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Talking Tactics

Henderson and Alexander-Arnold balance out Liverpool

Adrian Clarke 22 May 2020
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool

Adrian Clarke explains how the right-sided team-mates have become one of the Reds' most dynamic duos

Adrian Clarke looks at some of the standout partnerships of the 2019/20 season so far.

Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold

Liverpool have become an exceptionally hard team to play against and one of the most important elements of their tactical set-up is the ability to play early passes out to their full-backs.

This ploy allows the Reds to stretch their opponents and such is their quality, the wide defenders will more often than not create or convert a chance.

An excellent supply line from out wide allows wingers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to take up central positions where they are most effective.

Top Liverpool pass combinations
Player 1 Player 2 Combined passes
Van Dijk Robertson 717
Van Dijk Gomez 706
Henderson Alexander-Arnold 593

When playing on the right of a three-man midfield, Jordan Henderson has forged a terrific understanding with Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The Liverpool captain has helped drive his team to the top of the table this season and his partnership with the 21-year-old defender has been key to that.

They have shared 593 passes in 25 appearances together, an average of 23.72 per match, and they do so in a relentless and clever manner.

Providing cover

One of the main reasons these two England team-mates click so well is their ability to rotate positions.

When Alexander-Arnold is busy displaying his attacking prowess, Henderson is quietly filling in to help shield the defence.

That safety net gives Jurgen Klopp confidence his team will not be exposed on the break.

The last time Henderson started a Premier League match on the right of a midfield three was in a 4-0 win at home to Southampton in February.

Henderson's performance v Southampton

Their relationship is not just built around supporting Alexander-Arnold, who himself will help Henderson whenever he decides to contribute in attack.

Together the pair are a formidable right-sided double act, and are often in close proximity when Liverpool have possession.

When it comes to passing from central midfield to the full-backs, Liverpool are way ahead of any other side.

On the left, Georginio Wijnaldum and Andrew Robertson mirror the combination shared by Henderson and Alexander-Arnold.

Most passes central midfield to full-back
Club Player 1 Player 2 Passes
LIV Henderson Alexander-Arnold 315
LIV Wijnaldum Robertson 301
LEI Tielemans Pereira 242
SHU Lundstram Baldock 212
SHU Fleck Stevens 205
LEI Maddison Chilwell 194

Apart from Liverpool, Leicester City and Sheffield United are the most similar in this aspect of their distribution.

Foxes defenders Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell share excellent chemistry with their midfielders, as do Blades duo George Baldock and Enda Stevens.

But the leaders are in a league of their own in this department and it is one of the many reasons behind their dominance in 2019/10.

See: Adrian Clarke's dynamic duos

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