Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s audition as part of England’s midfield could not have gone better, with his assist on Monday night executed “perfectly.”
Inspired by his shift of role for Liverpool and the so-called competition at right-back, Gareth Southgate deployed Alexander-Arnold in midfield this month.
As England steamrolled over both Malta (4-0) and North Macedonia (7-0), the 23-year-old twice played the full 90 minutes and had a hand in three goals.
He scored one in the victory over Malta, while his ball over the top for Bukayo Saka also led to an own goal in that tie, and on Monday night he shone again.
His telling contribution came with an inch-perfect hooked pass for Saka in the second half, with the Arsenal winger touching it down and volleying home brilliantly on his way to a hat-trick.
Speaking to Channel 4 after his career-first treble, Saka explained how he and Liverpool’s No. 66 had planned the move at half-time.
“He’s a top, top player, everyone obviously know that,” he said.
“At half-time, he said to me that he was going to do that pass and obviously when I did score I was looking at him to thank him, because he did it.
“He did it perfectly, I didn’t really have to break my stride. That’s just the quality that he has, so credit to him.”
Saka was joined in his praise by Southgate, who hailed his new midfielder after the game for performing the role “immaculately.”
“The other night he just had to tag the pivot really and he did that well,” the manager explained.
“Tonight he had to make a lot of decisions and he did it almost immaculately. He regained a lot of balls.
“His pressing was good, so for me, he has got everything to play in there.
“I didn’t even think twice about starting him in there. It might give us something completely different.
“The vision and the passing range and the connection with Bukayo for his second goal [stood out].”