Support our independent LFC content & go advert-free.
Support our independent Liverpool FC content and go advert-free with This Is Anfield Premium.

Alisson’s best season yet as colossus excels as Liverpool’s last line of defence

Alisson‘s 2021/22 season was his best yet in a Liverpool shirt, as his unrivalled one-on-one brilliance came to the fore.

The Brazilian had one of the most memorable ends to a season in recent memory last time around, as he became an unlikely goalscoring hero for the Reds.

Alisson‘s last-gasp header at West Brom essentially saved Liverpool’s 2020/21 campaign, allowing them to qualify for the Champions League the following weekend.

It was a tumultuous period for him as he dealt with the tragic loss of his father and an understandable dropoff in form.

As a new season beckoned last August, Alisson looked primed to return to his best and he did so emphatically.

Alisson, 2021/22

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - Tuesday, May 10, 2022: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Aston Villa FC and Liverpool FC at Villa Park. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)v

Started: 54 (All competitions)
On as a substitute: 0
Unused sub: 2
Goals: 0
Assists: 1
Clean sheets: 27

Overall Season Rating: 9.5 (=2nd)

 

Wembley heroics top wonderful season

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 14, 2022: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker celebrates with the trophy after the FA Cup Final between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. The game ended in a goal-less draw, Liverpool won 6-5 on penalties. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With fans back in stadiums and real football returning, Liverpool were ready for an assault across four competitions.

For Jurgen Klopp‘s men to enjoy success, however, they needed Alisson to be at his best between the sticks.

What occurred in the nine months that followed was a level of consistency and influence that few ‘keepers in Liverpool’s history have found.

A couple of clean sheets to open his Premier League account represented a perfect start for Alisson, with a remarkable double save at Norwich helping him secure back-to-back shutouts.

The 29-year-old’s ability to bail out his teammates was something that would become common during the campaign – more on that later!

No ‘keepers are completely immortal, though, and there was the odd blip, not least a bad day at the office away to West Ham and a sloppy error that allowed Tottenham to earn a draw in north London.

Dissect any goalkeeper in history and such mistakes are par for the course, though, and when it came to Alisson, they were the most minor speedbumps in an otherwise pristine tarmacked road.

Having watched Caoimhin Kelleher make himself a penalty hero in the League Cup win over Chelsea, the Brazil superstar replicated that feat in the FA Cup final against the same opponents.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 14, 2022: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker celebrates by biting his winners' medal after the FA Cup Final between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. The game ended in a goal-less draw, Liverpool won 6-5 on penalties. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Not only did Alisson make key saves in the game itself, he then kept out Mason Mount’s spot-kick in the shootout, allowing Kostas Tsimikas to seal glory.

Alisson is rarely one to make the headlines, such is his ability to make everything look easy, rather than dive for the cameras and scream for the fans, such as Jordan Pickford and Aaron Ramsdale.

To be one of the heroes at Wembley was, therefore, heartwarming, allowing him his moment in the sun before knuckling down again.

Because this is what makes Alisson so special. Everything is so low-key.

You rarely see him at full stretch, due to his positional sense being so immaculate, and much like an unsung supporting actor who holds a film together, much of his work is done in a serene, immaculate fashion.

There was one aspect of Alisson‘s game that it was impossible not to notice, however – one that proved vital to Liverpool’s approach and their quadruple aspirations.

 

One-on-one brilliance

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 14, 2022: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker makes a save from Chelsea's Marcos Alonso during the FA Cup Final between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s high line is the ultimate footballing game of risk – if done correctly, it can be inspired, if not, an area to exploit!

This bold approach in 2021/22 saw the Reds leave acres of space behind their defence, but allowed them to press high and suffocate their opponents in dangerous areas.

In order for the system to be used well, you need an elite goalkeeper who is not only an expert at racing out and reading danger, but also a one-on-one colossus.

In Alisson, Liverpool arguably have one of the best in history at both of those things.

Even forgetting the long list of saves that were made before the offside flag eventually went up, Alisson was monumental when it came down to thwarting opponents when clean-through on goal.

Remarkably, goalkeeping analyst John Harrison pointed out that he saved Liverpool more than eight goals in one-on-ones – +8.46 expected saves – which is almost double the tally of Brighton‘s Robert Sanchez (+4.76) in second place.

When that high line was breached and it looked as though Klopp’s side would concede, Alisson was there to make himself big and psyche out the opposition.

Antoine Griezmann in the Champions League; Gabriel Jesus in the FA Cup semi-final; Martin Odegaard at the Emirates; Dele Alli at Spurs – the list goes on and on.

Would Klopp even contemplate the high line with an inferior player in goal? Surely not.

But he is afforded the luxury of having the absolute best in the business in his ranks.

Alisson has never been better.

 

What next?

NORWICH, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 14, 2021: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker makes a save during the FA Premier League match between Norwich City FC and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While there is a danger that Liverpool’s squad is beginning to age gracefully together, there is no issue where Alisson is concerned.

Granted, he turns the ripe ‘old’ age of 30 in October, following Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in celebrating that milestone in the same year, but he is in his prime.

Alisson should remain in this part of his career for many years to come, so the hope is that he still has hundreds of appearances left in him.

If Liverpool are to pip Man City to Premier League glory next season, and again look to compete for four trophies, their magnificent and enviably-handsome stopper will need to be at his best once again.

There is also the small matter of this being a World Cup year, with Alisson battling Ederson to start for favourites Brazil in Qatar this winter.

In an ideal world, he will be crowned a World Cup winner and inspire Liverpool to more trophy success in the same campaign, further enhancing his ever-growing legend.


Best moment: Penalty heroics in the FA Cup final.

Worst moment: The costly error away to Spurs. He had been superb up until that point.

Role next season: Key player and one of the first names on the team sheet.

Fan Comments