Jeremy Doku’s insane stats vs. Liverpool – and why Pep Guardiola still got it wrong

If one were to look solely at the stats, Jeremy Doku enjoyed a field day against Trent Alexander-Arnold – but they don’t tell you the full story, with Pep Guardiola missing a trick.

The best right-back in the world, but can he defend? It’s the stick that is constantly used to beat Alexander-Arnold with, and Guardiola put it to the test.

Doku, City’s summer signing, lined up opposite the No. 66 and enjoyed the fourth-most touches of any player (89), created the most chances of the match (four) and ended his 90 minutes with the best xA (0.74).

Moreover, as per FotMob, he won 18 of his 25 ground duels (again, the most of any player) and recorded 12 successful dribbles from 15 attempts, three times the attempts of the next best – insane numbers.

His dribble tally was the most in a single Premier League game since September 2021 and the most against the Reds in the league since 2006/07, according to Opta – but there was no end product at the Etihad.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 25, 2023: Manchester City's Jérémy Doku during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool anticipated Doku on the right and ensured Alexander-Arnold was readily backed up by the likes of Joel Matip and Dominik Szoboszlai, and you sense Guardiola missed a trick.

Kostas Tsimikas has not enjoyed the best start to life as Liverpool’s go-to left-back in the absence of Andy Robertson, and this match had the potential for that to be exploited.

In the end, the Greece international contested and won only one ground duel as City focused their attack on the opposite flank, and it was Alexander-Arnold who walked away with the all-important goal.

The 25-year-old won back possession 10 times for the Reds (the most of any player), had the joint-most interceptions (two) and the second-most crosses (four), and his 69 touches were the second-most of any Red.

His inverted role caused debate post-match as to his best position, and Klopp was quick to praise the “influential” display from Alexander-Arnold, which included his battle against Doku.

“He played a really good game, super influential,” Klopp said post-match. “He changed it if you want with the position.

“He had still his moments with Doku where he was really strong in the one-on-one situations. You could see in a lot of moments how difficult it is against him.

“Trent was pretty influential today, in a good way.”

One player saw plenty of the ball, but the other corralled his direct opponent into non-threatening positions and had the end product to match. Guardiola missed a trick, Alexander-Arnold did not.