Alisson Becker’s Impact
There are key elements within this exciting Liverpool 2.0 group, that have had their world-class credentials and importance carried over from the first phase of Jürgen Klopp’s Anfield tenure.
A couple of years back (in the 2020/21 campaign), the Reds’ fanbase were subjected to almost an entire season without their current captain, Virgil van Dijk, after he was scythed down by the very limited goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford. That very season gradually slipped into complete disarray, thereby requiring a spectacular headed goal from the subject of this piece, for Champions League qualification to be attained. Since the arrival of our illustrious German manager back in 2015, steadily there have been world-class assets added to the squad, to establish Liverpool FC as one of the world’s finest once more.
The Irreplaceable Role
Sometimes world-class is not enough to be the best, with an even higher station reserved for those irreplaceable figures that allow their teammates and thus their club to flourish even more so. Steven Gerrard is a prime example of such esteem, as well as Roy Keane, Kevin De Bruyne, and a few more that gave even more than even their elite talents portrayed. Within this current group at Anfield, both Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk are the standard bearers that raise the level for the entire outfield squad.
Alisson’s Unique Contribution
These are the types of wonderful individuals that stand alongside those all-time legends above, however, there is one more player that deserves mention, which is the world’s greatest goalkeeper, Alisson Becker. It is probably cliché to say that I have run out of superlatives, when remarking the Reds’ fabled number one. It is sometimes an unpopular opinion to label the former Roma stopper as the Premier League’s greatest ever keeper, yet it is surely now an undeniable fact.
Alisson Becker has the best save percentage in the Premier League so far this season.
HUGE miss for Liverpool. 😩 pic.twitter.com/sK5wsxAxVI
— Squawka (@Squawka) November 29, 2023
The Blessing of the Injury
It would not be out of place to say that the giant Brazilian has been the most vital piece of the Liverpool puzzle, ever since he arrived from Serie A in 2018. A club and world record fee were paid (to Roma) to ensure Michael Edwards got his man, which showed how much he was valued whilst being pursued. The 6ft 4inch South American is the greatest keeper in the history of one of football’s most celebrated and successful clubs, which is why I struggle to fathom a time when either he, Virgil, or Mohamed Salah, are no longer at the club. Some key players have been shed since I started supporting the Reds over four decades ago, which shows how much I value the ongoing success and contribution of those current three. Given all this, I am still of the belief that to undertake a successful and silverware-laden campaign, the recent injury to Alisson Becker can serve as a pre-Christmas blessing, one which can enable rather than disable the Reds’ current momentum.
Anticipated Impact and Recovery
How Can Losing Ali Be a Positive…? To say that losing our elite level keeper to any injury is a blessing, may be a stretch, though it has come at a moment when it may suit both he and one other. So far this season, the 31-year-old has started fourteen games for his club, amassing 1,260 minutes on the pitch. Additionally, on the 17th and 22nd of November, the 63-cap Brazil international also played the entirety of both losses (for his country) against Colombia and Argentina respectively. The amount of travel and high-profile game time has clearly taken its toll on our celebrated man between the sticks, which culminated in a hamstring injury against Manchester City last Saturday. Despite not being an ideal scenario to have our undisputed best goalkeeper available for a few weeks, the timeline and forthcoming fixtures are not overly frightening and will allow some important rest and recovery time for the former Internacional academy graduate.
What Games Will He Miss…? Below are the games that Alisson Becker is expected to miss, before his return against the Reds’ arch-rivals, Manchester United, on December 17th.
30th November – LASK – Home
3rd December – Fulham – Home
6th December – Sheffield United – Away
9th December – Crystal Palace – Away
14th December – Union Saint-Gilloise – Away
Opportunity for Kelleher
What About Caoimhin Kelleher…? What we have seen this season, is Liverpool’s backup keeper, Caoimhin Kelleher, struggle to replicate his domestic cup heroics from last season. It must be difficult knowing that taking top spot is an almost impossible task, on top of the lack of bids that he had probably hoped would arrive last summer. The number one shirt will eventually be found at another destination; however, only confident performances will attract the type of clubs that the 25-year-old Irishman will be craving. The talented (yet inexperienced) stopper now has a clear pathway of games and the backing of his manager over the coming few weeks, which can reinvigorate his stuttering form.
It's now time for Caoimhin Kelleher to show the full extent of his talent during Alisson Becker's time out due to his injury 🙌
Let's all back him, Liverpool fans 🇮🇪 pic.twitter.com/yRn2pC7KvO
— Anfield Edition (@AnfieldEdition) November 29, 2023
No single Liverpool fan can doubt the ability of the deputy manager in gloves, yet the diminishing self-worth of the player may be something that needs this upcoming game time, now more than ever. The listed fixtures (up until United arrive at Anfield) are a cluster of games that should be won by Klopp’s men. If success is to be achieved within this season of change and regeneration, then those games must be overcome, even without their preferred man in goal. I can only see Crystal Palace away as the problematic venture (for any team with lofty aspirations), yet even they will be without both Cheick Doucouré and Eberechi Eze. As far as season-defining injuries go, this should not be one, unless Liverpool 2.0 completely implodes.
Therefore… The Christmas period is hectic and this upcoming schedule represents the make-or-break period that every ambitious team must encounter. European and domestic cup competitions are also on the slate, which would not have seen Ali involved anyway. I may often choose to look at the positive of most football-related situations, though in this instance, I am keen to welcome back a fully charged and healthy goalie, just in time for the annual visit (and hopefully defeat) of those we like to beat the most, Manchester United. I just hope that return is on the back of a stream of wins and not losses.