Trent Alexander-Arnold will miss Euro 2020 after suffering a thigh injury against Austria on Wednesday, England have confirmed.

The Liverpool full-back was the subject of much media speculation ahead of Gareth Southgate's decision to cut his preliminary squad to a selection of 26 earlier this week.

Alexander-Arnold was picked, however, along with three other players capable of playing right-back in Kyle Walker, Reece James and Kieran Trippier.

However, as fate would have it, the 22-year-old will miss out after all, having gone off injured late on in the 1-0 win over Austria after clearing the ball.

Southgate said after the friendly at Middlesbrough – which England won 1-0 – that it "was not a good sign" to see Alexander-Arnold need assistance to walk around the sidelines, and further assessments on Thursday revealed a grade two quad tear.

Alexander-Arnold faces around six weeks out, meaning he will be unable to take part in the Euros – which for England start on June 13 against Croatia – and will instead withdraw from the squad.

Southgate will not confirm a replacement until after Sunday's friendly against Romania.

Trent Alexander-Arnold will miss Euro 2020 after suffering a thigh injury against Austria on Wednesday, England have confirmed.

The Liverpool full-back was the subject of much media speculation ahead of Gareth Southgate's decision to cut his preliminary squad to a selection of 26 earlier this week.

Alexander-Arnold was picked, however, along with three other players capable of playing right-back in Kyle Walker, Reece James and Kieran Trippier.

However, as fate would have it, the 22-year-old will miss out after all, having gone off injured late on in the 1-0 win over Austria after clearing the ball.

Southgate said after the friendly at Middlesbrough – which England won 1-0 – that it "was not a good sign" to see Alexander-Arnold need assistance to walk around the sidelines, and further assessments on Thursday revealed a grade two quad tear.

Alexander-Arnold faces around six weeks out, meaning he will be unable to take part in the Euros – which for England start on June 13 against Croatia – and will instead withdraw from the squad.

Southgate will not confirm a replacement until after Sunday's friendly against Romania.

Trent Alexander-Arnold's participation in Euro 2020 appears to be in huge doubt after the England full-back sustained an apparent muscular injury against Austria.

England won 1-0 on Wednesday thanks to Bukayo Saka's first international goal, but a late injury for Alexander-Arnold may have spoiled the night.

Alexander-Arnold was left out of a previous England squad in March, but has made the 26-man cut for Euro 2020, with Gareth Southgate taking four right-backs.

Two of those right-backs – Kyle Walker and Reece James – were unavailable in Middlesbrough following their Champions League final exploits, so the Liverpool star got the nod.

However, in the closing stages, Alexander-Arnold pulled up after making a clearance with his left foot, and appeared to be clutching his thigh as he limped off the pitch, with England's medical staff then having to help him walk around the sidelines to the tunnel.

With England kicking-off their campaign against Croatia on June 13, Alexander-Arnold's prospects do not look good, but Southgate, who also has concerns over the fitness of Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire, will wait for a full diagnosis before making a decision on whether to replace the 22-year-old.

"We're going to have a look. It's obviously not good to see him come off in the way he did. We'll just have to assess him over the next 24 hours," he told ITV Sport.

"I think thigh, but the medical team are still assessing it really. We just have to see, it's not a good sign to see him have to walk off as he did, but we'll know more in the next 24, 48 hours.

"Let's see how Trent is, and we'll go from there. We don't know the full extent, so the last thing you want is to have to see him come off in the way he did."

Another player to provide something of a scare to England fans might have been Jack Grealish. 

The Aston Villa talisman missed a large chunk of the Premier League run-in due to an injury, but played over an hour before being replaced by debutant Ben White.

Grealish was seen with an ice pack on his right shin as he watched on from the stands, but the 25-year-old insisted he is fit.

"I've had an injury recently so to get 70 minutes under my belt, I'm glad," he explained to ITV Sport.

"It's not shin splints, actually, it's different to that, it's like a bit of stress on my shin, a different type of injury.

"I'm not concerned, I'm still aware of it, need to keep on top of it, do whatever I can to heal it after playing in these games, so that's why the ice was on."

Trent Alexander-Arnold suffered a late injury as England stepped up Euro 2020 preparations with a 1-0 win over Austria that was secured by Bukayo Saka's first senior international goal.

