This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Alisson Becker is expected to return to first-team action for Liverpool in the coming weeks, but how much have the Reds missed their Brazilian shot-stopper?
Former West Ham man Adrian has filled the void left by Alisson extremely well, there’s no doubt about it.
The Spaniard has wowed spectators and pundits with some incredible saves, stopped crucial one-on-ones from players like Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham, and helped the Reds lift the Super Cup.
Yet, there is a feeling that Jurgen Klopp’s men look dramatically less stable at the back than they did last season, and the incredible stat below makes it clear just how much they truly miss their number one.
Liverpool have conceded 12 goals so far this season, in 11 games
It was 28th November when they conceded their 12th last season
— SimonBrundish (@SimonBrundish) October 3, 2019
12 goals conceded in 11 matches isn’t exactly horrific, but considering it was nearly December before that number was breached last term, it is clear Alisson’s absence is being felt more than Adrian’s impressive form would suggest.
So what do the numbers tell us? Well, Adrian has a save percentage of 71%, which places him ninth in the Premier League.
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Last season however, Alisson led the league with a 78% save ratio, which is of course made even more impressive by the much larger sample size than we have for Adrian.
Looking at expected goals, we see that Liverpool allowed 29.15 xG in the league last term, but only conceded 22 goals, an impressive differential of 7.15.
This season, the Reds have conceded 7.28 xG and conceded five goals, once again implying that while Adrian is having a stellar start to life at Anfield, he simply isn’t the FIFA XI goalkeeper of the year.
On top of their abilities as shot-stoppers, there may also be a difference in leadership at the back with Alisson out injured – even some fans have noticed it too.
Adrian’s been excellent, but maybe the defence misses Alisson’s vocal leadership?
— John O'Sullivan (@NotoriousJOS) October 2, 2019
We need Alisson back asap. Our back 4 look shaky without his leadership.
— 24601 (@jblanier_) September 17, 2019
So, Alisson is a better shot-stopper, boasts a superior xG differential and the confidence he exudes seems to offer a security blanket of comfort for those in front of him.
Put simply – fear not Liverpool fans. Once the Brazil star returns, the defensive unit that conceded less goals than any team in Europe’s top five leagues last season should be back to doing what they do best – keeping clean sheets.