Is Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson the Premier League’s best left-back?
The Scottish defender has put in a string of impressive performances for the Reds this season, but just how influential has he been for the Merseyside club?
The struggles of Liverpool’s defence have not been confined to Jurgen Klopp’s tenure at the club. It was the vulnerable backline which was the ultimate Achilles heel for Brendan Rodgers’s side while his predecessors Kenny Dalglish and Roy Hodgson also did little to improve defensive discipline, nor personnel.
The defensive problems at Anfield have been a structural problem as much as any individual culpability and while fans will rightly laud strong statistics which show nine clean sheets in league matches at Anfield this season, this correlates with cautious approaches from lower-ranking opposition sides.
This season the Reds have shipped six league goals against Spurs and eight against Manchester City, while they conceded three at Arsenal, two at Manchester United and five in their Champions League ties with Sevilla. It is a familiar tale of woe which may be helped long-term with Virgil van Dijk’s addition but the one star of their defensive ranks this season has been Andrew Robertson.
The 24-year-old arrived at Anfield from relegated Hull City in the summer for a fee reported being near £8m. It was a deal which was low key and modest, one which appears to be reflected in the Glaswegian’s personality. Earlier this month, he donated a signed Liverpool shirt of Reds teammate Roberto Firmino to a young boy who had given his pocket money to a local food bank. “Well, nobody would want the full-back’s shirt,” he wittingly remarked.
Yet this is a player who has shown level-headedness both on and off the pitch. He played second fiddle this season firstly to the oft-criticised Alberto Moreno and then utility player James Milner before Moreno once again resumed the position. It was not until November that the Scot was given his opportunity and he has seized it with both hands.
Possessing high energy levels, his performance in the 4-3 victory over Manchester City was singled out for particular praise. His displays have shown a level of confidence and maturity which are rarely associated with players who make such a leap at club level. He has rarely placed a foot out of place and has received acclaim for his consistent performance level.
Robertson frequently likes to get forward, pinning opposition teams back in. He frequently overlaps both the middle and front three to fire dangerous deliveries into the box and he is equally adept at keeping possession. He is not as error-prone as Moreno and offers a balance which the right-footed Milner does not.
The former Dundee United is not without his flaws. He is suspect aerially and is often overly cautious when making tackles, which can give opposition attackers incentive to push forward. Yet equally his combination play and offensive threat have meant that sides often target the opposite flank as Manchester United did through Marcus Rashford in the recent league clash between the two.
At just 24 years of age and with just shy of 200 professional league games under his belt, there is little reason Robertson cannot nail down the position for both club and country for the best course of a decade.