England have a number of strong options at right-back currently and Rio Ferdinand believes Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Trent Alexander-Arnold both possess attributes which the other can’t match.
What did he say?
A lot has been made of Alexander-Arnold and his importance in the current Liverpool side that looks destined for the title. Jamie Carragher has likened him to Kevin De Bruyne and his 12 Premier League assists mean he offers a devastating threat going forward.
That is one area where the £36m-rated Wan-Bissaka doesn’t particularly excel, though there have been signs recently that he is making progress, playing in a brilliant cross for Anthony Martial’s goal at Chelsea a few weeks ago for example.
He has also made Manchester United more difficult to score against, with the Red Devils conceding 28 goals in his 26 league games, compared to the 54 goals they allowed past them in the 2018/19 Premier League season.
As a result, Gareth Southgate has a very difficult decision to make when it comes to England selection, and it seems that Ferdinand too finds it challenging to pick between the pair.
Speaking on Instagram, via the Independent, he said:
“If you moulded them two players together, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Trent Alexander-Arnold, you’ve got the best player.
“On the ball [Wan-Bissaka is] nowhere near as good as Trent, but Trent defensively one-on-one isn’t anywhere near as good as Wan-Bissaka, so if you had both of them you’ve got the ultimate machine.
“It depends on the game, If I knew I was going to have to defend a lot and I need someone to lock down the winger I’m bringing [Wan-Bissaka] on.”
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Lessons to be learned
While both players have key attributes in specific areas, what makes them so effective is that they each suit their respective teams perfectly.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made improvements to the defence and by adding pace in attack he has made the Red Devils an efficient counter-attacking team.
His methods were best evidenced in the 2-1 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad earlier this season. Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial were devastating on the break but they were only able to provide victory due to a stalwart defence, with Wan-Bissaka arguably the stand-out.
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He dealt with Raheem Sterling expertly and made an astounding five tackles and seven clearances. The 22-year-old also made eight tackles in the recent reverse fixture against the Citizens and has twice achieved 10 tackles in one game – against Norwich and Southampton.
Alexander-Arnold, by comparison, cannot live up to that standard, with his five tackles against Everton the most he’s managed in a single match this term.
Liverpool, though, do not come under the same type of pressure as the Red Devils, but he should still watch Wan-Bissaka’s positioning and take some notes, as otherwise he will be caught out at the highest level.
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In an England home match against Kosovo earlier this season, for example, he was too advanced up the pitch and failed to get back in time to stop a goal after a turnover in midfield. Meanwhile, a lack of awareness against Watford recently for Ismaila Sarr’s opener from a throw-in also highlighted his shortcomings.
In other news, the Red Devils may face a struggle to hold onto a young player amid interest from another top Premier League club…