A Measured Response To Adrián

My goodness yesterday was frustrating. The Reds were genuinely brilliant, being by far the better team throughout and the only ones intent on scoring a goal. Quite how we lost to a side that absolutely no intention of attempting to score a goal is beyond me. That some want to sell Atletico Madrid’s progressing in the Champions League as some sort of Diego Simeone masterclass is laughable. If his tactical plan was really to depend on our players not being able to finish and Jan Oblak being brilliant then fair play, but it feels as though there were a lot of variables in there that he didn’t have any control over. It was the best we’ve played this calendar year. Despite the fact that he still doesn’t get the credit he deserves from some, I’m not overly surprised that it coincided with Jordan Henderson’s return from injury. He sets the pace that the team plays at and drives it on, being the metronome that the rest of the orchestra plays off.

It was also great to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain playing so well after what’s been a difficult campaign for him. He was starting to look like the player of old at the weekend, but last night was the best he’s played since his injury against Roma two seasons ago. In fact, it feels churlish to pick out any of the outfield players and suggest that the didn’t play well. I do think there’s a bit of a problem with Roberto Firmino at the moment, but even he was excellent in the second-half after a mixed first forty-five. Sadio Mané didn’t have the kind of influence we’ve grown used to from him, but given Kieran Trippier was that close to him I think they’re now roommates, it’s hardly surprising that the Senegalese forward struggled for space. Oblak is so good that our players seemed to be trying to find a postage stamp to beat him, much like in the days of David de Gea’s pomp. The same can’t be said for Adrián, but I still think he deserves defending.

He Never Should Have Played This Many Games

Finding a backup goalkeeper is an extremely difficult thing to do. The reality is that they’re not supposed to play all that often. Realistically they should get cup games and that’s it. That’s how it’s been since the beginning of time, so it’s not unreasonable that Jürgen Klopp and his team might well have expected that it would also be the case this season. Alisson Becker was ever-present during the last campaign, but sheer misfortune combined with some rather silly goalkeeping when he got himself sent off has let to the former West Ham shot-stopper appearing far more than he should have. In many ways, we’re actually fortunate that Adrián is as good as he. I can only imagine how much heads will have gone – my own included – if we still had Simon Mignolet on the bench. Adrián has played in eleven league games for us so far and we’ve won all of them, so it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

That’s not to say that I’m not disappointed in last night. There are many things that frustrate me about it, not the least of which is the fact that I’m not even sure what he was trying to do. He had all the time in the world and yet thumped it straight to one of their players. It was stupid and thoughtless, but it was a mistake. The problem isn’t even so much that he made it but that the rest of the team’s heads went down when it happened. It almost felt as though they gave up the second the ball hit the back of the net, conceding defeat. There’s an extent to which that’s not the most surprising thing, given it had taken them ninety-seven minutes to score two goals, so scoring another two in twenty must have seemed like an impossible task. It was just a surprising reaction from a side that has gleaned its success of late by having a brilliant mentality. Ultimately, though, the man between the sticks should have been there at all.

Alisson Is The Best In The World

You will always notice a drop off in quality when you’re moving from the best goalkeeper in the world to one that is just ok. Again, it’s worth repeating that we shouldn’t have had to play Adrián anywhere near as much as we have. A goalkeeper’s faults can be mitigated if you only have to play them every now and then, but when they’re playing a quarter of your league games and some high profile Champions League ones it becomes far more of an issue. Jan Oblak proved the difference between having an exceptional goalkeeper and a mediocre one last night, though even he was fortunate not to be punished more often than he was. He parried a number of shots into the middle of the box and it was only really because Atletico has ten men behind the ball that it fell to one of their players more often than it did to one of ours. Had we had Alisson in goal last night then it’s likely we’d be in the quarter-finals rather than the Spanish side.

It’s why Liverpool made the decision to spend the big bucks on the Brazilian in the first place. It’s also why I remain convinced that he’s out most important player, not Virgil van Dijk. If van Dijk makes a mistake then the goalkeeper can still bail him out, but if the goalkeeper makes an error then that’s the ball game. You win football matches by being better in both boxes. The Reds were brilliant as an attacking unit against Atletico, but just couldn’t finish their myriad of chances. The La Liga side, on the other hand, barely went into our half but didn’t need to work hard to put the ball into the back of the net. Adrián is arguably the best backup goalkeeper in Europe, but he’s not the best shot-stopper in the world. Little wonder, then, that he doesn’t look as good as his counterpart who very much is the latter. It was a mistake and Alisson has made similar ones himself. The difference is all about the timing of them. Premier League champions will have to do.

One Response
  1. March 13, 2020

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