Who Should be Liverpool’s Left-Back?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 03: Andrew Robertson of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Newcastle United at Anfield on March 3, 2018 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

This time last year, Hull City found themselves in a scrap at the foot of the Premier League table. Coach Marco Silva did his best to rally the side and some good results were achieved. However, the Tigers eventually ended the season in 18th place. Following their relegation from England’s top flight, they were bound to lose some key players.

Who Should be Liverpool’s Left-Back?

Andy Robertson, the Scottish international, was one of the stand-out players from that Hull side, and it was not long before the vultures were circling to pick at the freshly relegated club. Liverpool, in dire need of defensive reinforcements at the time, swooped for the 23-year-old left back. With Alberto Moreno frozen out of the first team by Jurgen Klopp’s decision to play utility man James Milner in defence last season, it looked as though establishing himself in the first team would be plain sailing for the former Queen’s Park youth player. The Reds paid just £8 million for his services.

Since his arrival on Merseyside, though, it has not been the straightforward task it might have seemed. Klopp favoured Moreno for the first part of the campaign and Robertson appeared only twice in the league before December.

Moreno’s Improvement

Despite Robertson’s disappointment, no one can deny that Moreno has come on leaps and bounds in his game. Few doubted his ability going forward for Liverpool, but this season, he now seems far more switched on and conscious of his defensive responsibility. The Spaniard’s play has visibly become less rash too. On his debut season for the Reds, Moreno averaged 1.3 fouls per league game, but this season has seen that halved to 0.6.

Moreno has certainly improved. The real concern around the former Sevilla man is his susceptibility to committing grave errors. Recently, Liverpool’s defence is not the rock that it was in years gone by, but Moreno proves time and time again that no matter how much he can improve, he cannot eliminate some of his disastrous decision making.

In the penultimate Champions League group game against his former club, Liverpool led by three goals at halftime. Moreno then proceeded to have one of his worst performances in a Liverpool shirt. His contribution left the Reds on the wrong end of an Istanbul-esque match, conceding the equaliser in added time. Therein lies the risk with Moreno.

On his day, he can change a match with his attacking contribution, and his defensive game is improving over time. One trait he seems unable to shake, though, is his occasional erratic performance. Over the course of a season this will cost his team several points.

Steady Andy Robertson

This is where Robertson can provide the solution. The Scot is a much calmer presence at left-back and although he has a lot of attacking capability, seems to be more aware of his defensive role despite being two years Moreno’s junior. Robertson is much more measured in his discipline too, having committed just 40 fouls in 72 Premier League appearances, for both Hull and Liverpool (Moreno has 74 in 85).

Robertson has also forged a strong playing relationship with Sadio Mané on Liverpool’s left flank. The two players have regularly linked up throughout the season and already have a strong understanding of one another. Mané’s high work rate also complements Robertson who covers a lot of ground too.

In fact, the trait which the Kop most respects about Robertson is his workmanship. In the dramatic 4-3 victory against Manchester City, Robertson hounded his man at left-back and pressed on the ball. City kept hold of possession but the flying Scotsman forced them backwards and chased until he found himself at City’s left-back position. This pressure brought rapturous applause from the home fans and made him an instant crowd favourite.

Verdict – Liverpool’s Left Back

Although Klopp favoured Moreno at the beginning of the season, he simply cannot risk playing the Spaniard when his competition is playing so well. Of Andy Robertson’s most recent performance in the Champions League, Klopp said that it was his best so far and that the left-back was the “whole package”. For now, at least, the Scot seems to have made the position his own.

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