Liverpool have kicked off their Premier League 2018/19 campaign in style, brushing off West Ham United with a 4-0 thumping victory. This game also marked the Premier League debut for the most expensive goalkeeper at the moment, Liverpool’s new number one Alisson Becker.
It goes without saying that Jurgen Klopp’s side are one of the most favourites to lift the title this season. They already had a formidable attacking lineup in Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, to which they have added talented midfielders like Fabinho and Naby Keita. With experienced folks like Jordan Henderson and James Milner, this midfield and attack is arguably the best of the league. And that brings into attention the Liverpool defense, something that troubled the Reds for most parts of the last season.
However, this time, Klopp can be proud of a much more reliable defensive setup. This started with the last winter signing Virgil Van Dijk. People frowned on the hefty price Liverpool paid for the Dutchman, but fact remains that following Van Dijk’s inclusion, the team have been extremely sound on the defense. In fact, since 24th February, they have conceded only one goal at the Anfield.
To add to this, this summer, the Premier League giants have brought in Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker. The former AS Roma custodian was magnificent between the sticks last couple of seasons, and needless to say, he makes Liverpool even stronger. On that note, Van Dijk shared his thoughts on what is special about the new recruit.
“He [Alisson] is very good”, Van Dijk said after the West Ham victory. “We speak a lot. He’s very vocal and that helps. It helps me and everyone in the back-line. His presence is very good as well. He has a lot of qualities on the ball and that helps us playing. We’ve worked on it the whole pre-season and we’ll keep practising. There’s still a lot to do.”
The defender reflected more on the Sunday’s game, “It was a very good performance, almost complete. Good goals, maybe we should have scored a bit more. Clean sheet, we kept it tight. Something to build on. [But] it’s just one game. We had a good pre-season with good results and games where we’ve played very well but we can do a lot better and it’s just the start. The key is we need to be very consistent and do it every game.”
The reliable centre-back further added that the most important thing is to look at themselves and keep improving. He admitted that Liverpool have a great squad now, “Everyone who plays for Liverpool has a lot of quality. It’s all about being consistent. We want to challenge for any competition but we must look at ourselves. Of course we want to challenge. I do not feel any pressure in that case but we play every game to win, that’s how our mindset is. Against West Ham our focus was good and now we recover before focusing on Crystal Palace [for Monday], which is going to be a very tough game.”
With both Alisson and Van Dijk on song, it seems that the chemistry is going right for the Reds. They are surely the favourites to go big this time.
Photo by Ben Sutherland