Liverpool’s Modern Day Full-Backs: A Dual Headed Weapon

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By Leanne Prescott

Twitter – @_lfcleanne

The term ‘modern-day full-back’ is one of increasing use within the game of football, marking the development of a role originally fixated solely on offering defensive diligence to one with a strong emphasis on involvement in the final-third.

It is a position few grow up wanting to occupy, with Andy Robertson’s jovial suggestion that ‘no-one wants the left back’s shirt’ indicative of the self-sacrifice it entails.

Alas, expectations of direct contributions at both ends of the field alongside unwavering positional awareness to sniff out the danger and capitalise on gaps left by opponents make it one of football’s less glamorous roles.

Yet, in a season that sees Liverpool immersed in an enthralling title-challenge with Manchester City, few would have any qualms over the importance of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, whose attacking verve has been pivotal to success.

That was wholly evident in the 5-0 thumping of Watford, where Trent underlined his qualities upon returning to the starting eleven. Where James Milner failed to make good of the opportunities and space gifted to him at Old Trafford, the 20-year-old delivered at every time of asking, providing a continual avenue of attack.

A pinpoint delivery followed by the deftest of crosses to deceive the entire Watford back-line, leaving Sadio Mane with time and space to produce a scintillating back-heel ensured he had two assists under his belt before the interval, while a late free-kick left Van Dijk with the simplest of finishes, ensuring Trent became the youngest Premier League player to notch three assists in a single game.



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One of the most all-rounded performances from a full-back this season, it marked quite the return for the Scouser, who touched the ball (102) and created more chances (5) than any other player on the pitch.

Meanwhile, the £8million signing of Andy Robertson continues to look like one of the bargains of the century, with the Scotsman now on eight assists for the campaign. Although the first was merely a simple pass to Divock Origi, it represented the awareness and selflessness of a player who has burst onto the scene at Anfield, turning a position of perennial weakness into one of strength.

Only six players across the whole of the division have created more goals than him: Eden Hazard, Christian Eriksen, Ryan Fraser, Paul Pogba, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, with Jose Holebas the next highest defender on six assists, equivalent to Trent’s total.

Five goals, all of which were assisted by the full-backs, this was the type of performance that reaffirmed their importance to Klopp’s high-octane system, stretching the opposition while displaying both quality and awareness to pick out a teammate.

The marauding duo are more than just full-backs; they encompass the perfect collaboration of defensive discipline and attacking ingenuity. In Trent, Liverpool have a play who enhances their win rate by 11% when in the team while no defender has created more goals or chances in open play than Robertson.

Crucially, both have recently signed five-year contract extensions, worthy recognition for the work and contribution made amid a period where the club have shown intent to tie down their best players rather than unnecessarily part ways with them as in previous years.

A dual-headed weapon, Jurgen Klopp is reaping the rewards of two modern-day full-backs, both of whom have established themselves as crucial components of Liverpool’s title challenge.

Should the Reds go all the way, it’ll be in no small part to them.

By Leanne Prescott

Twitter – @_lfcleanne

 

 

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