3 things we learned as Trent & Robbo discuss redefining the full-back role

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Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson have detailed how they fine-tuned their brilliance as full-backs in a superb interview with Rio Ferdinand.

Alexander-Arnold and Robertson have been influential players during the Jurgen Klopp era at Anfield, marauding down either flank and more often than not linking up with one another.

Not only that, but the pair have an extremely close relationship off the pitch, as their frequent social media exchanges prove.

It has been a meteoric rise for both Alexander-Arnold and Robertson, with the former moving through Liverpool’s academy and the latter excelling since signing from relegated Hull City in 2017.

And in a fascinating conversation with Ferdinand for BT Sport, the Reds duo discussed various topics, including the changing role of the full-back.

Here are three things that stood out…

 

Assist-making brilliance

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 29, 2020: Liverpool’s Andy Robertson during the FA Community Shield match between FA Premier League Champions Liverpool FC and FA Cup Winners Arsenal FC. The game was played behind closed doors. (Credit: Eddie Keogh/The FA)

While both players are outstanding in various facets of their play, it is their ability to consistently lay on assists for team-mates that stands out most.

Alexander-Arnold (35) and Robertson (32) have notched 67 assists between them for Liverpool.

Earlier in the year, Alexander-Arnold spoke about wanting to redefine the role of a full-back with Robertson, putting to bed Jamie Carragher’s claim that “nobody wants to grow up to be a Gary Neville.”

It’s fair to say that they are doing exactly that, with a graphic showing that while Neville and Patrice Evra averaged a goal or assist every 660 and 620 minutes during their Man United days, the Liverpool pair are currently registering one every 187 and 222 minutes, respectively.

That is partly due to the attacking license given to full-backs in the modern game, as Robertson accepts, but the coaching of Klopp is also pointed out, in terms of timing passes and crosses into the box.

 

Switching play

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 12, 2020: Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, wearing the number 66, during the opening FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 4-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A common sight during Liverpool games is Alexander-Arnold and Robertson pinging cross-field balls to each other, with Salah’s goal at home to Man City last season a prime example of it paying off.

Alexander-Arnold confirms that it is a tactical move set out before matches, claiming that “if it happens against us, it’s 40 or 50 yards of running to get to the other side. Everything shifts.”

The 22-year-old has the intelligence to work out what he wouldn’t like to face and use it to his own advantage, highlighting his footballing intelligence.

It opens up the pitch, catching opponents unaware, and if you have the quality of Alexander-Arnold and Robertson from out wide, there is suddenly space to wreak havoc.

 

Winning mentality

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, May 7, 2019: Liverpool's Andy Robertson (L), Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' (C) and FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi (R) during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Barcelona at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Away from their brilliance as technical players, Alexander-Arnold and Robertson are also born winners with an edge to their game.

Both appear to be bad losers, certainly from the outside looking in, and they will never shy away from confrontation on the pitch.

Discussing the unforgettable 4-0 win over Barcelona, Robertson is adamant that the players felt “something special was going to happen,” such was the level of belief in the squad.

The Scot famously ruffled the feathers of Lionel Messi on that incredible night, shoving the legendary Argentine and showing him that his reputation meant nothing.

While Robertson has some “regret” over the incident, he also says he did it in order to “have an effect on the game” in a positive manner for Liverpool, showing his sheer will to win.

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