“I think I got robbed!” – Behind Liverpool’s new friendly full-back rivalry

Beyond Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold at first-team level, Liverpool have a new pair of competitive full-backs pushing themselves to improve.

Every season, Liverpool’s two first-choice full-backs have a competition over who can finish the season with the most assists.

Alexander-Arnold has won in each of the last four seasons, but the healthy rivalry between him and Robertson has spurred them on to a remarkable level – in three of those four seasons, both have assisted at least 10 goals.

They are an inspiration to a new generation of full-backs, and that extends to the Reds’ academy, where left-back Owen Beck and right-back Conor Bradley have a similar bet.

This season, with eight league assists to Beck’s three, Bradley emerged as the winner, earning a nomination for the Premier League 2 Player of the Season award.

“I think I got robbed!” Beck told This Is Anfield, reflecting on the shortlist for the end-of-season prize.

“I feel like me and Con have both had a great season this year.

“We’ve both had plenty of assists and goals and stuff, but we work each other in training as well.

“So when we’re training against each other and stuff like that, we always push each other to our limits.

“I feel like I’ve had a good season myself.”

Beck spoke to This Is Anfield outside Anfield’s Main Stand on a sunny Thursday morning, at the unveiling of a new mural dedicated to his great-uncle, Ian Rush.

As Liverpool’s all-time leading goalscorer and one of the club’s greatest-ever players, Rush has set an unenviable benchmark for his great-nephew, who has enjoyed a standout campaign with the under-23s.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 22, 2021: Liverpool players react as Diogo Jota scores the decisive penalty in the shoot-out after the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The 19-year-old has also trained on a regular basis with Jurgen Klopp‘s first team, and came off the bench against both Preston and Leicester on the road to the League Cup final.

With both Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas ahead of him in the pecking order, it is a tough task for Beck to break through into the senior setup on a full-time basis.

But both he and Bradley – who could soon have new competition for the right-back berth in Calvin Ramsay, the Aberdeen teenager on Liverpool’s radar this summer – are spurred on by the standards set at Kirkby.

“The training, all the time, every time I’ve been around there, it’s incredible,” Beck explained.

“They’re winning things and stuff, so the vibe around training is good, everyone’s happy.”