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Liverpool’s elite full-backs prove why it’s modern football’s most important position

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are unrivalled in the Premier League

It speaks volumes that when Liverpool were awarded a late free-kick in a promising position on Sunday, there was uproar both at Anfield and online that a 20-year-old right-back wasn’t stood over the ball.

For some reason Divock Origi, of all people, took responsibility, duly curling a tame effort into the Spurs wall which deflected away for a corner.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was nowhere to be seen, but that was hardly in keeping with the rest of his performance.


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Mr Whippy

AFP or licensors
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Mr Whippy

He and Andy Robertson on the opposite flank ran Spurs ragged, operating as auxiliary wingers yet never once neglecting their defensive duties.

Both exemplify the changing role of the modern full-back.

The era of the disciplined but limited full-back – the Gary Neville’s of this world – is long gone. This is the age of the suped-up version.

In tandem

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In tandem

A lot has been made of Liverpool’s struggles in midfield this season and the tried and trusted trio of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum struggled once again against Spurs.

Their like-for-like nature means the creativity burden has fallen instead on the shoulders of their young full-backs.

Robertson’s outrageous cross for Roberto Firmino’s opener means he and Alexander-Arnold have now registered 15 league assists between them this season.

Nine assists this season

AP:Associated Press
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Nine assists this season

The Scot has nine of those, bettered only by Eden Hazard, Ryan Fraser and Christian Eriksen, whilst TAA picked up three in one game against Watford in late February.

At times it feels the duo are here, there and everywhere, always offering an attacking outlet yet still making crucial defensive interventions.

Alexander-Arnold’s vital tackle halted Lucas Moura in the first half while Robertson’s last-gasp block on Eriksen in the second was as good as a goal.

Best in the league?

Getty - Contributor
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Best in the league?

The likes of Marcelo, Dani Alves and Joshua Kimmich have revolutionised the role in recent years and Liverpool’s defensive double act are following in their footsteps.

Pep Guardiola spent £130m on full-backs alone in 2017 after recognising its growing influence.

No man loves full-backs more

Reuters
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No man loves full-backs more

Jamie Carragher once quipped that ‘nobody wants to grow up to be a Gary Neville’, while right-back in particular has historically been revered as the worst position on the pitch. Take a throw in, don’t mess about with the ball, take another throw in.

Not anymore.

The demands have never been higher and Robertson and Alexander-Arnold are embracing everything thrown at them.

Ask Liverpool fans, but they probably wouldn’t swap either of them for anyone else in the world.

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Mane is copying Firmino’s celebrations again 😂

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