The Reds, with their “heavy metal football”, have been phenomenal so far and are the highest scorers in the League (46 goals) thanks to the front-five who have been ruthless. Coutinho, Mane, and Firmino have all been influential, but one player who has been key to Liverpool’s success - Adam Lallana.
From being an ineffective wide man under Brendan Rodgers to the leader of Liverpool’s pressing game, Lallana has come a long way. While most players tend to hit their prime at an age of 24 to 27, the former Southampton man has defied the trend elevating his performance to a whole new level at an age of 28.
The attacking midfielder joined Liverpool from Southampton in 2014 for a hefty 25 million and was one of the nine signings Brendan Rodgers made that summer. He initially struggled under then manager Rodgers enduring a difficult first season making just 27 appearances, scoring five in the process However, the 25 million-signing has been thriving since Jurgen Klopp took over Liverpool last October.
One of the main reasons why Lallana has been performing so well is Klopp. The German has a reputation for creating players out of nothing since his Dortmund days, and with Lallana, his coaching style and management definitely seems to pay dividends.
“Whatever he has done different to me, I think he has done to everyone. It isn’t just myself. As a team we are performing to a high level. I am enjoying working with him, I feel I have really good relationship with him and that he trusts me. I trust him as well and when you have that connection, he can say stuff to you that you don't want to hear and it doesn't feel negative or personal. It's always just business-related and wanting to win.” the 28-year-old was quoted saying.
Lallana managed four goals and racked up six assists last season in 2109 premier league minutes. This season, he has already netted seven goals and assisted a further six, which makes it 13 direct contributions to the goalsheet in the 15 games (1117 minutes) he has played so far. The midfielder contributed the same in 48 appearances under the former manager Brendan Rodgers.
Simply put, the Englishman is in form of his life.
Often used as a wide man under Brendan Rodgers, Lallana proved to be a weak link in the front line, his lack of pace acting as a constant hindrance in the final third. After Klopp took over, he was employed in a much-deeper role playing as a midfielder. Many eyebrows were raised in the beginning of the season watching Lallana starting in an unfamiliar midfield position. It is, however, proving to be a masterstroke from the German. The 28-year-old has been smooth as silk in midfield. The midfielder is now arriving in the box late, timing his runs to perfection and finding spaces to score and create goals. With his nimble feet and football intelligence along with pressing ability and work rate, Lallana has become one of the most influential member of the team.
His natural desire to retrieve the ball along with his tireless running makes him a total package and sets him apart from his teammates in the similar position, Wijnaldum and Emre Can. Having played a similar kind of game under Pochettino during his time at Southampton, the 28-year-old has the ability to read the game well and knows when to trigger a pressing move.
Also, he has the record of covering more ground than any other player in a match this season, his mammoth 13.7km run against West Ham a point in this case. The run outdistanced the previous record of 13.1km, set by Lallana himself in the 4-1 victory against Leicester City.
Lallana has been pivotal for Liverpool this season, stats proving the same as Liverpool’s win-rate with Lallana in the playing eleven is 77% with ten wins in thirteen matches. Without him, the winning-percentage drops to 25%, with just one win in four matches. Also, Liverpool has scored 44 goals in 16 appearances when Lallana started for the reds while they managed only 2 goals when the former Southampton was out due to injury.
It is certainly no coincidence that Liverpool’s most mediocre performance came in the absence of Lallana as they drew with Manchester United and Southampton displaying the midfielders Emre Can and Wijnaldum lacking the creativity and liquidity Lallana possesses. Clearly, the fluency in Liverpool’s attack is much more with Lallana in the side.
While Mane, Firmino, and Coutinho have often been named as Liverpool’s best player this season from many pundits, there is substantial evidence that Lallana has been in fact, more influential and crucial for Liverpool this season.
Playing under a manager who trusts him and thinks highly of his talents has given Lallana the confidence which he has taken on to the field. The Englishman is relishing the new midfield role as his influence in the team grows. Liverpool’s number 20 looks set to play a decisive role for the reds as they look to overhaul Chelsea in the Premier League title race in coming days.