Mac Allister’s Tactical Dilemma at Liverpool

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A Closer Look at Alexis Mac Allister’s Tactical Placement at Liverpool

In a recent article by James Pearce of The Athletic, the spotlight was cast upon Alexis Mac Allister, the Argentine midfielder who has swiftly become a notable figure at Liverpool since his £35million move in June. Pearce points out, “There’s been plenty to admire — not least that exquisite assist for Darwin Nunez in the home victory over West Ham two weeks ago.” However, the article also highlights a persistent sentiment that Mac Allister might be a square peg in a round hole in his current role at Liverpool.

Mac Allister’s Role: A Tactical Analysis

Pearce observes, “Mac Allister isn’t being used in a role that best suits his attributes. He isn’t a specialist No 6 and at times that fact is glaring.” During his tenure with Brighton, Mac Allister was often utilized in a more advanced position or had Moises Caicedo alongside him when deployed deeper. Contrastingly, at Liverpool, he has been tasked with being the solitary defensive shield, presenting a distinctly different challenge.

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool’s manager, has been quoted saying, “Alexis’ best position? He’s too young (for me) to know in this moment,” which was stated before the 2-2 draw against Brighton. Klopp believes that if the team defends well collectively, Mac Allister can effectively play as the No 6.

The Defensive Midfield Dilemma at Liverpool

The departure of Fabinho to Saudi Arabia in July necessitated the acquisition of a holding midfielder, leading to the unexpected purchase of Wataru Endo from Stuttgart. However, the 30-year-old Japan international has started only one Premier League game since his arrival, indicating a potential adaptation period to Klopp’s requirements.

Mac Allister, despite his commendable performance metrics, such as having more touches in the game (93) than any other player and completing 65 of his 71 passes (92 per cent), has exhibited a mixed bag of performances. His role in intercepting Lewis Dunk’s pass, which led to Mohamed Salah’s equalising goal, was pivotal, yet moments of being easily bypassed and conceding free kicks in precarious areas have also been noted.

Brighton: Liverpool’s Persistent Adversary

Pearce notes, “Brighton’s status as Liverpool’s bogey team continues — that’s only one win in the last eight meetings with them in all competitions.” Klopp himself conceded, “I think it is the right result in the end. We kept the game open and we gave away too many set pieces. It was intense for both teams.” This acknowledgment of Brighton’s formidable presence against Liverpool underscores the strategic and tactical nuances that have defined their encounters.

Moving Forward: Addressing Liverpool’s Midfield Concerns

Despite the challenges, Liverpool remains in a respectable position moving into October’s international break, being just three points off the top with a new-look line-up. However, as Pearce rightly points out, “the No 6 role is an area of concern that needs addressing.”

Mac Allister, who is “operating in a position he wasn’t bought to fill,” as per Pearce, indeed showcases a dilemma that Liverpool must navigate. Allowing him to influence games further upfield might not only benefit the player but also provide Liverpool with a more dynamic and impactful midfield presence.

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