In recent seasons Liverpool have seen a breathtaking resurgence back to the top of world football. Amidst the attacking prowess often on display under the managerial genius of Jürgen Klopp, the upturn in defensive fortunes can’t be forgotten.
Many will point to the acquisition of colossus Virgil van Dijk at the back as the reason for Liverpool’s now defensive capabilities. Though there’s definite validity to this sentiment, credit must be given equally, with Brazilian Alisson Becker deserving of a sizeable share.
The Reds came desperately close to winning the Champions League in 2017/18 but for two unfortunate goalkeeping errors which proved the difference. It was clear that Klopp wanted to give his compatriot Loris Karius as much opportunity as he could to develop, but continuous errors from the former Mainz man made his position untenable.
Eventually, in order for the club to progress a decision had to be made, with rumours escalating quickly to the confirmed signing of the Brazilian No.1. It was clear that Karius had not done enough and a new era was destined to begin.
Looking back, it has to be said the decision was made with the best interests of the club and Klopp’s faith in his new ‘keeper has already been repaid. For much of the German’s tenure at the club many questioned his ability to coach a side defensively, which surely has been answered.
In Klopp’s first full Premier League season the Reds conceded 36 goals — last season his side leaked just 22 goals. This feat earned Liverpool the title of best defensive team in the Premier League and Alisson the Golden Glove award in his first season.
The Brazilian proved to be a hit during his first season at Anfield, especially after a remarkable save from point blank range against Napoli which allowed the Reds to quality from the Champions League group stages. Without that save Madrid doesn’t happen, and both Klopp and the team still await that elusive first trophy.
It hasn’t quite been as plain sailing for the 27-year-old this season, who has only appeared in 17 games this season after picking up an injury in the opening league game of the season. Needless to say, his replacement Adrián has been phenomenal on and off the pitch since joining the club for free in the summer.
The Spaniard has made a valuable contribution to the Reds’ healthy defensive record. Astonishingly, only 15 goals have been conceded and Alisson boasts the joint-most clean sheets in the division behind four others sitting on eights, having played a minimum of seven games more.
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There must be a sense of realism when assessing the possibilities of certain scenarios, but there is nothing to discount Alisson receiving the Golden Glove award once again. Liverpool went without conceding in the league from December 4, against Everton, until January 23 at Wolves.
Such a long gap without conceding only serves to make Alisson appear even more imperious, with opposition teams knowing that only a special goal will beat him. The meanness of the Liverpool defence has been firmly restored, particularly with Joe Gomez playing some of his best football in Liverpool red.
Alisson knows that his defence will, for the most part, shield him from intense pressure. In return, the Liverpool defence know that, when needed, the big Brazilian is likely to save them.