When Liverpool lined up at the Camp Nou for the first-leg of their UEFA Champions League clash against Barcelona, the omission of Trent Alexander-Arnold from the starting XI raised plenty of eyebrows.
The 20-year-old right-back had been a permanent fixture for the Reds in their Champions League run to the semi-final but manager Jurgen Klopp surprisingly opted to go with young Joe Gomez for the crux clash at the Camp Nou.
Come the weekend in the Premier League and Alexander-Arnold was back in the starting XI in the fixture against Newcastle and wasted no time in showing why he would have been the ideal candidate for right-back against Barcelona.
Inside just half an hour at Newcastle, the youngster grabbed two assists which took his overall season tally to 11. Those two contributions from the right-back proved to be decisive in the end as Liverpool ensured that the Premier League title-race will go right down to the wire.
It was a crucial reminder of the attacking prowess from the right flank that Alexander-Arnold brings to the table for Liverpool and it was one the Reds sorely missed in the Camp Nou encounter.
With their attacking threat down the right side greatly reduced, Liverpool found themselves on the back foot for the majority of the tie with Barcelona left-back Jordi Alba being his marauding self. It was perhaps to counter the extra threat of Alba down the flank that Klopp opted to go with Gomez instead of Alexander-Arnold but it was a decision which failed to bring the required result.
With a mountain of a three-goal deficit now left to climb for Liverpool in the second-leg at Anfield, it is time for Klopp to shun his inhibitions and take the attack to Barcelona. For that, starting Alexander-Arnold at a right-back is a must.
A big reason for Liverpool’s remarkable season is the attacking output of their two full-backs in Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson. The pair have now provided 26 assists between themselves across all competitions and their ability to influence proceedings from the flanks gives an extra dimension to Liverpool’s already fearsome attack.
The gambit of playing Gomez at the Camp Nou has not paid off for Klopp and he must now turn to the ultra-attacking Alexander-Arnold if an improbable comeback is to follow.