For all the attention given to their irresistible attacking triad of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino, much of Premier League leader Liverpool’s success this season is down to its highly effective defensive unit.
Liverpool currently sit top of the English Premier League, having played one more game than second-placed Manchester City. Though Liverpool have scored a very respectable 70 goals, it is the paucity of their defence which has secured their position. They have only conceded 18 goals so far this season, three fewer than Manchester City.
The arrival of Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton, and his galvanising effect on the back line, has been much heralded; but behind him another Liverpool new boy is perhaps having an even greater impact.
A New Generation of Goalkeepers
Alisson Becker became the world’s most expensive goalkeeper when he signed for Liverpool from Roma last summer. In March he completed his 17th clean sheet of the season, the most for any debutant keeper since Pepe Reina joined Liverpool in 2006.
As well as having conceded the fewest number of goals, Alisson leads the league in shots stopped. His dramatic season has led to Paddy Power offering odds of just 2/7 on him securing the goalkeeper slot in the EPL Team of the Year for this season.
Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has seen his status as the league’s leading goalie slip since the arrival of Becker and fellow Brazilian Ederson. However, De Gea remains second favourite, at 7/2, to be selected for the award.
With just seven league matches to go, Alisson’s success is in his own hands. Should he maintain his current form the award is surely his. However, if Liverpool are overtaken at the last by Manchester City, particularly if he is at fault for any goals conceded, City’s Ederson, currently offered at 8/1, will certainly become the new favourite.