Previous Match Infographics: Manchester City (h), Arsenal (h), Manchester United (h), Norwich (a), Stoke (h), Reading (h), Everton (a), Newcastle (h), Chelsea (a), Wigan (h), Swansea (a), Tottenham (a), Southampton (h), West Ham (a), Aston Villa (h), Fulham (h), Stoke (a), QPR (a), Sunderland (h), Manchester United (a), Norwich (h), Arsenal (a), Manchester City (a), West Brom (h), Swansea (h), Wigan (a), Tottenham (h), Southampton (a), Aston Villa (a)
As always, match data from Stats Zone and Squawka.
Looks a bit like this, yeah?
I'm sure that's not the first time Allardyce's West Ham have been compared to Pulis' Stoke, and it probably won't be the last.
West Ham took a few more shots than Stoke in its 0-0 draw at Anfield, with the Potters almost wholly reliant on set plays to threaten. At the same time, Liverpool were even less able to put its shots on target in November's 0-0 draw; at least they tested Jaaskelainen yesterday, forcing seven saves and one goal-line clearance from Tomkins. Otherwise, there are more than a few similarities between the two matches.
Mainly, the passing and possession dominance without reward and the overuse of shots from outside the box because an inability to break through a deep and determined defense. Liverpool were similarly wasteful in the final third, 69% accuracy against West Ham and 68% against Stoke.
Liverpool created 15 chances against West Ham, slightly better than its 14 per game average and the 12 created in the home draw with Stoke, but only one was a clear-cut chance.
Aside from Downing, who only featured for 25 minutes, Luis Suarez had the lowest pass accuracy of Liverpool's outfield starters, below his season-long 77% pass accuracy. His shots tally was also slightly subpar, taking five (just two on target), compared to a season average of 5.6. He lost possession 32 times, tied for his high in a single match in the last two seasons. But he also had one of Liverpool's best chances, Jaaskelainen's 27th-minute save after a clever exchange with Coutinho. And, as we've learned before, Liverpool can't rely on Suarez every week, no matter this season's blistering form. I'm still baffled why Suarez remained the lone central striker all match long with Sturridge mainly relegated to the flank as a like-for-like replacement for Downing.
Also like Stoke, West Ham were reliant on long balls and crosses in attack. Which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Liverpool's most frequent pass combination was Lucas to Gerrard; West Ham's was Jaaskelainen to Carlton Cole. 17% of West Ham's passes were long passes compared to 8% for Liverpool. Half of West Brom's chances created – five of ten – came from crosses; overall, West Ham completed six of 15 crosses (compared to Liverpool's two of 21). In defense of Liverpool's defense, they've struggled when Stoke (away) and Aston Villa (home) played in a similar manner, and all those successful crosses led to just one outstanding chance, one shot on target. But it was a chance that West Ham will regret not taking.
Yesterday's statistics also bear a few similarities to Liverpool's 0-2 loss to West Brom. Except in one crucial regard: Liverpool didn't give up a goal – or, subsequently, a second – in the final ten minutes when the opposition attacked. They certainly had the opportunity; if not for Lucas's 86th-minute goal-line clearance, we're ruing yet another undeserved loss rather than just a frustrating draw.
On the whole, Liverpool have smashed weaker teams more often than in better seasons, and vastly more than the last two or three. Norwich home and away, Wigan home and away, QPR away, Sunderland home, Fulham home, Swansea home. That's eight league matches which Liverpool have won by three or more goals. They did that just four times last season: at Wolves, against Everton, at Norwich, and against Chelsea. It took until the penultimate match to score four in a league contest, beating a weakened Chelsea which had just won the FA Cup and were focused on the Champions League final. At this point last season, Liverpool had four 0-0 draws in the league. And six fewer points.
Days like yesterday happen, to every side in every season, and are especially possible when Suarez is off-color. Unfortunately, because of what's gone on earlier in the season, days like yesterday also feel much worse than they should.