Manager Gareth Southgate was shorn of the Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United players likely to be key at the upcoming tournament, and he fielded a relatively inexperienced team for Wednesday's friendly in Middlesbrough.

It was one of the youngsters to have made the final 26-man squad who proved decisive, Arsenal winger Saka tucking into an empty net early in the second half to mark his fifth Three Lions appearance with a maiden goal.

Yet the biggest moment came late on, when Alexander-Arnold – whose inclusion in the squad has been a hot topic – suffered an apparent muscular injury in inconspicuous circumstances, which will surely cast doubt over his availability for the tournament.

Gareth Southgate joked he would select more right-backs in England's Euro 2020 squad if he could, after four players who fill the role were picked in his 26-man pool.

Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Reece James and – despite several media reports to the contrary – Trent Alexander-Arnold were selected in England's squad for the tournament, which starts on June 11.

Liverpool defender Alexander-Arnold missed out on the March internationals and reports suggested he would be the biggest name to be cut from England's provisional squad.

Asked to explain his decision, Southgate told a news conference: "We went through this last week, yes we have four players who play sometimes at right-back for their clubs, Kieran, Reece have been playing wing-back or right of a three, Trent plays at right-back, Kyle Walker has played in the right of a three for us.

"Basically they're in our best 26 footballers and if I could have picked a fifth or a sixth right-back, I probably would have done!"

Alexander-Arnold has won acclaim for his attacking qualities, and Southgate last week said he felt the 22-year-old, who has 12 caps, could be versatile enough to play in midfield.

Pressed on that suggestion in Tuesday's media conference, Southgate said: "We're here to play nine games and we already have some injury doubts, I'm sure we're going to face other difficulties in the next four or five weeks.

"We need adaptability, good professionals, tactically savvy players – we're fortunate we've got old and young players who fit all of those categories."

There can be little doubt over his proficiency going forward, though there has been debate over Alexander-Arnold's defensive abilities.

In the Premier League, he made three errors leading to shots and one that led to a goal in the season just ended, whereas James and Walker made no such mistakes.

Trippier, who helped Atletico Madrid win LaLiga, made just one error that led to a shot. Alexander-Arnold's tackle success rate (58.9 per cent) was below that of each of his rivals for the England role (Walker 65.5 per cent; Trippier 63.9; James 63.6), and he was part of a Liverpool team that conceded a goal on average once every 76 minutes when he featured.

Trippier, a key part of Atleti's tight-knit defence, could point to the new Spanish champions conceding only once per 191 minutes when he was on the pitch.

In Alexander-Arnold's defence, he played far more minutes in league games than each of his rivals (3,033 - next most is Trippier with 2,477), and Liverpool's backline frailties were to a large extent affected by the injuries that kept Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip out for much of the season.

Should Alexander-Arnold indeed be utilised as an alternative midfield option, it may go some way to support Southgate's reasoning for leaving out Jesse Lingard.

Out of favour at Manchester United, the midfielder enjoyed a brilliant loan spell at West Ham, scoring nine goals in 16 league appearances as David Moyes' team secured European football for next season.

"Jesse's done incredibly well to get back in the race. Back in January he was a million miles away from being selected for an England squad," Southgate said.

"He had a good spell with West Ham, he's been a player who's played so well for us with England, we've got total trust in the way he plays, he's reliable, a great member of the group.

"He will play tomorrow [in the friendly against Austria] because we've got [Jadon] Sancho ill and we've got a lot of players not available and for the balance of the team he'll start, so he deserves that opportunity to go and show me that I'm wrong, straight away!"

Trent Alexander-Arnold survived the cull of England's extended Euro 2020 squad as Gareth Southgate named his final 26-man list on Tuesday.

The Liverpool defender, arguably the standout full-back in world football in the 2019-20 season, was expected by many to pay the price for a dip in form over the previous nine months.

England have riches at the position, and Southgate has also selected further specialist right-backs in Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, Manchester City's Kyle Walker and Chelsea's Reece James.

The players to miss out as Southgate trimmed the 33-man group he named last week were Jesse Lingard, Ben Godfrey, Aaron Ramsdale, Ollie Watkins, James Ward-Prowse and Ben White, with Mason Greenwood withdrawing from contention due to what his club, Manchester United, described as an "underlying injury".

