Under the Spotlight: Trent Alexander-Arnold

With the new year comes the commencement of our Under the Spotlight (UtS) series – yesterday’s announcement that Trent Alexander-Arnold won the Premier League Player of the Month for December gives us a neat starting point.

Playing four-and-a-half Premier League matches during a packed month for Liverpool, Trent recorded a goal, three assists and three clean sheets (because he only played 50 minutes in the victory at Bournemouth, he doesn’t officially receive credit for the team’s CS there). Other candidates for the award were strong – De Bruyne, Ings, Vardy – but we feel his numbers make him worthy of the soon-hallowed AlphaStack spotlight.

Liverpool won all five of the games TAA took part in. He started and logged one of his assists in the Merseyside derby which finished 5-2, and came off the bench in Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Bournemouth, playing 50 minutes. He put in solid performances when Liverpool hosted Watford and Wolves but it’s really the Boxing Day clash with Leicester that put Trent in the conversation at all for the Player of the Month award. Liverpool brushed the Foxes aside in what had been identified as a potential banana skin, with Trent laying on two assists and grabbing himself a goal.

In SportStack Terms

How have these performances translated to SportStack, though? We believe per-minute and per-90 statistics hold a substantial amount of value on SportStack. In most cases, headline averages can only be used as a very rough guide; statistics adjusting for playing time offer far more information.

Trent has played almost every minute this season, meaning his per-90 payout is very close to his season average of 57p. We notice, though, that his per-90 payout in December was 63.2p, up from 56.7p in the season up to the end of November. For some context, only Kevin De Bruyne had a higher per-90 payout of the other seven PotM candidates, at 68.5p/90mins. One day, when SportStack sponsors the award, perhaps this will be the criteria upon which the winner is chosen!

The chart below shows Trent’s per-90 payouts for the August – November period, and the month of December, broken down by action. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of his payouts come from ball recoveries, CBIs, and passes, with a decent contribution from goal involvements. Notably, though, in December, his per-90 payout from CBIs dropped from nearly 12p to around 7p, while negative contributions from goals conceded fell from 4p to 2p.

These differences reflect Liverpool dominating their opposition in December even more than they usually do. During December, Liverpool averaged 64% possession, compared to 55% in the months prior, while expected goals for and against became more favourable – and they continued to outperform the xG metrics as they have all season. Fewer goals conceded is bound to help a players’ payout. In Trent’s case, Liverpool’s greater ball dominance against teams like Watford, Bournemouth, and even Leicester, starved him of opportunities to register CBIs. When Liverpool, and TAA in particular did have the ball, they used it well. Really well.

What to Expect

Having gone into December with one goal and five assists under his belt already, Trent ended the year with a bumper month for goal involvements (largely due to one game). He nearly matched his August-to-November figures in December. This is shown in the chart, where goal and assists payouts per 90 mins both increased by about 3p.

Expected goals data suggests Trent’s assist figures last month were aided by clinical finishing, rather than him creating clear-cut chances. We have got used to Liverpool finishing well over the last few seasons, so a continuation of the team’s December form in front of goal isn’t unthinkable, but it is unlikely. This should see Trent’s assist figures settle down.

Similarly, Trent’s xG was 2.02 at the end of December. Prior to the Leicester game we might have considered him to be due a goal; he took his opportunity with aplomb at the King Power, putting him right on course for the season. He poses a reasonable goal threat (particularly given he is a right-back) but it’s certainly not reliable enough for risk/reward to favour the SportStack trader when his buy price is regularly north of 54/55p.

Conclusion

These figures all point to Trent’s December performance being somewhat out of the ordinary, even for a player of his quality. Ahead of him, he has a couple of big games – a trip to Spurs and a visit from Man United – and a run of favourable fixtures through February where, again, Liverpool could assert their dominance.

We must leave you guys to make your own decisions on Trent over the coming months, but our view is that the Leicester game was something of an anomaly, and was pretty much the sole reason for him winning the Player of the Month award. To make good money off TAA he really needs to register a goal involvement, which is historically a tricky thing to predict. For that reason, we’ll be looking elsewhere for profitable opportunities!

#sport #football #TAA #Liverpool #SportStack

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