In all honesty, Liverpool haven’t had a consistently performing left-back since the days of the fiery-headed John Arne Riise in his prime. It was one of the positions that the Reds were desperate to strengthen having lost Jose Enrique to a knee injury for much of last season, leaving Glen Johnson and mainly Jon Flanagan to fill the void.
It was looking like a difficult task during the early part of the window, but after pursuing Alberto Moreno for a number of months, after his excellent season with Sevilla, the Reds finally captured their man earlier this month for around £12 million. His dazzling display against Spurs only enhanced his reputation with the Liverpool faithful and we could see the Spaniard making the left-back position his own for years to come.
Tough Initiation vs. Man City
After sealing his long awaited switch from Sevilla, Moreno was thrown straight into the deep end by being named in the starting eleven to play away at Man City, not an ideal debut by any means. Liverpool did start off well and had the better of much of the first half, that was until a lapse in concentration from Moreno let in Jovetic to take advantage and fire home.
Now, when any player comes into the Premier League from another country, they will instantly feel a difference in tempo and pace in terms of how the game is played. There is little room to dilly-dally on the ball and awareness of positioning and players around you are vital. It was one of those moments where even though the young Spaniard was at fault, it was needed for him to understand that you need be alert at all times because of the ruthless nature of strikers in this country, especially against the likes of Man City.
That being said, the 22-year-old was actually one of the more impressive performers on the night. His pace and willingness to bomb forward when given the chance was evident and he seemed very comfortable with the ball at his feet. In terms of stats, Moreno recorded an excellent accuracy rate of 90% from his 42 passes, won 100% of his tackles, aerials duels and take ons, made three clearances and created one chance. If it weren’t for the one mistake, it would’ve gone down as a solid debut, but the signs were there to show that Liverpool had a promising talent on their hands.
Performance vs. Spurs
You could say that Moreno was under a bit of pressure to prove that the City mistake was just a one off and that he could be the reliable left-back that Liverpool need going forward. By the end of the match, the fans were chanting his name in what was for me, a man of the match performance, which doesn’t happen often for players in full-back positions.
Overall, his display indicated that he has the tenacity and stamina needed for the Premier League, being able to make the left side of the field his own and use his pace to bomb forward and track back at the right times.
Moreno was again impressive with his passing, with 28 out of his 32 passes on the money giving him an accuracy rate of 87%, which is hardly surprisingly considering he is Spanish. He also won four out of his five tackles and made nine, yes nine clearances during the game which helped the Reds out of a few sticky situations. It wasn’t the most intense of examinations for the former Sevilla player with Spurs lacking a cutting edge in the final third, but nevertheless Moreno was able to handle the occasion well.
Liverpool went into the game with the diamond formation in midfield which proved to be fruitful when used last season. This was perfect for Moreno who was able to drift forward knowing that there would be cover behind with Henderson and Allen providing the protection. With the Reds basing most of their attacking play on pace and fluid movement, Moreno was able to link well with his compatriots and seemed to instantly grasp the typical high pressing style which the team is built upon.
The main positive is that Liverpool now have someone who can be comfortable in their position. Jon Flanagan played in the left-back position for much of last season and did a fantastic job in the circumstances. However, Flanagan is primarily a right-back and it did show on occasions how he wasn’t comfortable against wingers with pace. Moreno will offer more natural width in this position, especially when Liverpool play the narrow diamond where it is vital for the full-backs to provide the acceleration on the wings.
The performance was capped off by an absolutely wonderful solo strike which oozed confidence, reminiscent of Riise in his hay day. Having already kept the in-form Eric Lamela quiet for much of the game, Pochettino threw on Andros Townsend to inject some pace into Spurs’ play. However, when taking his first touch, Moreno saw his opportunity to win the ball in a position which wasn’t occupied with many players. After a short tussle with Townsend, Moreno successfully won the ball and decided to run, and run, and run until he found himself on the edge of the box. Now Townsend is normally renowned for his pace, but didn’t even come near the smoke coming off Moreno’s boots let alone the ball, showing how fast the Spaniard is with the ball at his feet.
With the likes of Sturridge and Sterling powering forward in support, most players would’ve looked to cross or pull the ball back for a teammate but we could all see that there was only one thing on his mind. Reaching the box with very little pressure from Spurs’ players, Moreno unleashed a cracking shot with great accuracy which went in off the post and considering that it was against Hugo Lloris, it needed to be a stunning strike.
A superb display capped off with a superb goal which was….superb? Liverpool will be hoping that these performances will be frequent and consistent but so far Brendan Rodgers will be overjoyed by the start that his new left-back has made. The Reds were dealt a difficult start to the season in terms of fixtures and with a relatively new back four, a return of six points from three games is definitely a positive.
Stats from Squawka and FourFourTwo StatsZone