By Mizgan Masani.
Looking back at the past couple of months, during which Liverpool have played a lot of games, there has been a sense of “inevitability” creeping to the fore, where opposition teams are lining up against Jürgen Klopp’s men beaten even before the ball is kicked. This “fear-factor”, and the respect and acknowledgement of every other team in the world, has been earned by this team over a period.
You could attribute this relentless run of results to many factors – the collective mentality and will to win of the squad, the confidence instilled by their successes, the manager himself. But their improvement at the back is surely a major contributing factor.
From the start of this season till the first week of December, before the game away at Bournemouth, Liverpool had kept only two clean sheets in league and Champions League games.
Since then, they have managed to keep nine shutouts in 11 games in league, UCL and Club World Cup. Furthermore, 10 of those games had the central defensive partnership of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez in place, with keeper Alisson in goal at some point. Out of the 10 games where the van Dijk-Gomez-Alisson trio featured at the heart of Liverpool defence, eight of them were from the start of the game (the other two occasions had Dejan Lovren coming off and Gomez coming/moving to central defence). Hence, we will take the numbers of those eight games to know how this partnership has been the best for the Reds.
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