INJURIES can have a massive impact on a football team, writes LACHLAN BALLINGALL.
As seen last season, injury and absence can derail a campaign. But, in another sense, it can also give backup players the opportunity to shine — assuming there is enough depth in the squad to cope with it.
When Alberto Moreno was forced off the field during Liverpool’s 7-0 thumping of Spartak Moscow in the Champions League back in early December, the door opened for a player who was, prior to that, simply not getting a look in.
That was Andrew Robertson, the left back signed from Hull City for a fee of £8million back in the summer.
Robertson spent the first few months watching on from the sidelines as he was still adapting to life at Liverpool. It was believed that Robertson would come in and compete with James Milner for the left-back spot, with Moreno reported to be on his way out, but the Spaniard’s performances during pre season saw Jürgen Klopp have a change of heart.
Robertson couldn’t really have any complaints as Moreno was playing to a high standard. If anything, the Scot’s arrival played a huge part in his new teammate’s resurgence, giving him the motivation needed to kickstart his Liverpool career.
The injury came at the worst time for Moreno. He was in his best run of form since arriving at Anfield, but now he’ll have to fight to win his spot back from Robertson — which can only be a good thing for The Reds.
Robertson’s first real opportunity to impress came against Crystal Palace at home when Moreno was rested. He impressed with the way he defended and complimented the attack, displaying his ability to cross the ball, which was the most pleasing aspect of his performance that day.
Prior to that though, Robertson was something of an unknown quantity. He was highly regarded at Hull but, with all due respect, that’s a completely different world to playing for Liverpool. Being part of a defensive unit that had to regular sit back and grind out results isn’t entirely transferable to being a part of Klopp’s “heavy metal” football.
Since Moreno’s injury, Robertson certainly hasn’t passed up on the opportunity to impress. In fact, his performances of late had gone somewhat under the radar. That was until the Merseyside derby where, although new signing Virgil van Dijk stole the headlines, the young Scot put in a fantastic display.
Throughout the game Robertson completed five out of his six challenges. He also had four clearances and one interception. He completed 89 per cent of his passes. He dealt with the threat of Yannick Bolasie superbly, when it seemed that Everton had singled out Liverpool’s left-hand side as the area they could get at in the first half.
However, the most about admirable aspect of his performance on the night was that he played as though he was involved in an all-or-nothing cup game against city rivals. Some players can go missing in those games but he really stood out.
Perhaps more surprisingly, Robertson has shown a bit of bite, something many supporters believe has all too often been absent among many of The Reds’ current crop. He was in the ref’s ear throughout the Leicester City game at Anfield on December 30, as The Foxes tried to run the clock down.
Robertson has also shown in both of those games that he’s not afraid to put a tackle in and — where Moreno has so often gone wrong in the past — is rarely caught out on the defensive end.
The signing of Robertson may go down as one of Klopp’s savviest bits of business during his tenure at Liverpool, but only time will tell.
Left back has been a problem position at Liverpool for too long, but Klopp now has two very talented lads to choose from.
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I dunno…Robertson feels like another Jon Flanagan in 13/14. He’s gonna have to do a lot more for me.
It’s good he’s played well but I’m not convinced there is much more of a level to come from him.
We’ll see and if he’s our left back going forward then that’s fine. I’m just not sold that getting in a refs ear is enough for a klopp side.
I’ve been very impressed with the lad. It is a huge step up for him but he’s played with confidence and shown that he belongs at this level. His performances have grown as he has bedded into the team and suggested that he is indeed the solution to our left back ‘problem’.
Having two decent players for every position is something that top sides demand, and he and Annie will do fine for me .
Couldn’t agree more. He’s also great at covering his centre backs, something I can’t recall Moreno ever doing effectively.
I think at the minute he is a solid 7 out of 10 hopefully he can be a consistent 8 in the future. That is more than enough from a left back
Quite simply – Robertson hasn’t put a foot wrong. He really does tick all the boxes at a young age as well. He even had a fantastic game at the start of the season, getting man of the match (can’t remember who against now) – and frustrating that his reward for that was to be benched and sometimes not even in the squad.
Yes Moreno has played well this campaign – but he is still lacking defensively and can leave gaping holes at the wrong times.
When Robertson is playing however, there is a much better look and feel in terms of balance for the defence and the team
This lad and VVD are the answer to the question we’ve been asking for a long long time.
So impressed with Robbo’s reading of the game defensively and natural instinct to cover space and the centre backs. Like Gomez you can see he is a natural defender. Expect the left side to benefit from more MF protection now (post-Phil) and playing next to Virgil will be massive for his development and confidence. Up the surprisingly excellent left footed Reds!
He is 10 times better than Moreno he should be the first choice
I think he has been exceptional. I have been saying that ever since the 1-1 v the Ev in the league when I felt he got harsh and unfair criticism on the pink and other shows. The lad is quality and if he wasn’t Scottish and signed from Hull I reckon the “narrative” would be completely different. The 89% passing completion is great but importantly it’s matched by the visual evidence of watching him on the ball – he never gives it away. His covering tackling is superb. He has a magical left foot and has been so close to finding his range from crosses, and I have no doubt that will come. He also had the desire and needle as evidenced in the recent derby, and he can clearly tackle. Most of all he seems to be a great reader of the game. He seems to have game intelligence and it is this, alongside everything else, that leads me to view him as a huge step up on Albie. Yes it’s only 10 games, but I’d be hugely disappointed if he doesn’t kick in and become a mainstay at left back for years to come.
Ps. And the piece de resistance? He’s Scottish. He has Kenny as a mentor. I am convinced that link can once again turn to gold for us!
“The lad is quality and if he wasn’t Scottish and signed from Hull I reckon the “narrative” would be completely different”
Couldnt agree more.
It remains to be seen if he also loses his head everytime we play Seville.
Albie, despite playing well, still has those games in him.
Robertson all the way for me. Further up the pitch you can be 4/10 one week and 9/10 the next but not in defence.
Robertson has really surprised me never thought he had it in him that derby performance he was actually targeted as the weak link in our defence and boy did he give them the 2 fingers the biggest thing for me was his aggression he turned it on big time against for where he has come from and how much he cost it’s been a good investment if he keeps it tight and is consistent then he will do for me any forward play which he is also good at is a bonus if we had him at Basel we could be sitting here with a trophy an early champs lge inclusion and further progress in the Klopp revolution or is it Klopplution