Please, stop comparing Alisson with average goalkeepers

Does anybody else feel outraged whenever fans and pundits lump the likes of Ederson and David Raya in with Alisson Becker? 

We’re forever being told that these guys are the benchmark for modern-day goalkeepers that they’re just as good between the sticks as they are with their feet.

It may sound extreme but I’m always a little perplexed when I hear such nonsense being spouted.

Because while Ederson, and to an extent Raya, are decent all-round goalkeepers, they aren’t close to the level of the Liverpool No. 1.

Alisson is the best shot-stopper in world football. I’d argue he’s the best in Premier League history. In fact, he is the best in Premier League history, but rival fans won’t acknowledge it because he’s a Liverpool player.

He’s also quite useful with the ball at his feet, though he’s not as good as his compatriot Ederson at playing out from the back. He’s better than most though.

Alisson is the reason Liverpool are in a title race this season.

The Reds leapfrogged Arsenal into top spot in the Premier League after a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace. In his first game back since the 1-1 draw with Manchester City, the Brazil international was the difference-maker.

He made two vital saves. The first arrived in the first-half when he somehow got a hand to a Jefferson Lerma effort from what was basically point-blank range. Alisson got strong hands to the effort and parried it onto the post before the ball was cleared by the defence. Then, late into stoppage time, Joachim Andersen had a header from close range palmed away by Alisson when it looked easier to score.

Per Understat, Lerma’s effort had an Expected Goals value of 0.46 while the Andersen header was valued at 0.36. Palace even finished the game with a higher Expected Goals haul than Liverpool (1.79 to 1.37).

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 9, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker makes a save in injury time during the FA Premier League match between Crystal Palace FC and Liverpool FC at Selhurst Park. Liverpool won 2-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

An average keeper likely concedes at least two goals against Palace. But Alisson, once again, showed why he’s far from average. It is the norm for the former Roma shot-stopper.

He joined the Reds in 2018 and Liverpool have outperformed their Expected Goals Against numbers ever since. Per UnderStat, the Brazilian shot-stopper has prevented an average of 6.9 goals per season across his five full seasons on Merseyside. What are we saying is the points value of a goal prevented? I reckon you could make a case for these 6.9 goals being worth a minimum of 10 points per season.

For context here, Liverpool have, on average, exceeded their Expected Points tally by 8.9 since Alisson joined.

His highest individual over-performance for the Reds was last season (8.77) while his lowest was during the 2020/21 campaign (5.3).

So far this term, he’s prevented an additional 6.51 goals. Now, on the one hand, it is bad that he is this busy. But maybe Liverpool just trust their shot-stopper and it allows them to play in an aggressive way that does see the opposition get higher-value chances. That never seems to be taken into account. If I had the best keeper in the world, I’d be much more willing to take chances.

Do you not think that is why the Reds signed him?

During his final season with Roma, he had an over-performance of 10.46 in Serie A. He is just an unbelievable goalkeeper. He is peerless in the game right now.

People try to put Ederson in the conversation but I couldn’t disagree more. More often than not, the City shot-stopper under-performs when looking at goals conceded and Expected Goals Against. People just think he’s decent because City are so resolute defensively so he’s barely involved.

Alisson is one of the few goalkeepers playing for a top team who is actually busy, and that is why he’s peerless and has been for the best part of a decade now.

So, let's stop comparing him to average shot-stoppers and start giving him the credit he deserves.

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