Alexis Mac Allister's Recent Breakout Is Crucial to Liverpool's Success

Macca has been given more freedom higher up, and it's paying off.

Sparta Prague v Liverpool - UEFA Europa League
Sparta Prague v Liverpool - UEFA Europa League / Anadolu/GettyImages

On Thursday, Liverpool beat Sparta Prague 5-1 in the UEFA Europa League Round of 16. Besides Darwin Nunez's sensational goal scoring exploits, it was Liverpool’s midfielder Alexis Mac Allister that was also a major factor in the victory.

The dilemma of constant injuries has hampered Liverpool all season, causing a short-handed Liverpool in multiple positions on the pitch.

However, having a glance at the table right away, the team, which has won the League Cup and just beat Sparta Prague on Thursday in the Europa League Round of 16, is still taking business seriously in the title races of the three remaining competitions (Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League). 

We have Wataru Endo to cover the base. He has contributed solidarity and composure as the only active true defensive midfielder; we have Caoimhin Kelleher filling the shoes of Alisson, who has earned three clean sheets since Jürgen Klopp handed over the full-time responsibility to him. However, we also have Mac Allister, who has six goal contributions in his last six matches. 

Liverpool signed Alexis Mac Allister for £35 million from Brighton. In addition to being a stalwart in helping Argentina to win the FIFA World Cup in 2022, Mac Allister came with proven Premier League experience, which provided him an outstanding advantage among other transfers throughout the off-season.

In the 2022-23 season, Mac Allister peaked while with Brighton. He showcased versatility and creativity as a midfielder, tallying 10 goals and two assists for the season and helping Brighton to secure a berth in the Europa League.

Despite struggling to find his footing initially at Liverpool, largely as a result of playing out of position, Mac Allister has eventually adapted to his new role under Klopp's tenure and shone in key moments.

Against Sparta Prague is one of the best examples to illustrate the impact of the Argentine International.

Three minutes into the match, Mac Allister’s diligent pressing at the front earned a penalty opportunity for the Reds. He then took the penalty for the opening goal, calmly and confidently putting it away.

Seeing Mac Allister calmly staring at the goal of Sparta Prague's side, he knocked the ball shallowly to the left and made his first penalty kick for Liverpool, setting the tone early for the team.

In stoppage time of the first half, Mac Allister was facing defensive pressure with the ball. He hadn’t turned his body around to face the offensive end but delivered a long-distance missile to Darwin Nunez, who later chopped it to the left corner of the net without adjustment. 

According to The Athletic, Mac Allister had the most passes completed in the first half, finishing 34 of his 36 attempts. He completed 51 passes with a 92.7% successful rate. Amidst the difficulty of the middle ladder, Mac Allister stepped up and continued to shine by creating opportunities and using the ball intelligently.

Dating back to the Luton matchup, Mac Allister has showcased his ability on set pieces and began regularly contributing goals. He recorded two assists during the match, including one corner kick for Virgil Van Dijk’s header.

Klopp assigned Mac Allister to take corner-kick decisions after Dominik Szoboszlai was off due to injury, who was regarded as the best option for kicking corners, receiving positive outcomes from him.

On the other hand, there’s no reason for not giving credit to Mac Allister’s defensive effort. Last season with the Seagulls, he put up a significant defensive performance with 70 tackles, 213 recoveries, and 22 interceptions.

Being in Liverpool with a relatively fragile defensive line at times, Mac Allister was expected to elevate his defense. He has recorded the team-most tackles/tackles won (60/35), blocks (48) and the second-most interceptions (26) in the squad this season so far.

When we compare the 25-year old Argentine to some other Premier League leading midfielders, Mac Allister holds up impressively with his defensive actions, passing, and playmaking, underscoring his treasurable trait for Liverpool which always seeks defensive strength and his fundamental element of thriving in the Premier League. 

As Liverpool navigates a season with a series of challenges, Mac Allister’s positional versatility is crucial to the multitasking Liverpool this year. His tenacity in recent performances gives confidence to the idea of him being integral to Liverpool’s ambition of winning four titles this season.