When Adam Lallana first signed for Liverpool from Southampton, many were skeptical about the number of times he had failed to play out the full ninety for his former club. What many overlooked at the time, and then continued to overlook, was how much the England international ran when he was on the pitch.
Lallana was one of the league’s most substituted players in 2012-13 and 2013-14 with Southampton, but he was also amongst the top five in total distance run. In both seasons. Amongst all league players. The real answer was obvious: Lallana was often subbed off because of how much he ran, not because of a lack of fitness.
It’s not a difficult concept. Or at least it doesn’t seem as though it should be. Lallana was being substituted regularly because he ran more in 60 minutes than 99% of the players in the league ran in 90. Still, Lallana as a player who lacked stamina remained an idea that was hard to shake for some Liverpool fans.
If the last two games of the 2016-17 season doesn’t put that to rest once and for all, nothing will. That’s because in Liverpool’s previous game, against Tottenham Hotspur, Lallana set the standard for distance covered in by any Premier League player so far this season, running 12.5 km against the London title aspirants.
Then, over the weekend, Lallana hit 13.1 km against Leicester City. So far this season, with Everton vs. Sunderland still to come in the fourth round of league games tonight, there have been 780 starts for outfield players in the Premier League. And Adam Lallana has the top two spots for distance covered.
More than even towards the end of last season, it’s clear that Lallana now, more than any other player, is the one setting the tone for Jürgen Klopp’s gegenpress. He is the team’s drive, its engine, and the purest representation of the manager’s will on the pitch. Or at least he will be until his legs fall off.