Where would Liverpool be without their goalkeeper? Possibly eighth.
The 2-0 win over Southampton on Saturday evening had Jurgen Klopp grinning from ear to ear. The gleaming teeth said it all. Key boxes were ticked. Fourth now looks more possible after other results; Thiago scored his first goal, and the Reds managed to score late rather than concede. Best of all, Alisson looked unbeatable again.
Goalkeeper regains top form
Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams are not the paciest at the heart of the defence. The Reds have had more centre-back partnerships than hot dinners at Kirkby this season, and the loss of Ozan Kabak could have been fatal. The latest change meant even more work for the man between the sticks.
Alisson rose to the challenge.
The Brazilian made six saves against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side, the most in his Premier League career since joining the club. Crucially, there were just 46 seconds between his exceptional block from Che Adams to Sadio Mane’s opener. If the Reds had fallen behind, Southampton would have dug in. Liverpool still struggle to score at Anfield, which piles even more pressure on Alisson.
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Alisson has saved Liverpool in last three league games
Reds fans were fuming at Liverpools’ wastefulness in front of goal during the two recent 1-1 draws. However, it could have been worse at the other end. Against Leeds, Alisson made a fantastic save from Jack Harrison with his leg and then stopped Tyler Roberts from point-blank range. Newcastle also burst through the porous defence, but the Brazilian twice saved brilliantly from Joelinton. Five points from nine is frustrating when it could and should have been nine. Without their custodian’s huge presence, it might have been two.
Liverpool man anticipates and closes down strikers
Now comes the crunch for Liverpool. The Old Trafford visit on Thursday has been rearranged after the unfortunate events last Sunday week. Manchester United’s selection may be influenced by their busy schedule, but Liverpool’s keeper will have to be alert to the pace in behind, something that Kasper Schmeichel didn’t quite master against Newcastle’s quick trio on Friday. In football, timing is everything. Very rarely does the Brazilian get his calculations wrong when faced with speedy forwards. Think back to that timely paw to take the ball away from Jesse Lingard at Old Trafford in February 2019.
With Leicester still to play Manchester United and a flying Chelsea, the hope remains the Reds can nudge past Brendan Rodger’s side in the standings. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer once said: “You are allowed to have a good goalkeeper”. Alisson is better than good.