Alexis Mac Allister masterclass helps Liverpool seal statement victory

There was a moment during Liverpool's 4-0 win away to Bournemouth on Sunday when you could be forgiven for thinking Trent Alexander-Arnold was playing.

A stunning long-range pass was rifled out to Darwin Nuñez in inch-perfect fashion during the first half, with the trajectory of the first-time ball in windy conditions something to behold.

Alexander-Arnold could only watch the game at home because of injury, however, and it was Alexis Mac Allister who had pinged the ball that Liverpool's vice-captain would have been proud of.

It was a standout moment from the Argentine in a performance that was surely his best in a Reds shirt to date, as he put on a midfield masterclass on a potentially tough afternoon on the south coast.

There were understandable nerves leading up to Sunday's game, considering Bournemouth's recent form, the banana skin nature of the Vitality Stadium and the fact that Manchester City and Arsenal both won their last games.

Jurgen Klopp's men were outstanding, though, growing into the contest and eventually pummelling their opponents into submission, courtesy of some finishing brilliance from Diogo Jota and Nuñez.

It was a day that saw so many players shine for the Reds, from Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk in defence to Jota and Nunez in attack – a shoutout to Curtis Jones for another understated but priceless display, too – but Mac Allister was arguably the pick of the bunch.

At half-time, the scoreline was goalless and Liverpool hadn't exactly excelled in an attacking sense, but the 25-year-old was the one player who had been genuinely impressive from the off.

On the ball, Mac Allister's aforementioned pass to pick out Nunez caught the eye the most, but his quality in possession was consistently good, not least his ability to break the lines and open Bournemouth up numerous times.

He was equally good when it came to breaking up the hosts' play, however, and by the time the final whistle blew, his statistics made for stunning reading.

Mac Allister created four chances, which was more than any other player, and he was also superior to everyone in duels won (14) and interceptions (3). Not only that, but he made nine tackles, topping that list as well, and no Liverpool player in the last eight years has achieved a higher tally.

 

It was a near-faultless midfield performance from Mac Allister, who may not always have caught the eye as much as some of those around him, in terms of being a match-winner, but played an enormous role in Liverpool's statement victory.

Much has been made of Klopp's decision to play the World Cup winner as a No. 6 since signing him from Brighton last summer, with many expecting him to seamlessly slot into his preferred No. 8 position instead.

There have been some teething issues, with Mac Allister's lack of pace occasionally seeing him exposed in defensive midfield, and Wataru Endo's excellent pre-Asia Cup form even leading to some calling for him to start regularly in place of him.

The Argentina international's performance on Sunday silenced the doubters, however, and showed exactly what he can bring to the position.

He is supremely gifted on a technical level, with his build and style on the ball naturally drawing comparisons with former City ace Ilkay Gundogan, and he is far more tenacious off the ball than he is often credited for, as his above stats highlight.

Alexis Mac Allister, Liverpool, Fulham, Pro Shots

Mac Allister has that rare ability to effortlessly dictate a game from deep, and the more he grows accustomed to the deep-lying role, the more impressive he is going to get, possibly becoming one of the best in Europe there.

He is still relatively young, which can be forgotten because of his level of maturity.

The arguments for signing an out-and-out elite defensive midfielder have been understandable, and there may still be times when Mac Allister is shown up in that position, but the Bournemouth game was the biggest sign yet that Klopp may have played a masterstroke using him this way.

The Liverpool manager couldn't hide his delight with his player in his post-match press conference, further suggesting that this is exactly how he will deploy Mac Allister moving forward.

He told reporters: "He didn't play the simple six at Brighton, but he's incredibly smart player, incredibly smart. And as long as you can create a compact formation mark he is an outstanding six. You can all tell me what you want but he is an outstanding six on the ball better than all sixes as you can imagine and against the ball he's just really strong."

While Mac Allister's first season at Liverpool has been a solid one to date, it's fair to say that it has also been stop-start at times, with an injury getting in the way midway through the campaign, and some international breaks seeing him return off the pace – not least away to Wolves when he was replaced at half-time.

Alexis Mac Allister - Pro Shots

Alexis Mac Allister - Pro Shots

With every game that passes, however, the more he looks like a wonderful signing, and the fact that the position he is being played in is completely different than at Brighton says so much about his versatility and tactical nous.

Mac Allister was a joy to watch as Liverpool trounced Bournemouth, and if Klopp's side are to go all the way in the Premier League this season, he is going to be a pivotal performer at the base of the midfield.

In Endo, the Reds also have another strong player – one who arguably covers ground better than his teammate, but is more limited in a technical sense – and it's great to see two such excellent options in one of the most important areas of the pitch.

When both are fit and available, Liverpool will have choices to make about how and when to use them best.

But for now, I just can't stop thinking about that Mac Allister pass.

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