Soccer-England's Alexander-Arnold experiment is not working

By Nick Said

FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuters) - England manager Gareth Southgate has a key decision to make after another below-par performance from Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield during Thursday’s 1-1 Euro 2024 Group C draw with Denmark.

Alexander-Arnold was by no means England's only poor performer as they took the lead for the second time in two games but allowed their opponents back into the match with a nervous display that does not bode well for bigger challenges ahead.

As was the case against Serbia in England's opening 1-0 win, Alexander-Arnold, who has spent most of his career at right back, was a virtual spectator. Having been given a second chance to help dominate the midfield, he was unable to gain the upper hand on the tenacious Danes and drifted out of the game.

It was no surprise when he was substituted out on 54 minutes and replaced by Conor Gallagher, so out of sorts did he seem with little of the spark in his play that makes him such a star for Liverpool.

Tournament football is not the time for experimentation, and Southgate must now decide if this switch is over or whether he will persevere in England's final group game against Slovenia on Tuesday.

His side are on the brink of a place in the round of 16, and that will be foremost in Southgate's mind. But solving his midfield puzzle is crucial if they are to make good on their promise to "bring it home".

Denmark did well to work themselves back into the contest after going behind but did not quite have enough to bury their stuttering opponents. Better teams will.

"We know we can improve," England captain Harry Kane told reporters. "I know there will probably be loads of noise and a bit of disappointment back home, but we experienced this in the last Euros as well when we drew to Scotland.

"We're starting games well, but when the teams are dropping deeper we're not quite sure how to get the pressure on."

The key to the second point is to find a way to work around teams that drop deep. But England ran out of ideas quickly in Frankfurt.

Kane is the consummate finisher and took his first-half goal well, but when he made way for the more mobile Ollie Watkins after 69 minutes England looked a danger again with Watkins' pace behind the defence - giving Southgate another question to ponder ahead of Slovenia.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Hugh Lawson)