Jurgen Klopp must use Liverpool man Gary Neville, thinks it’s ‘best of a mile’
Liverpool have found their way back into the Premier League title race – but the Reds will need to rely heavily on one of their key men to get the job done.
Just a few months ago, the Premier League title race seemed already over and dusted off.
Manchester City have pulled away from Liverpool and Chelsea after all three made an electric start to the season – but the Reds have brought their rivals back since the start of the year and are now just a point behind the champions In title.
And with Liverpool set to return to action ahead of Manchester City this weekend thanks to their early kick-off against Watford, the Reds know they have the opportunity to give themselves a huge mental boost in the race for the title by beating City; even if it’s only for a few hours.
The £37m capture of Luis Diaz has certainly helped reinvigorate the Reds’ title charge – but it’s another key man at the other end of the pitch who has played a quiet but central role in the remarkable revival of Liverpool in recent months.
Alisson has arguably been head and shoulders above the rest of the Premier League since joining Anfield in 2018. The Brazilian shot-stopper has inspired the Reds to domestic and European accolades since being lured away from Roma in a £67million contract – and it has proven invaluable once again since the turn of the year.
The Reds looked shaky at the back earlier in the season, throwing up cheap goals to leave their title challenge on rocky ground. But Liverpool’s rearguard – brought together by Alisson – is now back to its best; conceding just two goals in their last 10 games to push Jurgen Klopp’s side back into the title picture.
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It’s a situation that mirrors the state Liverpool were in before the Brazilian’s arrival, where the Merseyside side had suffered a number of near misses in their bid to reclaim their place at the top of English football. Alisson and Virgil van Dijk were the signings that helped the Reds change that.
While it’s almost impossible not to focus on the heavy artillery Liverpool boast of in their star-studded attacking ranks, their defensive steel shouldn’t be underestimated during the run-in.
If Liverpool can shut out Manchester City in a blockbuster clash later this month, they know they have the firepower to hurt their title rivals. And the Reds also have the basics to stay ahead of Pep Guardiola’s men in the final month of the season – if Alisson can maintain his recent purple spot.
The 29-year-old played a crucial role in Liverpool’s superb 2019/20 title-winning campaign; a triumph that broke an agonizing 30-year title drought. Two years ago, Gary Neville said Alisson was the ‘best’ Premier League goalkeeper ‘by a mile’ and could be the difference in the Reds’ bid for the title – and it could be proven again in the final weeks of this season.
He told Sky Sports in 2020: “When you have an exceptional goalkeeper, the difference it makes is off the scale. From a good goalkeeper to a great goalkeeper, the points you will earn are not quantifiable. Alisson does it week after week outside.
“Even at Crystal Palace on Saturday, Liverpool were by far the better team, but there was a 20 minute period at the start of the game when there were a few moments where Alisson made a save, where if that happens the things could change.
“He makes stop after stop, right call after right call, he’s made the fewest mistakes, and he gives complete assurance and authority to everyone else on this team.
“It’s the hardest decision on the pitch, but for a top team that’s going to win the league or the Champions League, I don’t know how you’re going to win without having an amazing goalkeeper, and that’s a amazing keeper.
“They went from number two in the Champions League, number two and three in the league, without him, to number one.
“They were never going to win the league with the previous keepers. In a million years, that’s never going to happen. It’s eight, 10, 15 points. You can’t quantify it.”