Opinion: Liverpool’s Goalkeeping Problems Could Well Be Behind Them

Two months on from one of the worst nights of football for any Liverpool fan. After a hard-fought path to Kiev where they would face Real Madrid in an almighty showdown, Jurgen Klopp and his players were let down by two horrendous goalkeeping errors from Loris Karius. The German stopper was at fault for the first and last of Madrid’s three goals and his confidence has been shattered as a result. He has lost the support of the fans who have been fed up with the club’s inability to find and purchase a World Class goalkeeper but thankfully, their wait might just be over. Now Liverpool have secured a goalkeeper world record fee for Roma and Brazil number one, Alisson Becker. 

 

The night in Kiev was a very unfortunate one for Loris Karius. He started his career at Liverpool hoping to be the solution to their Simon Mignolet problems but if anything, he made matters worse. After multiple errors in net for the Reds, he was dropped and Mignolet came back in between the sticks. He too continued to make errors and even Danny Ward, the third keeper has been called upon from time to time in the past. Mignolet had a decent run of games at one point for Liverpool but that came to an end and Loris Karius was handed a second chance and officially announced by Klopp as Liverpool’s first choice.

After receiving the manager’s backing and a portion of the fans’ support too, Karius hit the ground running in a Liverpool shirt in the 2017/18 season. He began playing with confidence and had Liverpool fans believing that maybe he was the one especially during the build-up to the Champions League final. He was instrumental in the wins against Manchester City and AS Roma in the Quarterfinals and Semifinals respectively and headed to Kiev full of confidence.

 

Then it all went wrong, two horrendous errors against Madrid in the final and he was never going to recover. He was seen as a disgrace by Liverpool fans and despite all the apologies he made, most realised this was the end for him. Jurgen Klopp began searching, Thibaut Courtois of Chelsea was one option as was Keylor Navas of Real Madrid but the focus soon shifted to two of the world’s most in-form goalkeepers, Jan Oblak and Alisson Becker. Both had insanely high price tags on them and would take a record bid to sign them from their respective clubs and it appeared Klopp and the Liverpool owners weren’t prepared to pay those prices and that they would look for a cheaper alternative in Jack Butland.

However, a few days ago that all changed. The Merseyside club came to their senses and stepped up negotiations with AS Roma to push through a bid for Alisson. The Brazilian had only arrived in Rome a season earlier but that didn’t stop Roma from slapping an £80 million price tag on him. Liverpool was reluctant and as per multiple reports currently circulating, Liverpool has agreed on a deal for around £66 million plus bonuses. The keeper has now been announced as the new Liverpool goalkeeper and his quality has been desperately sought after at Liverpool for years. [Guardian]

So, why is this such good news for Liverpool? To put it simply, Alisson Becker is a world-class goalkeeper and immediately makes Liverpool strong title contenders. He acts a sweeper keeper and was immense in between the sticks for Roma last season. He kept 15 clean sheets in 34 appearances in the Serie A and made 2.71 saves per game, higher than Courtois (1.82), De Gea (2.59) and Lloris (2.11). His distribution will also be key to Liverpool’s success next season with their blistering pace up front allowing for swift counter-attacks. His distribution accuracy last season was a whopping 83%, higher than Courtois (75%), De Gea (63%), Lloris 79%) and Karius (72%). His ability to accurately release any of Liverpool’s front three could smell danger for Premier League defences but he will also give Jurgen Klopp the ability to play out from the back with a keeper who is comfortable on the ball. [Squawka]

An interesting stat to look at as always is xGA (expected goals against) which measures the number of goals that a team would be expected to concede judging by the position, accuracy and power of the shot. Thanks to Alisson’s heroics in goal last season, Roma conceded 12 fewer goals than they would have been expected to, whereas Liverpool conceded two more goals than they would have been expected to. This can drastically change Liverpool’s defensive record which has been shambolic in recent seasons and one of the main reasons they have struggled for success. [Liverpool Offside]

So, with goalkeeping problems potentially behind Liverpool, do you see them as strong title contenders or do you think they still have areas to improve on? Considering the key midfield signings of Fabinho and Naby Keita as well as the added squad depth provided by Shaqiri, they look like a team ready to win.  Do they have enough to stop Pep Guardiola’s incredible Manchester City side? Let us know by tweeting us @AllOutFootball_ using #AOF.