Previous Posts: Formation | Keeper
Only four candidates for this position, which will be the lowest number. Should be one of the closest votes too; I went back and forth over who to vote for incessantly while writing this. I can make real arguments for picking any of these four. Remember, this is a 4-2-3-1 formation, so we might want to include attacking impetus in picking the fullbacks.
Alvaro Arbeloa (2007-2009)
Somehow, Benitez turned Josemi into Kromkamp into Arbeloa for no additional money. Arbeloa made his mark early on, impressing against Barca in one of his first games, shutting down Messi from left back. It didn’t take long to establish himself ahead of Finnan. Like the Irishman, Arbeloa was arguably too defensive for a title-challenging club, especially with the way Benitez’s tactics have evolved. I still miss his goal celebrations, though.
Markus Babbel (2000-2002)
Arriving on a free transfer in 2000, Babbel was crucial in the 2001 treble success, and would have been a brilliant right back for years had he not contracted Guillain-Barre syndrome. Just the right mix of attacking and defense, Babbel scored some crucial goals, including one in the UEFA Cup final against Alaves. After missing nearly all of 01/02 to the disease, he struggled in 02/03, playing mainly with the reserves, and was loaned to Blackburn the following season. If only.
Steve Finnan (2003-2008)
It took Finnan a season to make the right back position his own, with Carragher still vying for time as a fullback under Houllier, but when Finnan claimed the spot, he kept it for the next three seasons. The Finnan-Carragher-Hyypia-Riise backline was the rock Benitez built upon, and Finnan was a huge part of it. He was my player of the season in 2006-07. Always described with terms like “reliable” and “consistent,” Finnan rarely offered enough going forward, which is why Benitez looked to replace him with the likes of Josemi and Kromkamp before an Arbeloa-sized crowbar finally pried him out, but it’s hard to find a more consistent defending fullback over that time period.
Glen Johnson (2009-present)
It’s probably too soon into his Liverpool career to anoint Glen Johnson the right back of the decade, what with only 15 games, and not the best results from those 15. But he’s the type of player who changes games, and Liverpool certainly needs more of those. Two goals and three assists in his first five games demonstrate why Benitez was willing to pay £17m for a fullback. I truly expect great things from him, but he's been a starter for less than half a season, and it's been an ignominious half-season at that.