Adam Lallana’s performance for England against Germany, drew widespread praise as the forward led the Three Lions’ high-press tactics. It is something he has been doing each week for Liverpool, with the general consensus being that he is now better than ever. But is this actually true?
Liverpool have been as inconsistent as is humanly possible this season, with outstanding wins over the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, while they then slumped to embarrassing defeats against Hull City and Swansea.
Whilst the latter are of course fighting for their lives and so a dangerous beast to face, they are two teams that Liverpool should really beat if they have realistic aspirations of gaining access to the Champions League.
One of the few spots of consistency for the Reds though, is Adam Lallana, with the forward showing just how much of a threat he can be when he is properly utilised. Jurgen Klopp’s high-pressing has played right into Lallana’s hands, with his incredible fitness allowing him to be a focal point of Klopp’s plans.
He has also picked up seven goals and as many assists this season, making him one of those players that is very under-appreciated, almost as much as N’Golo Kante – almost.
However, with all the furore surrounding the 28-year-old, it is far too easy to overlook the fact that Lallana was actually better at Southampton than he is now. Don’t believe it? We’ll, the stats speak for themselves:
His goal output has increased while at Liverpool, but that is most likely down to the huge emphasis Klopp places on attacking, while the other three stats show that the forward has actually dropped off slightly.
His pass completion is marginally worse now, but most interesting of all is the fact that he was almost creating two chances per game for the Saints, whereas now he is creating well under one and a half chances a game. His successful take-ons have nearly halved since moving to Liverpool, too.
Perhaps Lallana is seen as playing better now simply because he works far harder. Klopp’s ‘heavy metal’ approach sees the entire team press very high up the pitch, probably because Klopp sees his forwards as a better line of defence than his actual back-four.
This high-press allows Lallana to utilise his superb athleticism, drawing plaudits for his non-stop displays. However, this may actually detract from the fact he is not as creative as people seem to believe.
Of course, winning the ball back and running into space to fashion a chance for himself or a teammate is an admirable trait in a player, but, contrary to popular opinion, is this style actually stunting his creativity?
— LFC Transfer Room (@LFCTransferRoom) March 22, 2017
The above clip is indicative of the player Lallana has become. He did extremely well to pick the pocket of the German defender before blazing into the penalty area. His shot, while well struck, hit the post though. This displays that while his hard work creates chances, he is unable to take them regularly, perhaps due to a real emphasis on having to track the opposition.
Indeed, it is very unlikely that Eden Hazard would be seen constantly chasing back to defend and close down players, as he has Kante in the middle, a far less creatively inclined player, to cover for him.
There are still nine games left for the Reds and the forward can improve upon the above numbers. But it seems wholeheartedly premature to claim Lallana is far better than he was while at Southampton.
Before that can happen and for it to actually be true, the 28-year-old must increase his scoring output, he has to improve upon the stats above, and he must lead his team to Champions League qualification.
Thankfully for the England international, he has been appreciated by the Reds faithful. Unlike this under-appreciated bunch!