Adam Lallana has yet to turn out for Liverpool so far this campaign since sustaining a long-term thigh injury in preseason but could make his first competitive appearance of the season in tonight’s Champions League reverse fixture against Sevilla. This is a big deal, bigger than many realize. Without the former Southampton man, the Reds have often looked disjointed and imbalanced for much of the 2017-18 campaign, forcing Jürgen Klopp to dig deep into his bag of tricks to build some semblance of stability.
The loss of production that produced eight goals and seven assists in 27 games last season would obviously be significant for any side. However, it is the 29-year-old’s capacity to fully support both the attack with his advanced midfielder skillset, and the defense with an unstoppable motor and nose for the press that has sorely been missed.
As Roberto Firmino’s rival at Anfield in the contest to be named Klopp’s favorite son, the silky-smooth Lallana has arguably benefited more than anyone else in the squad from the German’s reign. He has grown from strength to strength in the two years he has spent under Klopp’s tutelage, shedding his reputation as an indecisive twinkle toes on the way to becoming the key cog both for club and country.
“In my year in charge, Adam Lallana has been our best player,” Three Lions’ manager, Gareth Southgate said recently in dubbing the Liverpool man as England’s ‘creative spark’ over Tottenham’s Dele Alli.
“If you analyze [Alli’s] game closely, he’s a scorer of goals and he’s not necessarily the link player Adam is.”
Watch this montage of all 92 goals Liverpool scored last season (yes, it’s almost 10 minutes long but you weren’t really doing work anyway).
Lallana’s 15 goal contributions certainly show up, but more striking is how often he is involved right up there with the forward players at the key moments leading up to goals scored or assisted by others. What Liverpool have lacked at times this season is the attacking overload of a midfielder of Lallana’s skill level going forward who also possesses the motor and desire to get back to make a tackle in his own box after losing possession. Philippe Coutinho is good enough tracking back, and Gini Wijnaldum and Emre Can are decent enough going forward, but none of them combine the two quite like Lallana.
Christmas has come early at Anfield.