Analysing Adam Lallana's sparkling Liverpool performance against Middlesbrough
Premier League title contenders Liverpool were enduring something of a blip ahead of their trip to Middlesbrough on Wednesday night. On a run of just one win in four league outings, Jurgen Klopp’s men were in vital need of a result to reignite their title challenge, and fortunately their prayers were answered at the Riverside. Two Adam Lallana goals either side of a Divock Origi strike saw the Reds seal a comprehensive 3-0 away win over the ‘Boro, which proved enough to see Liverpool move up into second, six points behind pacesetters Chelsea.
Liverpool exerted their dominance on the contest right from the off, but the star of the show was undoubtedly Adam Lallana, whose early goal set the Reds on their way, and he took full command in midfield as the visitors began to turn the screw on their hosts.
The former Southampton man scored from two of only three efforts he had on goal, the first was blocked on the edge of the Middlesbrough box on seven minutes as Liverpool quickly seized control of proceedings.
Lallana was a notable presence all over the park, and made his presence felt with four attempted tackles, one of which came off successfully against Maarten de Roon down the Middlesbrough right, though he did give away two fouls, one of which came in a danger area for Liverpool after he felled Adama Traoré on the right of his own penalty area just beyond the hour mark, but fortunately no opportunity materialised for the hosts.
Lallana was also unafraid to put himself about in the air, and it was his aerial threat from whence came his first big contribution of the match. Lallana won two of his four aerial duels, and it was third time lucky as he got the better of Adam Forshaw in the air following Nathaniel Clyne’s cross from the right to nod Liverpool in front and finally make the visitors’ dominance count.
From this point, Lallana began to take command. He tracked back to contribute defensively, making three clearances inside his own penalty area and putting in one goal saving block in the face of a stinging Adam Forshaw effort, as the hosts threatened to punish Liverpool’s inability to kill the game. He also took the game by the scruff of the neck in midfield, dictating play with incisive passing, 85% of which found their intended target.
Having contributed to the cause defensively, a major boost given the scrutiny the Reds defence has come under of late, Lallana then flexed his muscles again at the other end, registering an assist with the only chance he created all game, with a sumptuous cross at the end of a fine team move to leave Divock Origi with a tap in. Liverpool were 2-0 up on the hour mark, and by this time any nerves had finally begun to settle.
Lallana was at the centre of everything Liverpool were doing well, and it was his final touch that helped kill the game once and for all, side footing home a lay-off from Origi, who this time turned provider for his teammate. Lallana has now been involved in 12 Liverpool goals this season, scoring six and making six, already an improvement on the 10 goals he was involved in over his 30 Premier League appearances in 2015/16.
Throughout this contest, he provided Liverpool’s creative spark, and his two goals simply rounded off a sumptuous display. Lallana’s first goal was the first time an English player has assisted another English player for Liverpool in the Premier League this season, and he has now both scored and assisted a goal in three different Premier League games this season; no player has done so more than him.
There was another piece of history for Liverpool on the night, as it was their first win at the Riverside in seven attempts, the last coming way back in March 2002. The Reds never looked under any threat here however, much of which was owed to Lallana’s brilliance, and the England midfielder is undoubtedly beginning to show just how important he is to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side, and if he can continue to replicate this form, there is no reason why he cannot add a Premier League medal to his growing resume.
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