Lingard had a highly productive second half of the season on loan at West Ham, but it was not enough to persuade the Three Lions boss.

Southgate said that decision proved "very difficult".

The players who were excluded will remain with the squad over the coming days and could feature in friendlies against Austria on Wednesday and Romania on Sunday, both of which will be played at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium.

Southgate said Lingard was likely to start the game against Austria.

The inclusion of defender Harry Maguire follows concern over the Manchester United player's ankle injury, which ruled him out of the Europa League final.

Southgate said he had "a lot more clarity" over who would be available for his squad after United's clash with Villarreal and the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City.

Of those who missed out on his tournament selection, he said: "I know what a disappointment that is for them, not to be going to a major championship.

"With Jordan [Henderson] and Harry Maguire we have a couple of players who are not where they'd be ideally in terms of their physical prep. But we feel the experience they have, the fact we think we can get them to a point where they can have an involvement in the tournament, it's worth taking them, especially as we've got an extended squad of 26."
 

England squad for Euro 2020:

Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund); Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Trent Alexander-Arnold survived the cull of England's extended Euro 2020 squad as Gareth Southgate named his final 26-man list on Tuesday.

The Liverpool defender, arguably the standout full-back in world football in the 2019-20 season, was expected by many to pay the price for a dip in form over the previous nine months.

England have riches at the position, and Southgate has also selected further specialist right-backs in Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, Manchester City's Kyle Walker and Chelsea's Reece James.

The players to miss out as Southgate trimmed the 33-man group he named last week were Jesse Lingard, Ben Godfrey, Aaron Ramsdale, Ollie Watkins, James Ward-Prowse and Ben White, with Mason Greenwood withdrawing from contention due to what his club, Manchester United, described as an "underlying injury".
 

England squad for Euro 2020:

Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund); Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Trent Alexander-Arnold received praise to go with his recall from Gareth Southgate as the England boss hedged his bets for Euro 2020 by naming a 33-man provisional squad.

The Liverpool right-back could yet face exclusion agony when Southgate trims his list to 26 next week, but for now Alexander-Arnold is back in the England picture.

Once seen as a player who would hold down the right full-back berth for England for years to come, the 22-year-old was dramatically dropped from Southgate's squad in March, with the head coach questioning his recent level of performance at club level.

Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier and Manchester City's Kyle Walker – both title winners with their clubs this season – look to be ahead of Alexander-Arnold, who may be battling Chelsea's Reece James for a place in the final group.

After a late-season surge to a Champions League place by Liverpool, helped by an improved Alexander-Arnold, the England head coach was left with a quandary.

"I could easily get drawn into individuals who might be in the 26, get myself in a mess," said Southgate in a news conference following his squad announcement.

"People feel I have an obsession with right-backs. I see four good footballers. Trippier can play right-back or left-back, Trent can play right-back, wing-back. I think he can play in midfield.

"In the last few days I've seen Reece James play right in a three, at wing-back, in midfield. We're going to a tournament and those sorts of flexible players that can fulfill different roles but are good footballers are going to be hugely important for us.

"We don't know how it will play out with injuries, what our best systems will be with people available, we've got too many question marks.

"That will all become far clearer. We know what we'd like to do, we've got good contingencies in place."

Southgate selected an expanded squad because of injury worries over the likes of Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson, the captains of Manchester United and Liverpool. By including Alexander-Arnold, Southgate at least delays any criticism over his exclusion, and it may be that a space opens up for the attack-minded defender.

Alexander-Arnold is a slightly different flavour of defender to Southgate's other options, as a player who had 13 assists in Liverpool's 2019-20 title-winning campaign and seven in the league season just ended.

James has just two Premier League assists in 2020-21 and Walker only one, with the City defender creating just eight chances compared to the 77 set up by Alexander-Arnold. Trippier assisted on six goals in LaLiga, however.

 

James, Walker and Trippier are all well ahead of Alexander-Arnold in terms of dribble and tackle success rates, and Southgate can be expected to be aware of such factors.

Alexander-Arnold's 2020-21 league dribble success rate stood at just 47.06 per cent, with Walker posting 53.33 per cent, James 65.38 per cent and Trippier 76 per cent.

