Liverpool vs Everton : Liverpool’s 5-0 win against Watford on Wednesday was notable not only for keeping the Reds on top of the table, but also because it marked the first time in Premier League history that defenders had contributed five assists in a single match.
Liverpool vs Everton
English Premier League – Regular Season
Place: Goodison Park – Liverpool, ENG
Time: 11:15 AM ET
Liverpool vs Everton Live Stream
The source was the two full-backs; Trent Alexander-Arnold, with three, and Andy Robertson with the other two. If last season belonged to the front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool’s ambitions in 2018-19 may well rely on the health and form of their left and right-backs.
It’s always been a legitimate source of success when placed in the right hands – from marauders like Ashley Cole through to the precision delivery of someone like Leighton Baines – but a duo like Alexander-Arnold and Robertson are a rare beast.
Think of Liverpool’s goal away at Manchester City this season. A raking pass from the England international with his weaker left-foot to the Scotland captain inside City’s box, who knocks it across first time for Firmino to score. As full-back contribution goes, it was close to perfection.
Before this season no defender had ever assisted three times in a Premier League game; now it’s happened twice in less than 70 days (the other occasion being Kyle Walker-Peters for Tottenham against Bournemouth on Boxing Day).
Liverpool vs Everton : EPL
Robertson’s total of eight assists this season equals his club’s Premier League record by a defender – set by Stig Inge Bjornebye in 1996-97 – and the combined total of 17 this season is already more than in any previous Liverpool season in the Premier League era.
More significantly, each of Jurgen Klopp’s seasons at Anfield has seen an increase from the previous campaign. This isn’t random, it’s the steady progress of a distinct approach.
“It’s important,” said Klopp ahead of the Merseyside derby when asked about the assists of his full-backs. “That’s modern football. If you ask a young boy ‘what’s your favourite position?’ I don’t think a lot of boys will say ‘I want to be a full-back!’
“But football changed. They became much more important. I was a full-back myself for a decent part of my career, it looked completely different to what the boys are doing but at least I know the things to do; you have to be really strong defensively, but on the other side a lot of teams clear the wings for the full-backs offensively.