Football

Are Alisson and Fabinho the unsung heroes in Liverpool title chase?

Liverpool are well in the race for the Premier League title after Chelsea dropped points against Manchester United at the weekend.

Manchester City did, however, beat West Ham to stay in the hunt. There are now just three points separating the Reds, Chelsea and City at the top. It is the London outfit who are just about ahead. They sit top on 30 points, with the Manchester club in second and Liverpool in third.

Jurgen Klopp’s attackers have justifiably been gaining much of the credit for the club’s displays this season. After the win against Southampton, the league’s goal-scoring chart was dominated by the Merseyside forwards.

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota occupied the top three spots. But Leicester’s Jamie Vardy has upset things after his double against Watford. Salah tops the list with 11. Vardy is second on nine, followed by Mane and Jota on seven each.

But to say Liverpool’s success has been all about the attack would be very unfair. Virgil van Dijk has been as immense as usual. And Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have once again been crucial at both ends of the pitch.

There have, however, been two Reds that have been of huge importance to the club’s superb record; Alisson and Fabinho. Their displays have somewhat gone under the radar this season.

Alisson quickly becoming a Liverpool legend

The goalkeeper boasts seven league clean sheets from 12 appearances this season. That is joint-top with Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy and City’s Ederson. But the Liverpool shot-stopper is much more than just clean sheets.

His brave and critical decision-making has been of huge importance. And that has particularly come to the fore when the likes of Alexander-Arnold and Thiago have lost the ball in poor areas. Over-confidence at the back has led to several opportunities for opposition teams. But Alisson has been a brick wall in goal, blocking shots with his entire body.

In terms of his handling, he has made 29 saves, 11 punches, and seven high claims. And with his footwork – which could be improved slightly – he has made 410 passes, at an average of 34.17 per match. Moreover, his 50 accurate long balls have helped release the likes of Salah and Mane on the break.

The Brazilian now has 51 clean sheets in 112 appearances for the club.

Fabinho central to club’s success

Like Alisson, Fabinho has often been the last line of defence. From corners or deep set-plays, the midfielder is usually the one Klopp relies on most. His tenacity for a crunching tackle or a crucial interception has saved the Reds from countless counter-attacks this season.

He has made 58 recoveries, 13 interceptions, 10 clearances and has won 35 duels in his nine appearances so far.

Fabinho goes about his work quietly and efficiently. He sticks to his job better than any other in the team; shielding the defence and never straying too far forward. It is a similar role to that of Man City’s Rodri.

Both players break up the play, doing the dirty work that other midfielders simply don’t do. Incidentally, when finally allowed to burst forward, both have proven they are more than capable of firing home from distance.

About the author

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Peter Lynch

Sports Journalism graduate from the University of Stirling, huge Liverpool and Northern Ireland fan, currently working as a freelancer.

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