In tackling success, Alexander-Arnold's 58.93 per cent success rate was beaten by his three right-back rivals, who each scored at least 63 per cent, led by 65.52 per cent by Walker.

The Liverpool man's attempted dribbles may at times have been high-tariff manoeuvres, given he regularly plays high up the field, but Alexander-Arnold loses possession at a rate that could give England problems. He gave up the ball 25.49 times on average per 90 minutes in 2020-21 league action, compared to 14.83 by James, 16.35 by Trippier and a mere 13.32 by Walker.

As Southgate toys with that big call, he must also decide whether Mason Greenwood, United's 19-year-old forward, makes the cut.

Greenwood scored just seven Premier League goals at one every 261 minutes in 2020-21 but, after a strong end to the campaign, he has again caught the eye of England's manager, who sent him home along with Phil Foden at the start of the season after a breach of COVID-19 protocol while on national team duty in Iceland.

"In terms of the past it is absolutely the past," Southgate said. "Young people make mistakes, we move on from it, the same with Phil [Foden].

"He's an absolutely outstanding finisher, no question about that."

England manager Gareth Southgate has named his provisional 33-man squad for the rearranged Euro 2020, which starts next month. 

The Three Lions boss has until midnight on June 1 to cut his squad down to 26, but he will have time to assess players in training ahead of friendlies against Austria and Romania on June 2 and June 6 respectively.

England then start their Euros campaign at Wembley on June 13, taking on Croatia. Scotland are next up in Group D, before they face the Czech Republic on June 22.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the data behind some of the notable inclusions – including a midfielder who could become England's youngest player at a major tournament – and eye-catching omissions from Southgate's preliminary selection.

Bellingham on course to break Owen's record

Jude Bellingham has enjoyed a stunning debut season at Borussia Dortmund following his move from Championship side Birmingham City for a reported €23million (£21m). 

He made 19 appearances in the Bundesliga, scoring once, and became the youngest English player to net in the Champions League when he struck against Manchester City in the quarter-finals, aged 17 years and 289 days. 

The midfielder made his England debut as a substitute against the Republic of Ireland in November, which he followed up with another appearance from the bench in the World Cup qualifying win over San Marino in March. 

Bellingham is expected to make Southgate's final squad and should he feature in any of the games – a near-certainity given the supreme confidence with which he has taken to elite-level football – he will break Michael Owen's 23-year record as the youngest player to feature for the Three Lions at a major tournament. 

He could also be joined by two other teenagers, with Arsenal's Bukayo Saka and Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood, who are both still yet to turn 20, also in Southgate's long list.

The inclusion of that trio meant the average age of the squad on Tuesday was just 25 years and 12 days. 

Alexander-Arnold storms back into contention

Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold was controversially left out of England's squad for the March internationals, but a strong end to the season saw him included in Southgate's pool of players this time around.

The Liverpool right-back certainly struggled in the early stages of the campaign, but he finished it having created more chances (77) than any other defender in the Premier League. 

He also had more goal involvements (two goals, seven assists) and tallied up more successful crosses (37) than any other defender, while only Leeds United's Luke Ayling (279) made more than his 258 recoveries. 

A surprise inclusion in defence was Brighton and Hove Albion's Ben White. 

The 23-year-old quietly went about his business with Graham Potter's side and ended the campaign with the best combined tackles and interceptions ratio per 90 minutes (3.13) of any English centre back who played more than 900 minutes. He was significantly ahead of second-placed Harry Maguire (2.63), who has also been included in the squad despite injury concerns. 

White also has the highest average carry distance (11.4 metres) of that group of players, ahead of John Stones (11.2) and Maguire (11.1), while he also made the most carries which resulted in taking an opposition player on (18). A carry is defined as when a player travels five or more metres with the ball.

Everton defender Ben Godfrey was also selected for the provisional squad, with Southgate saying of the pair: "I think they're both exciting young defenders, they can play left, right, midfield in White's case.

"It's an opportunity for us to know them better. I think it works for everybody. Not knowing how long they'll be with us at this stage, but it'll be a fantastic experience for them."

