utrecht (2-0).

It’s also been 530 minutes since they last conceded a goal, having kept a clean sheet in each of their last five games.

 

Tonight’s referee

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 22: Jordan Henderson of England interacts with Match Referee, Artur Dias after the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group D match between Czech Republic and England at Wembley Stadium on June 22, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Morton - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Portuguese Artur Dias will take charge of a Liverpool match for the first time this evening.

In his two Champions League games this season, both qualifiers, he has issued 11 yellow cards and one red.

 

This season’s scorers

NAPLES, ITALY - Wednesday, September 7, 2022: Liverpool's Luis Díaz celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group A matchday 1 game between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool: Diaz 4, Firmino 3, Salah 3, Alexander-Arnold 2, Carvalho 2, Nunez 2, Elliott 1,
Van Dijk 1, own goals 1

Ajax: Bergwijn 8, Kudus 5, Berghuis 3, Brobbey 3, Taylor 3, Antony 2, Rensch 2,
Alvarez 1, Klaasen 1


* Stats courtesy of LFC statistician Ged Rea (@ged0407).

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