With seven goals and seven assists so far this season, Adam Lallana has been involved in more goals than any other Premier League midfielder. Going all the way back to the start of 2016, his 11 goals and 10 helpers over the entire calendar year similarly set the high water mark.
He has been Liverpool’s player of the season so far. He might even be the Premier League’s player of the season so far. And though he certainly impressed in 2015-16 under Jürgen Klopp, he has been a revelation since dropping back into the centre of the park for the 2016-17 campaign.
“It made sense because he’s very good in small spaces,” Klopp told reporters at his pre-Sunderland press conference when he was asked about Lallana’s positional shift. “He’s a very quick player but his biggest strength is not being quick, it’s his decision-making in small spaces.”
In August, and especially against Arsenal, Lallana did make some mistakes. Too often he held the ball too long in deep areas, something that he was more able to get away with when higher up the pitch but that was punished with chances and goals against when he did it centrally in his own end.
It didn’t take long, though, for the 28-year-old to adjust his approach and settle into his new midfield role. Then to excel, looking like it’s the place he should have been playing all along. Then turning into, over the past six months, the league’s best and most influential midfield player.
“He can open the game in one-on-one situations when everybody would have pressure,” added Klopp. “He doesn’t because his movements are quick. He has a wonderful orientation and needed to adapt a little bit, against Arsenal he lost the ball, but he has all the technical abilities for it.”