'Difficult call' to leave Dier out

While a number of players will consider themselves unfortunate to miss out, James Maddison, Eric Dier, Danny Ings and Patrick Bamford were arguably the four most glaring omissions.

Dier, in particular, will feel aggrieved to have been snubbed, having been a key member in the run to the World Cup 2018 semi-finals and a regular in the squad since, but he has struggled for form for Tottenham this term.

He gave away two penalties in his 28 appearances in 2020-21 – only Kyle Walker and team-mate Davinson Sanchez (three) conceded more in the English top flight.

Explaining his decision to not call up Dier, Southgate said: "Unfortunately, I don't think his season has been strong enough to be in the squad. It's a difficult call because I know how much he brings to the whole group and when you're at a tournament those team players are critical."

Maddison has not always been a favourite of Southgate's, meanwhile.

The attacking midfielder managed eight goals and five assists in 31 Premier League appearances for Leicester City this season. However, of the seven other midfielders to have been directly involved in more goals than Maddison's 13, three of them – Phil Foden (14), James Ward-Prowse (15) and Jack Grealish (16) – are part of England's squad.

Maddison created an average of 2.18 chances per 90 minutes in an injury hampered 2020-21 league campaign, which is again below the likes of Mason Mount (2.71) and Grealish (3.34), but ahead of Foden (2.01), Ward-Prowse (1.58) and Jesse Lingard (1.14).

FA Cup Winners 2021 Dreams really do come true  pic.twitter.com/EHdXsgKTEg

— James Maddison (@Madders10) May 15, 2021

"It's an area of the pitch where we've got unbelievable competition for places," Southgate said. "We just feel there are players ahead of James in those areas."

As for Ings and Bamford, the pair scored 12 and 17 top-flight goals for Southampton and Leeds respectively this season.

Bamford's average of 0.5 goals per 90 minutes and Ings' 0.49 ranks them favourably among English strikers in the Premier League, ahead of Marcus Rashford (0.34), Greenwood (0.34) and Ollie Watkins (0.38), who they were competing with for a squad place.

"There is of course Danny and Patrick, who have had very good seasons," Southgate said. "But we didn't see any reason to change these positions from the players who did very well with us in the three qualifiers that we won in March."

Trent Alexander-Arnold and injured pair Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson have been named in England's 33-man provisional squad for Euro 2020.

Gareth Southgate has until midnight on June 1 to cut his squad down to 26, but he will have time to assess players in training ahead of friendlies against Austria and Romania on June 2 and June 6 respectively.

Alexander-Arnold had been the headline name to miss out on England's squad for the March internationals, but the Liverpool full-back does feature in this extended list.

He is joined by Reds team-mate Jordan Henderson, who has not featured for Liverpool since sustaining an injury in the Merseyside derby in February, while Manchester United captain Maguire, who is currently struggling with an ankle ligament problem, is also included.

Also making the cut is Mason Greenwood. The United teenager, who has enjoyed a fine end to the season, scoring eight times in all competitions from March 21 onwards, has not featured in a squad since he – along with Manchester City star Phil Foden – breached coronavirus protocols in Iceland last September.

Foden is included after a sensational campaign for the Premier League champions, along with Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, who returned from injury earlier this month.

Southgate faces an anxious wait as both Greenwood and Foden, along with their respective United and City team-mates, have European finals this week. City play in the Champions League showpiece against Chelsea, who have three players in the squad. Tammy Abraham is not among them.

Borussia Dortmund pair Jude Bellingham and Jadon Sancho feature. Bellingham, who turns 18 at the end of June, could become England's youngest player at a major tournament.

Midfield colleague Kalvin Phillips will be the subject of some scrutiny ahead of the squad deadline following a shoulder injury playing for Leeds United on Sunday.

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford missed the previous squad through injury but returns and seems likely to be number one again, with Dean Henderson having struggled for consistency during a stint as United's first choice towards the end of the campaign.

Burnley keeper Nick Pope has undergone surgery on his knee, meaning Sam Johnstone and Aaron Ramsdale – relegated with West Brom and Sheffield United respectively – are called up.

Southampton forward Danny Ings headlines the list of notable omissions, while Eric Dier – a regular under Southgate – has also been left out, as has Micheal Keane. Young centre-backs Ben Godfrey and Ben White are preferred, called up for the first time.

