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Trent Alexander-Arnoldseeing the benefits of humbling experience

Fitness boost:
Matip trains at
Melwood
yesterday

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD admits Liverpool were humbled by last month’s seven-goal thrashing but believes it helped them to ‘kick down doors’ again.

The champions have responded to the 7-2 defeat at Aston Villa a month ago by moving to the top of the Premier League as well as enjoying back-to-back Champions League wins, despite losing Virgil van Dijk to a serious knee injury.

And speaking on the eve of tonight’s Champions League trip to Atalanta, England defender Alexander-Arnold believes Liverpool are well on their way to turning their lowest moment into a positive.

‘There was a meeting when we came back [from international duty] but we always have a meeting anyway,’ he said.

‘To concede seven goals is unacceptable but it kind of humbled us as a team and let us know we can’t just win games because we are Liverpool, with our history and the players we’ve got. It is about mentality and the work we put in.

‘If we are not at 100 per cent, these things can happen. It wasn’t an outrageously bad performance from us but our mentality wasn’t there on the day and we got punished for it.

‘We’ve been able to focus on that. Our mentality has got us to where we are now. It has enabled us to come back from any position, to break through walls and kick down doors. Since that game we’ve been able to get back into that stride.’

The improvement has come despite injuries to centre-backs Van Dijk and Joel Matip, plus the versatile Fabinho.

‘Virgil is a massive player for us but when you miss such a leader, and probably the captain of the back four really, then it gives the rest of the back four an opportunity,’ added Alexander-Arnold.

‘If the players consistently in the back line can make sure Virgil isn’t missed as much as possible, it puts us in a good place. So far we’ve been able to do that.’

Liverpool could be boosted by Matip’s return for tonight’s tie as they look to make it three Group D wins out of three.

Midfielder Naby Keita also trained yesterday but boss manager Jurgen Klopp said: ‘I have really no idea what I do with this information in the moment because yes, they trained, that’s good, it’s better than if they don’t train.

‘A lot of players will be on the plane hopefully, and so decisions will be made late, late, late.’

■ 11 — Members of Ajax’s squad tested positive for Covid-19 before tonight’s Champions League trip to Midtjylland. The affected players have not been named but skipper Dusan Tadic and goalkeeper Andre Onana are among those left out.