For the first time in a long time, Liverpool have legitimate competition at the left-back position. But despite Alberto Moreno’s blazing renaissance to start the season, LFC Transfer Room’s Karan Singh Uka (@K16_LFC) believes Andrew Robertson has made the position his own with a blend of passion, endeavor, and composure that’s long since been absent down the Liverpool left.
Moreno’s blistering start
It has been a long time since the left-back position has been a comfortable one for Liverpool. You may have to go back to the days of John Arne Riise and Fabio Aurelio to find a time when there was healthy competition for this spot.
At the start of this season, the idea of Alberto Moreno competing with Andy Robertson for the left-back spot, with James Milner as extra cover, would not have been sufficient — but things have gone a bit differently than expected.
We all assumed Moreno would be on his way out last summer, but the Spaniard proved doubters wrong by forcing his way back into the starting XI and being one of the more consistent performers in the early parts of the season.
Alberto Moreno. Joint top assist provider in this season's Champions League. pic.twitter.com/LKjyQCyXyM
— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) November 1, 2017
Despite Liverpool’s suspect defense leaking goals early on, Moreno was not at fault for any of them, which is rather astonishing considering his checkered past with the club. A case could even be made for him being the Reds’ best defender during this period, it even led to him being recalled to the Spanish national side.
Forced to bide his time
At £8 million from Hull City, Andy Robertson may have been considered an underwhelming signing at first; however, he has been anything but that. After being frustrated by Moreno’s return to form, which often kept the Scotsman completely out of the matchday squad, Robertson has grasped his chance with both hands after Moreno’s injury.
Upon Robertson’s arrival, he was described by most to be ‘an attacking full-back’ with his crossing ability being highly praised, but judging by what we have seen from him recently, this does not do his defensive abilities justice.
Teams have tried to target him but have failed every time, with a prime example of this coming against Everton in the FA Cup. Yannick Bolasie was given the job of ‘exposing’ Robertson, but the crafty winger came off second best against the Scot almost every time.
This was arguably Robertson’s best performance in a red shirt to that point, but he managed to better it in the next match, coming up against Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling. Whatever you think of Sterling, he has been in excellent form this season, and many defenders may have crumbled coming up against him. Robertson did anything but, keeping the former Reds’ winger quiet all game. And of course, we’ll never forget ‘that’ run which has led to Robertson already becoming a cult hero with the fans singing his name on the Kop.
A pillar of consistency
Robertson has shown that he will not back down under pressure. Moreno, despite all the positive performances this season, has shown us that his weaknesses can still be exposed. He has looked slightly nervous in games where he has had his work cut out defensively.
The circumstances and emotion surrounding his return to Sevilla made us hopeful that his nightmare performance was a one-off, but he also appeared slightly shaky in some other games, namely away at Hoffenheim, when he was given a torrid time by Serge Gnabry.
Moreno’s return to the team against West Brom in the FA Cup was seen as a chance to show Jürgen Klopp that he was still very much in contention to be the club’s first-choice left-back, but Moreno once again appeared to crumble under the pressure, delivering a less than convincing display. In fairness, Liverpool’s entire defensive unit crumbled that evening, so the blame isn’t solely on the Spaniard.
My personal take
I have impressed by Moreno at times this season, and his genuine love for the club has earned my respect as well. At the same time, I feel far less nervous seeing Robertson starting at left-back. He reminds me in some ways of Steve Finnan — someone who often went under the radar but always gave solid performances, week-in week-out, and was comfortable in both defence and attack. If the former Dundee United man can have a Liverpool career anything like Finnan’s, it is fair to say the Reds are in safe hands in that position for the foreseeable future.
Robertson seems to be the preferred choice of most Liverpool fans at the moment, and the fact that he started against Huddersfield suggests he may be the starting left-back from now on; however, we all know that Klopp likes to rotate his players, so we may have a better idea of who starts at left-back in the long-term after the coming weeks.