Gone are the days where defenders are only supposed to defend. These days, fullbacks are lauded for their ability to bomb forward to support the attach as pseudo-wingers, and center backs are are praised for their skills on the ball. Liverpool just happen to be blessed by arguably the best fullback pairing in Europe in Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Between the two, they provided 23 assists in the league last season. For Trent, the young Scouse defender who grew up a stone’s throw from Melwood, that’s not enough offensive output.
“Scoring more goals is something I’d like to improve,” said Alexander-Arnold. “The modern-day full-back needs to be so attacking, needs to offer a lot to the side, whether that be chances created, assists, passes, through balls. Why not take it a step further and add four or five goals in to help the team?”
Trent’s ability from dead ball situations should certainly help add to the tally. He scored one free kick last season, and is usually the right-footed option. A tactical wrinkle that could help put Alexander-Arnold in positions to score is how the team is using him to underlap Jordan Henderson. The trend to tuck the young fullback inside into a playmaking role started last season, but seems to have been emphasized in the early going this year. This has allowed him to get into more dangerous positions to combine with the forwards, and even burst into the box himself from time to time.
While he wants to increase his offensive output through his goal tally, young Trent is not shirking his defensive duties.
“I enjoy the attacking side of being a full-back more but I understand that the defensive side is more important,” said Alexander-Arnold. “Without a solid foundation, you are going to have to outscore teams 5-4, 4-3 and we don’t want that.”
To help himself understand the nuances of the position, both offensively and defensively, Liverpool’s number 66 has picked out two of the best ever to emulate: Dani Alves and Phillip Lahm.
“Our analysts would clip together Alves’ best work of the season for me to study. Positional stuff, decision-making, runs. I focused more on Lahm defensively and Alves in the attacking sense.”
Given Trent’s career trajectory, up and coming fullbacks will probably be studying him in the not too distant future.