The full-backs are at the heart of Liverpool’s creative hub, when they thrive so does the team but when they’re lacking that thrust and influence, it is glaringly obvious.
Such is their importance, they play more often than not. Too often you could say, and statistics back that up, despite Klopp’s previous warning in 2020.
“Robbo and Trent, let’s say, they cannot play every season 50-something games—it would limit their careers, to be honest, even when they come through,” Klopp said at the time.
But since the start of 2020/21, Robertson has played 104 club games (8,819 minutes) and 25 internationals (2,190 mins), while Alexander-Arnold has played 99 matches for Liverpool (8,622 mins) and eight for England (528 mins).
That level is not sustainable if you want to see the pair continue to reach new heights and play with any consistency, and it is in part why Klopp is eager to use the options he does have.
“We have to [manage his minutes], where can we change in the moment with the players coming in and coming back?” Klopp told reporters of Alexander-Arnold after his 59th-minute derby substitution.
“Milly can play in midfield and both full-back positions so we just thought again, like in the last game, it makes sense to bring in fresh legs there. That’s why we decided it like this.
“Trent is playing all the time, Robbo is playing all the time and from time to time, like we have in the moment, we have alternatives there so that’s why we have to use them.
“That’s why we have to use them to bring fresh energy on the pitch, pretty much. It’s nothing to do with his performance, even when I know Trent can play better than today definitely but it’s nothing to do with that.
“It’s just we have to get through this period, how it is, because, yes, players are coming back but they have to be reintegrated.”
With Alexander-Arnold only 23 and Robertson aged 28, Liverpool need to see the bigger picture and that they have played the full 90 minutes just three and two times respectively this season shows they are trying to do just that.
It’s a fine balance to strike amid a relentless schedule, but expect to see more full-back rotation from Klopp during games and from match to match as the minutes are clearly catching up to both the No. 66 and No. 26.