Fantasy Premier League

Why Slot can revive interest in Liverpool full-backs in FPL

By The Scout 25 May 2024

The Scout on why Dutchman's 4-2-3-1 formation will force a reassessment of Reds assets

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The appointment of Arne Slot as head coach of Liverpool can revive interest in their full-backs in 2024/25 Fantasy Premier League.

The Reds’ rearguard disappointed in their final campaign under Jurgen Klopp, with Trent Alexander-Arnold their top-scoring pick at the back on 122 points, some 60 points behind Arsenal’s Ben White at the summit for defenders. 

Slot has favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation during his stints in charge of AZ Alkmaar and Feyenoord, which differs from the 4-3-3 that Fantasy managers were accustomed to under Klopp. 

The Dutchman’s tactics ensured both his full-backs were a big success in 2023/24 Eredevisie.

Lutsharel Geertruida and Quilindschy Hartman each supplied five assists, while the former’s inverted role on the right also helped him to score eight goals – a total bettered only by three of Feyenoord’s front four.

Will Slot stop Trent's long passes?

Although that raises the prospects of Alexander-Arnold getting back to his best, it remains to be seen whether Slot will use the England star in his back four or move him into central midfield.

The passing statistics from 2023/24 show that Slot prefers his full-backs to take few risks, instead helping their side build possession effectively.

A mere 5.6 per cent of Hartman’s passes were long passes, with Geertruida just behind on 7.6 per cent.

See: Why Slot's tactics and personality are perfect for Liverpool

Andrew Robertson’s long-pass percentage numbers are identical to those of Hartman, who played as an overlapping left-back under Slot. 

That's in sharp contrast to Alexander-Arnold, with long passes accounting for over 15 per cent of the 1,685 passes he made. Notably, the 25-year-old made 184 inaccurate long passes in 2023/24, the fifth-worst record in the league. 

A look at Conor Bradley’s numbers suggest he could be better-suited to the right-back berth, potentially allowing Alexander-Arnold a move into the double-pivot in midfield. Only 6.9 per cent of Bradley's passes were long passes last season.

Liverpool and Feyenoord full-backs' passing, 23/24
Player Accurate long passes Inaccurate long passes % passes as long passes
Hartman 53 62 5.6%
Geertruida 67 53 7.6%
Robertson 47 49 5.6%
Bradley 15 15 6.9%
Alexander-Arnold 147 184 15.3%
Change of role for Salah?

In attack, Mohamed Salah has now delivered 200+ points in seven successive campaigns with Liverpool and remains their go-to asset.

Again, though, Slot's tactics have to be considered here. His penchant for pacy, ball-carrying wingers means there is a chance that Salah is moved centrally should the Dutchman decide he needs more dynamism out wide, with Luiz Diaz perhaps occupying the role on the right.

See: Insight from one of Slot's former players

The underlying numbers certainly highlight a big downturn in Salah's dribbling last season.

His 86 dribbles, 27 successful dribbles and 31.4 per cent dribble success are his lowest totals for each statistic since he made his Liverpool debut in 2017/18.

The Egyptian, who turns 32 this summer, enjoyed an average dribble success rate of over 52 per cent across his first three seasons at Anfield, but that number has now dropped by over 20 per cent.

Salah's dribbling stats per season
Season Dribbles Successful dribbles % successful dribbles
2017/18 141 79 56.0%
2018/19 168 80 47.6%
2019/20 94 50 53.2%
2020/21 100 36 36.0%
2021/22 136 53 39.0%
2022/23 144 51 35.4%
2023/24 86 27 31.4%
Attacking returns for more players?

Alexis Mac Allister and Cody Gakpo have hinted at improving form in the second half of the season and both have the skillsets to thrive under the new head coach. 

A look at the goal distribution per position at Feyenoord in 2023/24 shows why Slot’s tactics may promote more options among the Reds’ contingent in 2024/25.

Six of Feyenoord’s 10 regular outfield players had at least 12 goal involvements last season - their total for combined goals and assists.

Indeed, their intense pressing style of play helped Quinten Timber to 16 goal involvements from central midfield, more than wingers Yankuba Minteh or Igor Paixao, who had 15 and 12 respectively.

Goals and assists at Feyenoord 23/24
Slot's Feyenoord team

The arrival of Slot offers plenty of encouragement at both ends of the pitch, then, and Liverpool’s summer friendlies are bound to be of major interest to managers in Fantasy.

Alexander-Arnold and Salah's positions in the Dutchman's new-look team will be keenly anticipated, and if Alexander-Arnold moves into central midfield it would likely make Bradley, at a far cheaper price, a top pick at the back.  

Diaz, Mac Allister and Gakpo could also establish themselves as key figures in the post-Klopp era, with Mac Allister a particularly intriguing option if he is handed the No 10 role next season. 

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