Naby Keita has an unbelievably good record at Liverpool. But what can the Reds learn from it?
Naby Keita has an amazing Premier League record. Truly as good as just about anything you could imagine.
Keita has lost just one game he’s started since joining in 2018. That’s two and a half years with one defeat.
Now, obviously, there’s a catch. Injuries and a failure to break into the best XI have limited Keita to just 31 starts in that time.
Then there’s the fact that his only defeat came this season as Liverpool lost 7-2 to Aston Villa. Not the greatest loss, then.
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Still, Liverpool have a very impressive record with Keita – and the Reds can learn from that.
Liverpool have so many midfielders that they can create an amazing number of combinations. They’d used 11 this season ahead of the Manchester City game, in fact, before making it 12.
We saw something interesting in those combinations, too. Liverpool typically play at their best in the Premier League when they have an progressive midfielder who is willing to drive with the ball.
That’s what Keita is, after all. His dribbling stats last season were truly outstanding.
Curtis Jones is another player like that and his record was also fantastic. The City game is his first defeat this season when starting in midfield.
It leaves only Jordan Henderson undefeated as a midfielder this season.
Just looking at this season, in fact, does prove this as a rule. The two most-used combinations are Wijnaldum / Henderson / Jones and Wijnaldum / Henderson / Jones.
The combined record reads eight games, six wins, two draws.
Keita and Jones have played together once, too – a 3-0 win over Leicester City.
But the fact that both Keita and Jones – neither of which would be in the first XI – boast such great records is a sign of how Liverpool should build their midfields
Liverpool expect to win all but two games in a Premier League season, both against City. They should win the rest when at their best. It means they face a packed team 36 weeks of the season who would settle for a draw.
But when there’s a true progressive midfielder in the team, Liverpool play better. It’s something to keep in mind for the rest of the season.
The Reds will expect to win every game going forward and should therefore ensure they have one midfielder like this in every team. Perhaps that simply means asking Thiago to burst forward more often.
That can work but perhaps it’s not his best role. He prefers starting moves from deep, rather than breaking through midfield and attacking the box.
But Jones and Keita have consistently shown that their involvement helps. They’re comfortable and effective at breaking forward. Hopefully, then, we see more of them.