Why 'unbelievable' Liverpool midfielder's season-lowest figures shouldn't spark alarm

Aston Villa captain John McGinn is challenged by Liverpool midfielder Alexis Mac Allister during the 3-3 draw at Villa Park. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)Aston Villa captain John McGinn is challenged by Liverpool midfielder Alexis Mac Allister during the 3-3 draw at Villa Park. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Aston Villa captain John McGinn is challenged by Liverpool midfielder Alexis Mac Allister during the 3-3 draw at Villa Park. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Aston Villa 3-3 Liverpool: The midfielder was dribbled past four times during the draw at Villa Park.

Alexis Mac Allister was dribbled past four times against Aston Villa during their draw in the Premier League - but why has it become a concern in the aftermath?

While Liverpool’s title charge has derailed in recent weeks, the fans and the players have continued to give everything for Jurgen Klopp in his final few games. However, Mac Allister was beaten four times in midfield by a talented Aston Villa side and while it can happen from time to time in games - especially against good teams - it now means that Mac Allister has been dribbled past 66 times in the Premier League this season which is more than any other Liverpool player in a single campaign across the last eight seasons.

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In the Argentinian’s case, there is another side of the coin to consider. While he has been dribbled past the second-most in the league this season, he sits sixth for tackles and has made more than double any other player in Klopp’s squad. His nature is to go after players and look to be aggressive - a trait he developed while playing next to Moises Caicedo but, at Liverpool, he has often had a different role as the deepest midfielder.

Klopp has hailed his signing over the course of the season and spoke glowingly after his incredible strike against Sheffield United, he said: “How can you not love a player like him? Or a boy like him? He’s incredible. He’s educated in the best possible way. He’s really polite, confident, funny, smart – and an incredible footballer. Oh my God!”

With Arne Slot to arrive, it will be interesting to see if he wants any additions in midfield. Mac Allister has the tools to play further forward as he possesses great vision, first touch, ingenuity and an eye for goal. But he does offer an aggressive threat in the tackle that is based on taking risks - and those risks are better suited to being higher up the pitch.

Previous targets such as Wolves’ Joao Gomes or Fulham’s Joao Palhinha are more positionally secure defensive midfielders who operate deeper and have less attacking responsibilities. Both are within the top three tacklers in the league with Gomes managing 122 (joint-second) and Palhinha registering a league-best 150.

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Mac Allister’s job shouldn’t be judged on his ‘dribbled past’ statistic given he is the most technically-gifted midfielder in the top 10 tackles list by some distance. It only becomes a serious problem if he is leaving Liverpool exposed and teams are cutting them open and, as we know, that hasn’t been the case this season as Liverpool have conceded the third-lowest goals.

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