EPL

How do Liverpool compare with and without Alisson and Van Dijk?

By Sports Desk October 17, 2020

Liverpool are heading into a packed run of fixtures potentially without two of their most important players.

Goalkeeper Alisson, still battling a shoulder injury, missed the Merseyside derby with Everton and it remains unclear how quickly he will return.

Virgil van Dijk was then forced off early in the match at Goodison Park after a reckless challenge by Toffees keeper Jordan Pickford, who was fortunate that an earlier offside flag meant his lunge on the Liverpool defender went unpunished.

Jurgen Klopp will doubtless be concerned by the prospect of Alisson and Van Dijk being sidelined as he prepares for six games in the next three weeks.

We look back at Liverpool's fortunes under Klopp in the league without Van Dijk and Alisson in the side...

 

PILLARS

Van Dijk, of course, has only missed one league match since making his Liverpool debut following a £75million move from Southampton in January 2018. That was a 3-0 win at Huddersfield Town in the very month he arrived.

Similarly, Klopp's men have only failed to win twice in the 11 games Alisson has missed in the top flight, and one of those was Saturday's draw at Everton.

Of course, you would not expect either player to sit out matches lightly. They cost a combined fee of close to £150m and their arrivals helped to transform a previously suspect defence.

It's also undeniable that Liverpool were a far stronger side across the board by the time Van Dijk and Alisson arrived two years ago, with Klopp having had two to three years to implement his ideas and strengthen the collective unit, so any consideration of their form before those signings must be tempered.

But that's not to say there are not some worrying signs.

KLOPP'S BRICK WALL

Under Klopp, Liverpool have played 70 league games with Alisson and Van Dijk in the starting line-up. They have won 56, drawn 10 and lost four, giving them a win rate of 80 per cent – a truly remarkable figure.

By contrast, in 92 games without those two involved, Liverpool have won 49 times, drawn 27 and lost 16, their win rate dropping to 53.3 per cent and their points per game slipping to 1.9 from 2.5.

As mentioned, the Liverpool of October 2015 to January 2018 and the Liverpool since are two different animals, so we should explore things more deeply.

It's no surprise that, without Alisson and Van Dijk, Liverpool have conceded 110 goals – 1.2 per game – compared to just 51, or 0.7 per game, when they have played. But there is negligible difference in terms of their average shots faced per game: it's 8.3 with them and 8.8 without. That tells you the importance of a shot-stopper of Alisson's quality.

Indeed, Liverpool have conceded 13 goals in five league games in 2020-21 this season, the same number they let in after 15 matches last term and the most they have shipped in the first five of a campaign since 1953-54. Nine of those goals have come in the past two games, which Alisson missed.

 

ENGINE OF THE RED MACHINE

Not only do Alisson and Van Dijk control the back line, they dictate the way Liverpool operate.

The Reds average 62.9 per cent possession in league games with those two playing compared with 60.2 per cent without. Their passing accuracy in the opposition half also climbs by nearly three per cent to 79, despite the fact their number of passes into the final third on average drops from 75 to 68 when Alisson and Van Dijk play.

Those numbers indicate that not only do they bring an extra dimension to the attack with a proclivity for line-splitting passes, but they also help Liverpool assume control of games to an extent that their number of attempted forward passes diminishes.

Add to that the fact they win fewer fouls per game (8.2 compared with 9.4) and concede fewer per game (8.4 compared with 10.3) and the measure of authority they bring to these matches becomes clearer. Their absences, for however long, will be keenly felt.

Related items

  • Tuchel 'worried' as France goes back into lockdown due to coronavirus Tuchel 'worried' as France goes back into lockdown due to coronavirus

    Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel admitted he was "worried" after France went back into lockdown amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

    France headed into lockdown on Friday, when the country reported 49,215 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 545 deaths.

    Like sport around the world, Ligue 1 was suspended in March due to coronavirus, but the 2020-21 season is set to continue despite the wave of infections.

    Tuchel said he was concerned, but added he had become accustomed to being regularly tested for COVID-19.

    "We are not just professional players or coaches. We are human beings. These are big changes that influence everyone. We are worried like everyone else," he said.

    "It is our challenge and our responsibility to adapt to all the rules. We trust [French president Emmanuel] Macron and [German chancellor Angela] Merkel. That is a certainty. We have to do this together, it's our obligation.

    "We will accept all the rules and we will adapt. Here we are going through a lot of [COVID-19] tests.

    "It's almost a habit for me to have something in my nose. It has become a habit almost every morning."

    Ligue 1 leaders PSG visit Nantes on Saturday.

  • We're going to kill the players – Tuchel slams scheduling We're going to kill the players – Tuchel slams scheduling

    Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel hit out at the scheduling of games, warning the fixturing would "kill the players".

    The Ligue 1 giants will visit Nantes on Saturday in what will be their fifth game in 16 days.

    PSG will then face RB Leipzig and Rennes before the international break, and their players will return for 10 games between November 20 and the end of the year.

    Tuchel slammed the scheduling, with PSG having seen star Neymar suffer an adductor injury in a 2-0 Champions League win at Istanbul Basaksehir on Wednesday.

    "We're going to kill the players. That's what I've always said. We are going to kill them because there is an important link between preparation, performance and rest," he told a news conference.

    "In football it always falls on the greatest players because they will always play for their country. They play during the break, they travel and that's too much in my opinion. They don't have a recovery phase to allow them to come back and a preparation phase. This is not a secret, it happens in sport. Preparation influences injuries and performance.

    "Without preparation, players are more fragile and difficult to manage. This is not an excuse, it is the truth. We are going to look for solutions and I hope we will find some."

    Tuchel said it was not just his side dealing with injuries, highlighting setbacks at Premier League giants Liverpool and Manchester City and Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

    "Honestly, we came back [from Turkey on Thursday] and [Friday] is our second day after playing. It's the riskiest day in terms of injuries, which means we're doing almost nothing," he said.

    "We are working on recovery and training a little with those who haven't played at Basaksehir and [on Saturday] we are flying out to play another match, this time in Ligue 1.

    "We lose a player for every game at the moment and we are not the only ones concerned. Liverpool, Manchester City and Bayern Munich, it's the same thing."

    PSG top the Ligue 1 table after earning 18 points from their opening eight games.

  • Jackson expects 'lights-out game' between Ravens and Steelers Jackson expects 'lights-out game' between Ravens and Steelers
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.