It says a lot about the season that Alisson is having for Liverpool that the overwhelming opinion is that he has usurped David de Gea as the league’s main man between the sticks. With only six goals conceded in 16 matches and crucial saves to secure vital points for the Reds, he could be their bridge to a first ever Premier League title.
Club captain Antonio Valencia has not featured a lot for Manchester United this season, with rumours swirling that he fell out of favour with manager José Mourinho. He has however been a consistent and important player for the club in the last decade, starting out as a winger under Sir Alex Ferguson before converting to right back in the years since.
Virgil Van Dijk
Former Southampton defender Virgil Van Dijk has been another brilliant acquisition for Jürgen Klopp, who signed him from St. Mary’s in January. He has added a lot of steel to the team’s backline, and his ball-playing ability has helped to further enhance Klopp’s attacking ethos.
Another player who arrived from Southampton, Dejan Lovren has improved a lot in the last year at Liverpool. Previously seen as something of a liability, it has helped to have the steadying influence of Van Dijk beside him.
Not many people would have expected Andy Robertson to become so central to this Liverpool team when he joined them from Hull City last year. He was seen more as a stopgap solution for a problem position as the club searched for a more long-term option. His quality and consistency have however elevated him to compete with Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso for the label of best left-back in the league.
A 2017 acquisition from RB Leipzig, Naby Keita had to wait for a whole year before he could finally play for Liverpool. Once in red, he has also had to wait further to settle into the team and win a guaranteed starting spot. This does not mean that the Guinean powerhouse has underperformed. He has added grit and thrust to Klopp’s engine room, characteristics that will come in handy as competition heats up in the second half of the season.
One of Klopp’s greatest strengths at Liverpool has been his ability to seemingly bring the best out of most of his players. His decision to sign Georginio Wijnaldum from the relegated Newcastle United for £25m in 2016 was dismissed by some as a waste of money. Now the German tactician has converted Wijnaldum from a relatively good attacking midfielder to an excellent performer in the holding role.
Like Valencia, Paul Pogba makes it to this team despite having an under par season. In many people’s eyes, the Frenchman is not in fact to blame for his problems, with that responsibility firmly at the door of his manager’s tactics. It is not an argument that one would entirely disagree with, given that Pogba has enjoyed great success for his country and at former club Juventus.
In yet another lacklustre campaign for United, Anthony Martial – perhaps only alongside defender Luke Shaw – has been a solitary shining light for Mourinho’s men. With eight goals so far (seven of those in the league), he is the club’s leading goal scorer.
Mohamed Salah had a relatively slow start to the campaign, but that was only comparative to the heights he scaled last season. With four goals in his last two matches, he appears to be getting back to his best. Simply put, the electric Egyptian is the deadliest forward the Premier League has seen since Cristiano Ronaldo.
Senegal winger Sadio Mané has at times appeared to struggle to hit his best form under the shadow of Salah. Nevertheless, he has remained a lethal weapon in Klopp’s arsenal. On his day, he is as good in his position as anyone else in the division.