Having missed out on the first team last season, 19 year old Ben Woodburn was given a chance to shine this year, as he finally hit the first team. Usually a left-winger, I’ve made the decision to develop his game playing through the middle and as a striker, depending on the opposition and the rest of the squad for that particular game. Woodburn has proven himself to be incredibly versatile, and as we approach the halfway point in the season, he is developing at an astonishing rate.
Having recently signed a new four-year deal with the club, Ben has gone from strength to strength, and with injuries to Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah depleting my front-line, he has found himself handed more and more opportunities to shine, starting 8 games in all competitions, scoring 7 times. His movement and awareness have grown massively, and he shows a continual willingness to work for the shirt.
Able to play both Attacking Midfield and as a Striker, Ben often poses quite a unique threat to opposition defences, particularly through his movement. Against Brighton in the league, Ben featured in our attacking midfield role, and his heat-map shows his willingness to drop into space around the box, and move defenders out of position by doing so:
As you can see, Ben drops into the space on the edge of the box regularly, and in doing so he often pulls defenders with him, creating space for the front two. He is also willing to drop deeper into midfield, winning back possession and carrying the ball forward – seen in the two curved areas in the middle of the pitch. The Brighton game is also an example of how Ben links attack and defence, with much of his passing pushing the team through transition phases, and kick-starting attacks:
What I like most about Ben’s play is that the ball, as we can see above, very rarely goes backwards: he’s proactive and accurate with his passing – 80% of his passes this season have found a Liverpool player – and is often Key to our attacking play from deep. It is just an added bonus that he is also comfortable playing as a striker, because it brings added depth for us.
What I love most of all about Ben, though, is that he embodies exactly what I want to achieve with Liverpool: A homegrown, one-of-our-own, star in the making, living his dream on the Anfield Turf.