England start their Euros campaign at Wembley on June 13, taking on Croatia. Scotland are next up in Group D, before the Three Lions face the Czech Republic on June 22.
 

Provisional England squad in full:

Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield United); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Ben Godfrey (Everton), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ben White (Brighton and Hove Albion); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton); Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Mason Greenwood (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa).

Trent Alexander-Arnold and injured pair Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson have been named in England's 33-man provisional squad for Euro 2020.

Gareth Southgate has until midnight on June 1 to cut his squad down to 26, but he will have time to assess players in training ahead of friendlies against Austria and Romania on June 2 and June 6 respectively.

Alexander-Arnold had been the headline name to miss out on England's squad for the March internationals, but the Liverpool full-back does feature in this extended list.

He is joined by Reds team-mate Jordan Henderson, who has not featured for Liverpool since sustaining an injury in the Merseyside derby in February, while Manchester United captain Maguire, who is currently struggling with an ankle ligament problem, is also included.

Time is running out to secure precious fantasy football points as the Premier League season nears an end.

Manchester City have the title in the bag, but it may still be all to play for in fantasy leagues heading into the penultimate weekend of the campaign.

With some teams still having three games to play in a hectic schedule, it will be vital to make the right picks and ensure points could potentially mean prizes.

Here are a few tips to help you out, powered by Opta, as always...

 

EDERSON

City travel to Newcastle United on Friday for their first match since being crowned champions.

They have won 11 consecutive Premier League away matches and a 12th victory at St. James' Park would see them break the all-time record in the top four tiers of English football.

City have kept 16 clean sheets on their travels in all competitions this season and are one away from equalling the record by a top-flight team in a season.

Newcastle have managed just 41 shots in seven Premier League games against Pep Guardiola's side, so another clean sheet could be on the cards for Ederson, who has more than any other goalkeeper in the division this season (18).

 

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD

Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold was outstanding in the 4-2 victory at Manchester United on Thursday.

With England boss Gareth Southgate watching on, Alexander-Arnold caught the eye with an influential display as Jurgen Klopp's side claimed three precious points in the battle for a Champions League spot.

The Reds travel to relegated West Brom on Sunday knowing a win would leave them just a point behind fourth-placed Chelsea with two games to play.

Since he was omitted from the last England squad in March, Alexander-Arnold has created more chances than any other top-flight player with 21, making him a necessity for your XI.

 

LUCAS DIGNE

Everton full-back Lucas Digne has enjoyed another impressive season for Carlo Ancelotti's side.

The Toffees entertain bottom club Sheffield United at Goodison Park on Sunday as they hunt a place in Europe next season.

France international Digne can make an impact at both ends of the pitch, with his seven assists the joint-highest by a defender in the Premier League this season, along with Aaron Cresswell of West Ham.

Everton have kept four clean sheets in their previous six matches with Digne in the side too, so will be aiming to blunt the Blades on Merseyside.

 

MATHEUS PEREIRA

Brazilian forward Matheus Pereira has been a shining light in a poor season for West Brom.

The Baggies were unable to avoid an immediate return to the Championship, a defeat to Arsenal last weekend consigning Sam Allardyce to a first relegation from the Premier League.

Albion will be desperate to keep hold of Pereira, who has scored five goals in six matches ahead of the encounter with Liverpool.

He has been directly involved in 15 goals this season, with only Peter Odemwingie (22 in 2010-11) and Romelu Lukaku (21 in 2012-13) managing more involvements for the Baggies in a Premier League campaign.

 

SON HEUNG-MIN

Tottenham face Wolves at home on Sunday smarting from a 3-1 defeat at Leeds United last time out.

Son Heung-min scored Spurs' only goal at Elland Road, where the London club's slim hopes of securing a Champions League spot were all-but ended.

The South Korea forward has been directly involved in four goals in three games under caretaker boss Ryan Mason, scoring three and setting one up.

Son has found the back of the net in three consecutive Premier League games and will be a major threat to Wolves. He had managed just one goal in his previous seven outings in the competition during the final stages of Jose Mourinho's reign.

 

SERGIO AGUERO

City's all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero issued an apology after his embarrassing Panenka penalty gave Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy the simplest of saves last weekend.

