Neco Williams: A clear example of Liverpool’s full-back philosophy in all parts of the club

With the title already wrapped up, Liverpool have given Neco Williams a chance to impress. Not only has he done that, but he’s proven that he’s been learning at the same footballing school as Trent Alexander-Arnold.

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Trent Alexander-Arnold has become one of the first names on the team sheet at Liverpool, alongside Andy Robertson on the opposite flank.

The two full-backs have become the unexpected creative source in what is the best Liverpool side the Premier League has ever seen, assisting a combined 44 goals since the start of last season.

Nobody can deny the fact that Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp are using the full-back position better than anyone in the world right now and, some may say, they are even revolutionising the role itself.

Before, a full-back was expected to defend first and attack second. Previously, the highest a full-back may have been seen on the pitch was the halfway line with the primary job being covering their own half.

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The likes of Gary Neville became one of the best full-backs around due to his tireless and astute defensive ability.

Nowadays, however, and especially in a Klopp team, full-backs are expected to be attacking threats and, at times, almost play the role of a winger. When it comes to positioning, we often see Alexander-Arnold in the position of which you would usually see a winger take up.

The positioning and overlapping of the full-backs is crucial for Liverpool’s attacking methods, too, with Sadio Mané and particularly Mohamed Salah was often seen playing the role of an inside forward, allowing space for the overlapping full-backs.


Defensively, too, the way Liverpool utilise the high line, allowing the team to squeeze and pressure the opposition into eventual submission, is better than most teams in the league and again allows the full-backs to play the role of a winger.

And, it’s this philosophy that has been implemented throughout not only the first team but the entire academy – something recently proven by Neco Williams.

The Welshman has come into Jurgen Klopp’s side in recent games against Brighton & Hove Albion and Burnley. In both those games, the two things that became obvious was his similarity to Alexander-Arnold and his clear understanding of the role – likely drummed into him at academy level.

Almost instantly against Burnley, we saw the switch of play that has become vintage Alexander-Arnold to Robertson on the opposite flank.

The simplest play when in the defensive third of the pitch and seemingly surrounded would have been to go backwards, but Klopp doesn’t expect simple, safe, football. So instead, Williams launched a superb switch of play to force Burnley’s shape to shift and give his side a chance to keep going forward.

The pass was both progressive and almost a replication of what Alexander-Arnold often produces.

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The young Welshman has proven his ability to assist this season, too, with three in total including one against Arsenal to set up Divock Origi’s late equaliser in a 5-5 draw which Liverpool later won on penalties.

For the first time in a long time, Liverpool’s academy is fresh with a whole line of talent who have had Jurgen Klopp’s philosophy embedded into their play. Everyone, from the academy to the first team, is on the same page and playing the same style of football.

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