At least one premium Liverpool defender is looking like it could be an essential pick this season. This can be stripped down too Trent Alexander-Arnold (TAA) or Andrew Robertson, although would not discount Virgil Van Dijk from proceedings either. I will task a little about clean sheets and then compare the attacking output of the three giving you all the facts to make the best decision.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – The Playmaking Fullback
TAA is developing into one of, if not the best full-back in world football. I think the scary thing right now is he still has room to develop. From an FPL perspective he is gold and will rightly so be a popular pick. He creates lots of chances and also is Liverpools main free-kick taker. I personally think that he should have been at least £8m in price so that it was a bigger decision to include him.
I think that at £7.5m its a no brainer to include him, he is effectively a winger, on free-kicks, who gets clean sheet points. Unless you leave money in the bank from the off, it will be difficult to raise the funds to get him. But do not just take my word for it lets have a look at his data.
Above is his recorded passes from Liverpools 3-1 victory at The Amex stadium at the back end of the season. Passing wise Trent is averaging a shade over 65 passes a game in the Premier League, with an average accuracy rate of 74%.
Trent gets through his fai share of creative passes, he crosses on average 6.78 times a game, finding his man 30% of the time. This likely aids his average shots created per match of 2.06. Creatively TAA is outstanding, to put his numbers into context from an FPL perspective Willian who costs £8.0m, crosses per game 2.69, shot assists 1.95, xA 7.72, 6 assists.
Creatively its a no contest but the caveat is that TAA is not the goal scorer Willian is which I will discuss below. However that shows you what a creative asset you are buying add into that the clean sheets. It’s a no brainer, the real question is do you want only 1 Liverpool defender.
Ok so maybe I over-egged that he is effectively a winger but he gets pretty far forward. His main job is to go forward and create for the team. The basic numbers from TAA’s season where a return of 4 goals and 13 assists in the league. Averaging 0.11 goals per game and 0.34 assists. His xG for the season was nothing to write home about as he accrued 2.49.
His attacking data is really positive as you would expect as the highest priced defender. Above you can see his shot map for the season, a lot of those were free-kicks however I was surprised by how many shots in the box he is actually having, albeit only scoring once from that position. This data is from the Premier League only.
To continue the Willian comparison this is where he hands down beats TAA, Willian generated 8.12 xG whilst scoring 9 goals from 70 shots at goal. He may get left behind in the goal scoring stakes but when you consider his clean sheet potential he will more than bridge that gap.
When it comes to Trent I think that is what you have to consider him as a mid-priced midfielder. In that bracket I do not see many beating him.
Andrew Robertson is currently one of the best full-backs in the world. He has come a long way in a short time since he moved to Liverpool. I remember the first few times I watched him for Hull City and I thought he had potential, but never thought he would be a key component in a title winning team.
He only costs 0.5m less than Trent, I think that price is just about right but also highlights why Trent should be a notch higher. Robertson’s output from last season was great. 10 assists and 2 goals is superb from a full-back, for the xG crowd Robertson accrued 1.48 and 6.26 xA respectively. A slight overperformance with his xA but not surprising in this Liverpool team.
He provides a vital service on that left hand side, he actually gets through more passes on average per game than TAA, averaging 67. But his long passes are significantly down on Trents with a 5.58 average recorded compared to 12.7. He also gets through less crossing per game with an average of 5.04 compared to TAA 6.78. With a comparable average accuracy of 31.6. He also Liverpool’s corner taker along with Trent depending on if they want in-swinger or an out-swinger from the respective sides. He created less shots per game on average than Trent recording 1.54 to TAA’s 1.95.
Robbo or TAA
To me its a straight forward choice, you go with Trent over Robbo. I think the question you should be asking yourself is should you be going with both. Id reckon you will have the best part of 25 assists, in the range of 5-10 goals and Liverpool surely good for over 15 clean sheets.
I am actually of the opinion that Trent is a viable captain option, I put the armband on him several times last season. I think also when you are looking at putting them in your teams you should be comparing them to relatively priced midfielders as I have, to get a better picture.
If you are only set on going one however I think it has to be Trent, you just get slightly more attacking output and also fair share of free-kicks. The only way I would go Robbo is if I absolutely needed the 0.5m and could not raise it elsewhere. But even then I am sure I could find it.
The other argument I guess to save cash is to get Virgil Van Dijk. He does offer attacking threat from set-pieces. VVD scored 5 goals last season in the league recording an xG of 3.9 (shotmap above). All 5 goals were headers and 4 of them where from set-pieces and 2 of the goals were against Brighton. I think he is a huge threat from set-pieces and would expect similar returns.
Personally given prices I am much more a fan of having Robbo and TAA but if you need a cash relief VVD is definitely an alternative. But you are now armed with all the stats that you need to make your own choice.
Like I have already stated I think there is good reason to be going both. Whether that is from the off or not is a different matter. It is strange times we live in right now and this will not be your typical start to the season with all what is going on in the world.
I think this season will be one of long-term planning. I am usually an advocate of going all out from the start and attacking but I do think that this could be the season of playing the long game. For me that means I will probably get 2 Liverpool defenders in from the start. I will write my team article once I feel close to its final iteration.
Anyway I hope this aids your selection of a Liverpool defender or not.