Aguero will be determined to make amends as he nears the end of his time with City and could take his frustration out on Newcastle.

The Argentina striker has scored 15 goals in 14 Premier League games against the Magpies, averaging one every 61 minutes, and it would be no surprise to see him add to that tally.

 

MICHAIL ANTONIO

West Ham head south to face Brighton and Hove Albion on the back of a 1-0 home defeat to Everton that left their chances of qualifying for the Champions League hanging by a thread.

They will need to respond on the south coast against a Brighton side who are safe now.

Antonio has been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 13 away Premier League starts, netting 11 times and providing three assists.

He can trouble the Seagulls and improve those numbers. Indeed, the forward has scored 24 times for the Hammers on the road in the competition, five more than any other player for the club.

Over the past couple of seasons, Trent Alexander-Arnold has essentially set the standard for full-backs in the Premier League.

Not only has he been a dependable part of a generally mean defence, but his effectiveness in the final third has helped mark him out from the rest.

A dead-ball specialist, comfortable on the ball and a fine passer, many have even suggested his long-term future could be further up the pitch in midfield – comparisons in this regard with the likes of Philipp Lahm are understandable.

But the adulation has been rather quieter this season. Indeed, he has even been the target of criticism on occasion, which is an awkward position to be in ahead of a huge top-of-the-table clash with bitter rivals and league leaders Manchester United on Sunday.

So, is Alexander-Arnold genuinely having a poor season? Or is he just the victim of his own high standards?

THE KNIVES ARE OUT

With Liverpool not running away with the Premier League title this term, perhaps it was inevitable that certain players were going to start being targeted with harsh words.

The focus on Alexander-Arnold seemingly became most intense after the Reds' 1-0 defeat to Southampton at the start of January.

Many sections of the British media zoned in on the fact Alexander-Arnold lost possession 38 times in the match, more than anyone else, yet virtually all coverage neglected to mention that such statistics are heavily skewed when relating to creative players who are far more likely to lose the ball due to the greater risk involved in their roles.

In isolation, such a statistic proves little. For example, Kevin De Bruyne lost possession 34 times in a game against Watford last season, yet he also had a telling impact with an assist from six chances created. In his entire Premier League career, the Belgian has only ever made more key passes in a single match eight times.

Although focusing on that part of his game may have been unfair, former Liverpool full-back Jose Enrique acknowledged Alexander-Arnold does appear to be a little short of his best, though he is adamant dips in form are normal and could even be explained by fatigue in a packed schedule.

"All of us are humans, you all have up and downs, we don't know what's going on in his life," Jose Enrique told Stats Perform News. "It's probably going amazing for him but at some point, your performance goes up and down. It's very difficult to do what [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo have done [in terms of consistency], it's just them, no one else [can be at such a level for so long].

"At some point in the season, you always underperform. It's normal. At the end [of games] you are more tired, you have many games under your legs. We are talking about international players, players playing at international level as well, Champions League, so it's many games."

STATS SUGGEST A SLUMP

The fact is, Alexander-Arnold has been less effective for Liverpool this season, and the stats back it up.

 

Across all competitions, the England international has four assists in 19 games at a rate of one every 392.8 minutes. Last term, he laid on 15 in 49 games, or one every 266.1 minutes.

In the Premier League, his frequency drops to 609.5 minutes per goal involvement, having been at 186.8 last term. On the opposite side of Liverpool's defence, Andy Robertson is proving a greater threat (one assist or goal every 255 minutes).

If we look a bit deeper, Opta data tells us Alexander-Arnold is playing fewer passes into the box per 90 minutes (12) than last term (14.4), while his open-play crosses are also down to 5.2 each game from 6.7 despite average position maps showing very little change in his role or the areas he operates in this term.

 

But, when considering his attacking output, it is worth noting that seven of his 13 Premier League assists last season came from set-pieces – this could partly explain his shortfall in productivity.

After all, he is taking almost 50 per cent fewer corners per game (down from 4.6 to 2.7) in 2020-21, while his key passes from set-pieces is 0.9 per 90 minutes after being 1.1 in 2019-20.

One might expect this to be a reflection of Liverpool simply having fewer corners, but that isn't the case – in fact, their average of 6.7 per game is identical to last season, he just is not taking them as often.

