LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, March 4, 2022: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (R) and goalkeeper Alisson Becker after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s high line criticism brilliantly exposed as impressive Alisson stat emerges

Liverpool’s high line is readily used as the beating stick for Jurgen Klopp‘s side, but critics often fail to recognise the plethora of advantages it hands to the Reds.

It’s rare you will watch a Liverpool game on television these days without at least one mention of the high line, whether as a point of contention or for praise.

For the Reds, it’s a tactic that has served them well and their elite defensive line and goalkeeper ensure anyone that does get through the net can still be thwarted.

The statistics don’t lie, and according to FBref, Liverpool has seen the offside flag waved in their favour a total of 131 times in the Premier League this season – 49 more than next-best Man City.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 27, 2022: Liverpool's Joel Matip (R) and Virgil van Dijk during the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 11-10 on penalties after a goal-less draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The elite organisation and recovery speed of the defence then allows for a high press and more lethal attacks to be conjured up, making it one of their greatest strengths.

On Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, Jamie Carragher analysed the high line as he assessed Liverpool and Man City‘s title hopes, presenting a sound argument to those who question Klopp’s tactics.

“I’ve just mentioned how Man City without a striker is in some ways a strength, and it’s the same with Liverpool [and the high line],” Carragher said.

“The first reason [why they play a high line] is that they want to press high to keep their team compact.

“This high line in terms of high turnovers ending in shots on goal, Liverpool have more shots than anyone in the Premier League and have double the amount of goals. That’s what they gain there.

“The other one is the actual times they catch the opposition offside, an unbelievable number (131).

“Let’s say Liverpool were at Man City‘s level (82), that’s another 50 attacks you have to defend, how many goals would they concede in that situation, concede a throw-in or a corner in a dangerous position that would lead to that goal?

“At times I do question it,” Carragher added. “A lot of it comes from body positions.

“When you play this type of style, you need top players to do it and Liverpool have the best defender in the world and, for me, the best goalkeeper in the world in Alisson.

“When they have problems, it’s not about how high they are up the pitch, it’s because body positions aren’t right. Body positions are everything when you’re playing a high line.”

Alisson, in particular, was singled out using brilliant analysis from John Harrison, astronomy PhD, to highlight the Brazilian’s elite performances in one v one situations.

“The third reason why they play a high line is that Liverpool have the best goalkeeper in the world in dealing with these situations,” Carragher said. “You know he’s great in those positions.

“For me, the best goalkeeper in the world at one on ones. The stats show Liverpool should have conceded eight more goals than they have through one v one situations [this season].

“They back their goalkeeper to deal with one of these every single game, but they have the best to deal with it.

“On top of that, the high line has helped them in terms of going forward, and actually scoring goals themselves and the offsides as well.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 16, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates with the supporters after the FA Cup Semi-Final game between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 3-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“So, when people say this high line is a problem, I go back to what I said about Manchester City‘s false nine.

“They are perceived weakness – and it only needs to go wrong once between now and the end of the season, that could cost either team the title.

“But they are not massive problems for either team, they are actually strengths.”