Examining how Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson will play under Arne Slot

  • Liverpool have relied heavily on their fullbacks under Klopp and that is not going to change under Arne Slot
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold has already shown he can thrive in the hybrid role that Slot’s system calls for from right-back
  • Arne Slot’s tactics are well suited to both Robertson and Alexander-Arnold and we should see them continue to play well
Fulham FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Fulham FC v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Gaspafotos/MB Media/GettyImages

Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool’s full-backs were a key part of the club’s success.

Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold consistently provided assists for a firing forward line.

With Arne Slot giving us a glimpse of his system in his inaugural press conference, how will Liverpool’s left-back and right-black play under him?

How they worked at Feyenoord

During his first press conference as Liverpool manager, Slot dispelled the idea that his system fits into an established 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 mould.

Last season Slot’s tactics provided fluidity and unpredictability first and foremost for its components. This kind of chaos will be familiar to Liverpool fans.

This is the next evolution in management after the pressing and passing styles of Klopp and Pep Guardiola.

The right-back in Slot’s system received a lot of flexibility, depending on what each game required.
Sometimes the right-back played like an inverted full-back, other times they went out wide to create space.

Arne Slot
Feyenoord v Excelsior Rotterdam - Dutch Eredivisie / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Lutsharel Geertruida, Feyenoord’s first-choice right-back was in the 99th percentile for progressive passes compared to other full-backs in the top leagues.

Geertruida’s average position in their 2-2 draw at eventual champions PSV Eindhoven saw him in the channel and more advanced than the Feyenoord left- back.

Home games against smaller sides saw Geertruida playing more narrowly, playing close to the right-centre back and right centre-midfielder.

Right-back Geertruida would then feed the ball out wide for right-winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who would in-turn create the width. It was a fluid and smooth system.

The left-back Marcos Lopez was a little more consistent in his approach, providing width and support for the attack, without doing anything too wild.

How it could work at Liverpool

I would argue that right-back was the most flexible position in Liverpool’s last season under Klopp.

Trent Alexander-Arnold found himself in a ‘quarterback’ role in some games, and closer to his traditional position of marauding down the right in others, without creating as much width as he did in the halcyon days of Klopp 1.0.

It wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to see Trent playing the flexible right-back role largely played by Geertruida last season.

I would like to see Trent play further wide while Liverpool are in possession in the bigger games. Slot might well agree.

Jurgen Klopp, Trent Alexander-Arnold
Liverpool FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

He will play more centrally in games where Liverpool are more dominant like he oft did in Klopp’s final season.

It enables him to get on the ball and dictate the play in games where Liverpool think about being on the back foot a little bit less.

At left-back, we know that Robertson can provide support for the left-winger. His position should largely be unchanged under Slot. His attacking forays will still be encouraged in this system, albeit a bit more controlled.

How it affects the bigger picture

The versatility offered by Slot’s right-back adds to the unpredictability offered by his teams more widely.

The lack of changing it up is often where Liverpool came unstuck last season, at their worst seemingly predictable in attack and wide-open at the back.

Andy Robertson
West Ham United v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Chloe Knott - Danehouse/GettyImages

This is the next big idea in coaching, with less of a focus on one style of pre-rehearsed attack as we often saw with the byline cross moves under Klopp.

Slot’s system will offer greater propensity for more passing combinations and ways of breaking an opposition down.

Slot’s is the right philosophy for Liverpool at this time, enough evolution to keep moving forward, but a similar enough system as to not be too much of a leap for Liverpool’s current crop.

The full-backs are the epitome of that.