SUFFERING FROM A LACK OF COMPETITION?

Remember, though, this is comparing Alexander-Arnold to a time when he was in an almost unstoppable side that scored for fun and did not have something of a defensive injury crisis.

If we look at his form in the context of his Premier League contemporaries this term, his critics might be a little surprised.

Indeed, his 25 chances created and 162 passes into the box are second only to Robertson (32 and 169 respectively) among defenders, while Harry Maguire is the sole defensive player with more efforts on goal (21) than Alexander-Arnold (20).

 

It's a similar story with respect to crosses, as his tally of 70 is the fourth highest for a defender. Again, Robertson – who seems to be thriving even more this season – tops the list with 92.

Clearly Alexander-Arnold is still performing at a high standard, though Jose Enrique suggests a lack of competition in the right-back role could be another factor in his slight dip in form.

"I believe he's 22 now, he's won everything he can win as a player but maybe he needs more competition," the Spaniard added. "I believe Neco Williams is a good player, but obviously you can't compare. That's the reality. Neco is still growing, we don't know in the future how he's going to be. That's why he [Jurgen Klopp] puts [James] Milner there sometimes, I believe, to make a point.

"Sometimes it happens as well in players, and he will come back to his best. He's so important for us. Apart from De Bruyne, I don't see any other right foot like his. He puts the ball wherever he wants with his right foot, he's incredible. But like I said, he's a human being and he's not his best right now, but I'm sure against United he will sort out everyone, I'm sure."

There's no time like the present.

Liverpool are set to stick with their threadbare options at centre-back rather than recruiting a January replacement for Virgil van Dijk or Joe Gomez. 

The Reds have played much of the season so far with midfielder Fabinho in defence alongside a rotating cast of partners after long-term injuries to their starting duo. 

Joel Matip has been limited to just eight Premier League appearances due to his own fitness issues and is facing a race to be back for a vital game against Manchester United next week. 

Academy graduates have stepped in, with Nathaniel Phillips playing three times and Rhys Williams twice in the league, while captain Jordan Henderson lined up at centre-back in Monday's defeat to Southampton. 

Although Henderson and Fabinho won nine of the 11 duels they contested between them in that match and still ranked second and third for total touches, it is not an ideal fix. 

And such issues have prompted reports of interest in Schalke's Ozan Kabak and Lille's Sven Botman, although The Athletic reported on Thursday that Liverpool will not pursue either option in the mid-season window. 

Jurgen Klopp said prior to the game against Southampton that the club would do "the right thing" this month - and that appears to mean opting against a new signing. 

Asked if he could rule out a transfer as he previewed the scheduled trip to Aston Villa in the FA Cup, Klopp replied: "I cannot say definitely we will not bring one in. It's just not likely because of the situation in the world. 

"We should not forget that the [coronavirus] situation is a tough one for all people and for football clubs as well.

"There might be some clubs with absolutely no financial problems, but this club always was and will always be - with these owners, for sure - very responsible with the things we do. 

"If the world would be in a normal place, everything would be fine, we won the league, won the Champions League, the club is in the best possible situation, and you have three senior centre-halves all injured, is that a situation where you would normally do something? Yes, definitely. 

"But we are not in that situation, so I don't know if something will happen or not. 

"We maybe could do something, but it would be a short-term solution and we don't have a short-term solution, so it's not right because it does not help. 

"We have to get through this. It's not the best moment for the whole planet, so why should it be for this football club?" 

While rotation has been enforced in the middle of the defence, full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson have remained automatic picks. 

Alexander-Arnold tested positive for COVID-19 in pre-season and has also battled a calf injury, yet has still played 15 of Liverpool's 17 league matches. 

The right-back's performance level has dipped this season and his first error leading to a goal handed Southampton a 1-0 win on Monday. 

There was criticism of Alexander-Arnold after that match, in which he was substituted, and Klopp acknowledged on Thursday it was "not his best game", though backed the England international to recover. 

"The reason is he was out for a while with COVID and had an injury which didn't help," Klopp said. "He had no pre-season really. 

"Then with the quality he has and the situation we were in, he played pretty early. He's now getting there. 

"Physically he's fine, he just has to find his top shape again, and that will happen sooner rather than later."

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