The news that their goalkeeper Alisson Becker will be sidelined for ‘a few weeks’ with a calf injury will be met with a quiet consternation at Anfield.
Liverpool have been dealt a blow with goalkeeper Alisson sidelined for a number of weeks
The Brazilian keeper suffered a calf problem during Friday’s season opener against Norwich
It falls to Adrian, recently signed from West Ham, to cover for Alisson in the weeks to come
Games he could miss
Premier League unless stated
Wednesday Chelsea (Istanbul)
UEFA Super Cup
Saturday Southampton (A)
August 24 Arsenal (H)
August 31 Burnley (A)
September 14 Newcastle United (H)
September 17-18 Champions League matchday one
September 22 Chelsea (A)
While Adrian, signed on a free from West Ham earlier this month, will provide decent cover, a delve into Alisson’s stats from last season reveals just how much they could miss him.
Though Liverpool had to stump up £65million, a world record for a goalkeeper, to sign Alisson from Roma in the summer of 2018, Jurgen Klopp knew it was a necessary outlay.
The club had often been let down by a string of unreliable keepers, latterly Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet, and it needed addressing if they wanted to properly challenge for major honours.
The arrival of Alisson cured these ills in a stroke, his debut season at Anfield a masterclass in consistency between the posts.
An ever-present in Liverpool’s Premier League and Champions League games during 2018-19, Alisson kept 21 clean sheets in 38 league matches, topping the list just ahead of City’s Ederson.
Alisson made a series of crucial saves in the Champions League final win over Tottenham
His performance allowed Liverpool to weather a spell of intense second-half pressure
The keeper hugs the European Cup following Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Spurs in Madrid
Alisson, with winners medal in mouth, calls his family during the post-match celebrations
His concession of 22 league goals was the lowest of any keeper in the English top-flight, though a certain Dutch defender called Virgil van Dijk, also a necessary expense, might argue he played a part.
In those 38 matches, Alisson faced 96 shots on target and saved 77.1 per cent of them – again the highest return of any Premier League keeper.
But it wasn’t just his shot-stopping that impressed. Alisson’s distribution was often vital in setting Liverpool flying forward on the attack.
He played a total of 1,076 passes, of which 864 reached their intended destination for a return of 80.3 per cent. Only Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga and Ederson had a superior accuracy when it came to playing the ball out.
Little wonder Van Dijk described Alisson as ‘maybe the best goalkeeper in the world right now’ and questioned why he hadn’t been included in FIFA’s 10-man shortlist for The Best award.
Alisson and Virgil van Dijk formed a formidable defensive partnership last season
The pair celebrate Liverpool’s thrilling comeback victory over Barcelona in the semi-finals
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Alisson was precisely the kind of goalkeeper Van Dijk wanted positioned behind him and vice versa and the pair worked brilliantly in tandem in what proved a memorable season for Liverpool.
The Brazilian made a number of crucial saves as Tottenham pressed for an equaliser in the second-half of the Champions League final.
Certain xG measures also say that Alisson’s efforts gained Liverpool 13.5 additional points last season, helping take their title tussle with City to the final afternoon.
While Klopp was keen to extol the virtues of Adrian ahead of Liverpool’s Super Cup meeting with Chelsea in Istanbul on Wednesday night, there will be understandable worries.
For one thing, he didn’t play in the Premier League at all last season, with West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini favouring Lukasz Fabianski.
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Adrian was signed on a free transfer from West Ham earlier this month to provide keeper cover
But he didn’t play regularly for West Ham last season, appearing only in their cup matches
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His only appearances came in the FA Cup and the EFL Cup – two of these games were against AFC Wimbledon (he shipped four in the FA Cup tie) and another came against Macclesfield Town.
The Spaniard’s shot-stopping ability is sound – in his 125 Premier League outings for West Ham, his save percentage was 72 per cent.
But his accuracy of distribution was under 50 per cent, quite the drop from Alisson’s 80.3 and it may take him a little time to get accustomed to playing it out sharply and short.
With City scorching out of the blocks, Liverpool cannot afford to miss a beat in these opening weeks of the season. It will fall to Adrian to ensure Alisson’s injury absence isn’t keenly felt.