Trent Alexander-Arnold's delivery is key and Liverpool have also benefited from thinking outside the box
Thursday 30 January 2020 23:05, UK
Liverpool's set-piece potency comes down to Trent Alexander-Arnold's "sensational" delivery, according to tactics expert Danny Higginbotham.
Jurgen Klopp's side have scored more goals from set pieces than any other Premier League side since the start of last season, their total of 31 including 11 in the current campaign.
Liverpool's set-piece strength has helped them move 19 points clear of second-placed Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table.
And Higginbotham says the credit should go to right-back Alexander-Arnold, who has registered 10 assists this season on top of the 12 he contributed in 2018/19.
"We can analyse the movements, we can look at Virgil van Dijk being very good in the air," Higginbotham said on Sky Sports News. "Just narrow it down: It's the person taking the set pieces.
"He has got one of the best deliveries in world football at the moment. It's absolutely incredible. It's not a case of saying, 'Does a player run around the back? Does a player come around the front?' It's just the delivery.
"What you've got is a group of players that know the delivery is going to be absolutely spot-on, so therefore they make the runs and they are confident."
Higginbotham sees parallels with the Stoke side he played in, in which Rory Delap's long throw caused havoc among Premier League defences.
"When I was at Stoke - and this isn't comparing the two teams at all - our set pieces were one of the biggest things for us," he says. "We believed we were going to score because our delivery and throw-ins were so good.
"I can tell you now that when Liverpool have a set piece and that ball is coming into the box, there are four or five players who believe they are going to score. Firstly, because they have done it before. Secondly, because of the delivery of Alexander-Arnold.
"His set-piece delivery is absolutely sensational. It's up there with the best I have ever seen - it's that good."
Higginbotham also believes Liverpool are reaping the rewards of their decision to appoint specialist throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark, who estimated that 12 of Liverpool's goals this season have resulted from throw-ins in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports this week.
"The art of the throw-in is massively underrated," Higginbotham said.
"When you are playing against Liverpool, it's difficult enough to clear your lines because they are pressing you so high, now all of a sudden we are seeing them being inventive with throw-ins too.
"You're a defender, you pick the ball up and all the Liverpool players are coming at you and, in the back of the mind, you're thinking, 'I don't want to give away a throw in'. You might therefore make a split-second decision which is not the correct one.
"Also, the more you dominate a game, the more throw-ins and set pieces you're going to have in the final third.
"I'm not saying Liverpool are scoring directly from throws, but a throw-in may lead to a corner or a set piece and we know how good they are from those situations."
Liverpool's use of a throw-in specialist has nevertheless been greeted with scepticism in some quarters.
"Anybody who says a throw-in coach is a waste of time, then tell me why," said Higginbotham.
"If you can use everything to make you stronger, to give you those extra few per cent to go on and win, then you're going to do that.
"I give full credit to Liverpool and any team that wants to do that because they are thinking outside the box and that's the way it should be.
"I think it's a wonderful idea. Jurgen Klopp is looking at every avenue to find what can make them even better. They fully deserve the fact that they are getting goals from set pieces."