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Alexander-Arnold reminds us why we love football outside of the drama | Jonathan liew

There was a trap Liverpool bus. This was what caused his tires to be cut by Manchester United fans on an alley near Old Trafford.

Unmarked and unannounced, the real Liverpool bus sneaked through the rear entrance to avoid hundreds of protesters ahead.

United also operated several fake buses to service between the hotel and the stadium. The players traveled in their own cars and arrived six hours ago. On the way, riot vans and police horses scrambled to keep the crowd out. Two arrests were made. Remind me. Why were we doing all this again?

This is, perhaps, the dominant theme of this last eight months of plague football: the uncertain feeling somewhere in the midst of numerous twists and unsatisfactory compromises, the eternal what and where and when, why we put it in the wrong place . Feed buses. On Thursday at 8.15 pm, the match was postponed because the fans stopped it. Is this weird? Is this normal? What are we all doing here? Naturally, many of these uncertainties persist. But somehow a certain logic also emerged between six goals and illegal fun.

Liverpool returned to their first race four. United staggers towards the end of the season like a 58 team playing on the smoke. Harry Maguire is more important than we think. And after the toughest season of his career, Trent Alexander-Arnold has taken the storm.

Tired legs, tired minds, tired bodies, tired consciences: these became the motifs of the Liverpool epidemic, the more you look at it, the more barely readable clutter of lower points that seem meaningless. And despite all the turbulence and resentment on the field, Liverpool looked painfully tame on Liverpool: swallowed in a rain of back passes and desperate crosses, a team trying some same things, with increasing hope that it would somehow click.

For most of the first half hour, this game was seen to follow a similar pattern. United scored a goal, Bruno Fernandes provided the little inventive move the game desperately needed. Liverpool swelled, swollen and passed and passed. They received a penalty that was deleted by the VAR. It felt like one of those nights. But from a messy fixed track situation, Diogo Jota passed the ball past Dean Henderson with an instinctive heel movement. This was a fulcrum if nothing else.

Few players have embodied Liverpool's pain this season as faithfully as Alexander-Arnold. One minute you're a virtual unknown; next, you are one of the hottest football facilities on the planet and perhaps the most famous corner in history; You lost your place in the next England and everyone basically agreed that you cannot defend it. This is a familiar cycle of explosions and declines that many claim to be gifted 22-year-old in the past. But somehow in the last few weeks, something stirred within him: a courage and resilience that we might expect to see, but not necessarily in such a short time. Alexander-Arnold stood on a free kick from the right. There was a small strut as he approached the ball, the small flutter of his ankle only causing a little too much swing. You didn't need to be an experienced Alexander-Arnold viewer to realize that this is again a player who is comfortable with the game. Firmino's title was perfect, and in retrospect, perhaps this was the moment Liverpool found its purpose. Oh wait. Yes. It was supposed to work like this. For 90 minutes plus change, Old Trafford was Alexander-Arnold's play.

Firmino. A scandalous step to send Paul Pogba to ice cream. An incredible pass from the hill to Sadio Mané. He threw a few rakish at the target. Five key transitions. And as Gareth Southgate watches and mumbles from the stands, a reminder that he doesn't just raise his own game; it also elevates the others.

Most of the criticisms Alexander-Arnold received this season were measured by the standards he set himself. Let's take a moment to remember how exciting high-string action it created for him: quarterback, midfielder, set collector, last trench defender, inexhaustible engine. This is a role that only a handful of players on the planet can play even at a proficient level. Meanwhile, in one of his supposedly worst seasons, he still tops the Liverpool rankings in terms of chances created, intervention, intervention and forward passes.

And as an extreme second half emerged, something else was there as well. : an unbridled sense of pleasure that seems to create its own clarity around it. Marcus Rashford is galloping. Mo Salah finished fourth.

Jürgen Klopp goes to the banana at the touchline. Scott McTominay was wildly chasing the game like a man who accidentally got on a trap bus. And at the center of it all, Alexander-Arnold: playing like a man who reinvented football. It was good. It was fun. And you realized: maybe that was the purpose of everything.

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