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Alisson Becker, Mr Consistent of Liverpool in search of quadruple | liverpool

Alisson Becker, Mr Consistent of Liverpool in search of quadruple | liverpool

VSHelsea won’t need to be reminded of the role Liverpool’s second-choice goalkeeper played in their downfall in the teams’ last meeting at Wembley. The form of Liverpool’s first-choice – or ‘the best goalkeeper in the world’, to use Jürgen Klopp’s description – puts a bigger hurdle between Thomas Tuchel’s side and revenge in Saturday’s FA Cup final.

In a four-time hunting season with a club-record 142 goals and counting, the dazzling impact of Luis Díaz, the world-class consistency of Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah, and the contract doubts surrounding them both, it is understandable that the spotlights have settled. only fleetingly on Alisson Becker. Yet, as Villa Park’s away section recognized after Tuesday’s vital win over Aston Villa by chanting the Brazilian’s name long after the final whistle, his contribution to Liverpool’s remarkable campaign cannot be overstated.

In many ways, the 29-year-old has shaped this campaign since his 95th-minute winner at West Bromwich Albion last season saw Klopp’s injured side qualify for the Champions League. “Now let’s try to win this season and it will be even more special,” Alisson said as he reflected on his centre-forward’s header. Liverpool are one step away from making that particular wish come true.

Alisson’s perfectionist will have been annoyed by his role in Douglas Luiz’s opener for Villa and the error that handed possession to Ollie Watkins just outside the Liverpool penalty area. Alisson’s unflappable professional made sure it wouldn’t affect his game, however, and two fine saves from Danny Ings helped secure the 2-1 victory that kept Liverpool on the heels of Manchester City with two games left remaining in the title race.

Douglas Luiz’s and Son Heung-min’s goal for Tottenham on Saturday kept Alisson waiting for a 21st clean sheet of the Premier League season. He has the chance to equal or surpass the Liverpool Premier League record of 21 – set by Alisson in his first season at the club in 2018-19 – against Southampton and Wolves next week.

Only Ederson has kept as many clean sheets this season, although Alisson has faced more shots and made more saves than his international team-mate and Premier League rival. The thin margins between Liverpool and City even extend to the battle for the Golden Gloves prize. Edouard Mendy, whom Liverpool will face in the Cup final, trails the two Brazilians in third place with 14 clean sheets.

Alisson’s save percentage of 73.7 is the second highest in the Premier League this season behind José Sá, whose figure fell to 74.5% after Wolves were mauled by City on Wednesday. Liverpool’s keeper save ratio inside the box has fallen from 58.2 per cent in 2019-20 to around 75 per cent this season. His passing success rate is also up slightly, from 85.5% last season to 86.2%. The stats reflect a fully fit goalkeeper but don’t sum up Alisson’s importance to Liverpool.

Newcastle United's Joelinton attempts to drive the ball past Liverpool's Alisson Becker during the Premier League match at St James' Park on April 30, 2022.
Alisson Becker, Mr Consistent of Liverpool in search of quadruple | liverpool
Only Manchester City goalkeeper Edersen has kept more clean sheets than Alisson this season. Photography: Richard Lee/Shutterstock

Ings is the latest opposition striker who can vouch for the former Roma player’s formidable reputation in one-on-ones. This ability, bolstered by speed and awareness, gives Liverpool manager and defenders the confidence to play the high line so fundamental when approaching Klopp, and to accept the risks that come with it.

Liverpool’s confidence in Alisson was also evident when he was consulted on the appointment of Brazil’s World Cup winner Cláudio Taffarel to their goalkeeping coaching staff in November. The position is constantly evolving, Klopp explained, and Alisson’s responsibility is growing.

“When I was a player, the most important skill [for a goalkeeper] was to save the ball but then it developed,” the Liverpool manager said. “You could return the ball, but that meant the keeper had to use his feet and that was really tricky.

This is obviously a position that is becoming more and more influential and not only in defensive moments but also in attacking moments.

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“You see now a lot of goalkeepers are quite long when they shoot the balls which is good for some teams and we also use that tactic from time to time. But it’s more about being involved in the construction situations; you can give the ball to the centre-halves without thinking, “Oh my God, what is he doing?” You have to shoot [go long] with funneled bullets, change bullets to one side, make the game big – all that stuff.

Chelsea failed to get past Caoimhín Kelleher for the thrilling 120 minutes of the Carabao Cup final in February. It was the third draw in three meetings between the clubs this season before Kelleher netted Liverpool’s final penalty – and Mendy’s 119th-minute substitute Kepa Arrizabalaga missed Chelsea’s – as the side de Klopp triumphed 11-10 in the shootout. Alisson’s return will bolster Liverpool’s conviction for the second leg of their quadruple pursuit.

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