Liverpool will be playing with a target on their backs this season as they start their defence of the Premier League title. That’s the belief of Trent Alexander-Arnold, who believes the Reds don’t have to think about bettering last year’s points total.
Liverpool take on Leeds United on Saturday in their first league title defence in 30 years.
The Reds won at a canter last season, finishing 18 points ahead of second-placed Manchester City.
They only lost once before wrapping up the title, dominating proceedings on their way to the crown.
And Alexander-Arnold believes their opponents will be playing with targets on their backs this year, because teams will have an added incentive to beat them.
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He told Sky Sports that the Reds won’t be focusing on trying to beat last campaign’s achievements, despite having finished just a point shy of the 100-point record.
The 21-year-old conceded that retaining the title will be a bigger challenge than winning it in the first place, and called on his team-mates to keep their minds focused on winning.
“For us it’s not about topping the points that we got or scoring more goals, it’s about if we can all develop as a team and keep winning,” Alexander-Arnold told Sky Sports News.
“We need to keep that mentality, that is the main thing that helped us get this far.
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“We know that there’s now a big target on our backs being the champions and teams are going to be extra motivated when they play us, so we need to match that mentality and take it to the next step.
“Winning it back-to-back is harder than winning it once.”
Liverpool have been fairly quiet in the transfer window so far, having only purchased Kostas Tsimikas for £11million while Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana departed on free transfers.
But Alexander-Arnold believes the club’s young squad will be more than capable of dealing with the pressure of the title defence.
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“I’ve never really judged a player on his age and said if you’re under 21 you can’t be leader,” he continued.
“Leadership comes in different shapes and sizes and forms, whether that be through actions or words.
“Two massive personalities and senior players have departed the club and we know those gaps probably need to be filled but there is more than enough players, we have a full squad of leaders.
“That won’t be a problem for us, we’ve got the players that will step up and make sure everyone is focused and doing the right thing on a day-to-day basis.”
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