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Talking Tactics

Outstanding Alisson the man to rival De Gea

Adrian Clarke 29 Jul 2018
Alisson, Liverpool

Adrian Clarke on why Liverpool's new signing can be one of the best Premier League goalkeepers in 2018/19

Adrian Clarke analyses the tactical impact Premier League summer signings will have on their clubs.


Liverpool's most recent move in a terrific summer transfer window is the acquisition of Alisson.

The goalkeeper will unquestionably strengthen Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI.

Rapid reflexes

Alisson was kept busy last season.

Playing in a Roma team known for attacking and not defending, Alisson faced an average of 3.65 shots on target per match in Serie A.

But although he was so active the 25-year-old still claimed 17 clean sheets from 37 appearances.

While shot-stopping should be a skill of every top-class keeper, Alisson’s reflexes set him apart.

The Brazil international, who kept Manchester City’s Ederson out of the starting XI at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, is especially quick at reacting to efforts from close range.

He made 67 stops from shots inside the penalty area last season. That was 26 more than Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet combined.

Alisson’s save percentages were significantly higher than both of his new Liverpool team-mates, too.

Saves: Alisson v LIV goalkeepers
2017/18 Alisson Karius Mignolet
Appearances 37 19 19
Saves 109 31 36
Save % 79.3 68.9 59.3
Save % shots in box 72.8 61.8 47.6
Save % shots out box 93.0 90.9 88.2
Narrowing the angles

The Brazilian is extremely fleet-footed. It is a trait that is bound to catch the eye of Liverpool fans.

Alisson’s excellent movement makes him an expert at closing down angles for onrushing forwards.

When opposition strikers are setting themselves to shoot in one-on-one situations, expect Alisson to shuffle forward decisively at speed.

By the time they look up, the target will have shrunk in size.

Preventing goals

This part of Alisson’s game is one factor behind his superb ratio of saves to expected goals.

Expected goals (xG) measures the likelihood of a shot ending in a goal based on several variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal.

Based on quality of shots he faced, Alisson should have conceded 8.31 more goals than he did.

He was the leading goalkeeper in the Serie A Expected Goals on Target (xGOT) standings, which shows how many goals a team should have conceded compared to their actual total.

The only Premier League players to fare better than Alisson last season were Manchester United's David De Gea (+13.66) and Nick Pope (+10.26) of Burnley.

xGOT in 2017/18
  Alisson Karius Mignolet
xG conceded (exc. own goals) 36.3 13.4 23.2
Goals conceded (exc. own goals) 28 14 24
xG prevented 8.3 -0.6 -0.8
League rank 1 23 24
Sweeper 'keeper

Liverpool’s ferocious pressing style means they often have to play with a high defensive line, but until now they have not had a goalkeeper who is natural at sweeping up.

They conceded 38 goals last season, the joint-most among the top five teams, and were caught out on several occasions by passes that dissected their central defenders.

The speedy Alisson is well equipped to become Liverpool's "sweeper 'keeper".

Statistically, he came off his line to clear danger more times than Karius or Mignolet managed in 2017/18. This will stop Liverpool from being caught out by long balls played over the top.

Ederson caught the eye with his pinpoint passing last season and although Alisson cannot quite match his compatriot’s 85 per cent pass accuracy, he is still a fine distributor.

Playing out from the back should therefore come easier to Klopp’s men this season, knowing that their goalkeeper has the confidence find his midfielders with precise passes.

Sweeping: How Alisson compares
2017/18 Alisson Karius Mignolet
Accurate sweepings 41 13 9
Clearances (inc. punches) 39 15 13
Passes 1082 521 498
Pass accuracy 78.9 67.2 69.5

Alisson, who is also excellent at taking high claims, should give Liverpool added confidence.

And at the age of 25 there is still scope for more improvement.

There is no doubt about it, Liverpool have signed one of the world’s best.

See: Talking Tactics - 2018/19 summer transfers 

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