Former England international Jermaine Jenas has claimed that the battle of the full backs could be key in Liverpool’s Champions League final clash with Tottenham Hotspur next Saturday.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson have both enjoyed unbelievable seasons on Merseyside, and Jenas feels they could be the most important players on the pitch for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
“There’s no doubt the battle of the full backs will be crucial,” he wrote in his Daily Mail column. “Those assist stats from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are phenomenal. And Tottenham must be ready for them.
“The last time they played in March, when Tottenham lost in the last minute to Toby Alderweireld’s own goal from Hugo Lloris’s error, is a case in point. In the first half, Spurs played a back three as Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose ended up deep in a back five. That can’t happen again. Even if it’s a back four, they need to get high up the pitch and get in the faces of Alexander-Arnold and Robertson.”
Obviously everything Jenas says about how Tottenham can deal with Alexander-Arnold and Robertson is easier said than done. However, he’s right that it would be suicidal for Spurs to sit deep in a back five and invite pressure from Liverpool. If you give these Reds stars time, particularly the two full backs, then they will carve you open. If Alexander-Arnold has space to pick out men in the box then he will find them every single time with his superb crossing ability. Robertson, too, is excellent when allowed to bomb forward and link up with the frontmen, Sadio Mane in particular on that left hand side. Having said that, if Tottenham’s full backs push up and get in the face of the Liverpool double act, as Jenas says, then they might be able to limit their offensive impact. It’s a risky strategy, because the Reds’ midfielder could then use the space in behind the Spurs full backs to release the team’s phenomenal attackers. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see what approach Mauricio Pochettino takes for the final.