Pitchside

‘Don’t mess with the RedCafu’ – Why Flanagan’s Liverpool’s underrated gem

Pitchside

View gallery

.

Liverpool moved to the top of the Premier League with a convincing 4-0 triumph over Tottenham on Sunday, the Reds heaping further humiliation on a Spurs team which they defeated 5-0 earlier in the season. The win was Brendan Rodgers' eighth in succession as his side reaffirmed their title credentials, and there was a number of brilliant performances as Liverpool placed themselves in an extremely advantageous position ahead of the Premier League run-in.

One player who put in a high quality performance was Liverpool's left-back, Jon Flanagan. The 21-year-old has excelled and grown in stature this season and Sunday's clash with Spurs was another example of the Liverpool man's fledgling ability. Though the Reds' attacking players are likely to receive the majority of the praise, Flanagan's showing was a strong one which was important in ensuring the three points for his side.

In defence, the Englishman was steady. He won 50 per cent of his tackles, an improvement upon his season average of 47 per cent, and made three clearances against what was, in truth, a largely limp Tottenham attack. Flanagan, while not remarkably strong in defence, is a stable presence and performed well in front of a boisterous Anfield crowd; indeed, there was one very strong tackle on Roberto Soldado which went down a treat with the Anfield faithful.

View gallery

.

This screenshot was taken from the Squawka Football App - Download it here

When Liverpool were in possession, Flanagan dutifully fulfilled the requirements of the modern day full-back, pushing high up the pitch to support his team's attacks. As his Heat Map indicates, the 21-year-old consistently appeared in the opposition's half; this allowed Luis Suarez to move into a narrower position by ensuring that Liverpool retained an element of width. By adopting a more advanced position, Flanagan was able to offer the Reds an additional attacking outlet.

View gallery

.

This is evident from the fact that Flanagan created two chances for his team-mates, one of which resulted in a goal. His attacking intent was laid out in the opening exchanges of the game as the full-back provided a goalscoring opportunity within five minutes, while the 55th minute saw Flanagan provide Coutinho with the ball which the Brazilian struck past a helpless Hugo Lloris.

View gallery

.

Indeed, when he had the ball Flanagan performed excellently, something which his pass completion rate of 91 per cent is testament to. The Englishman misplaced just four passes throughout the 90 minutes of Sunday's game and as such contributed well to a dominant Liverpool showing.

View gallery

.

When Flanagan made his first 2013-14 Premier League appearance against Arsenal this season, many were amused. However, the 21-year-old has since established himself in Brendan Rodgers' team and has missed just 17 minutes of football in the eight consecutive victories which Liverpool have now recorded. His performance against Tottenham only proved further that Flanagan is a reliable full-back who merits his place in this exciting Liverpool team.

Even the man he was initially ironically compared to was impressed.

View Comments (34)
Write for Yahoo Sport