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), West Ham (h), Reading (a), Chelsea (h), Newcastle (a)
As always, match data from Stats Zone and Squawka.
At least it's mostly an improvement on the reverse fixture. Well, in everything but the result, which was depressingly similar. And goals scored, too.
From Liverpool's second-best shooting accuracy of the season last week to the fourth-worst of the season this week: three on target from 15 shots, 20%. Which is Liverpool's lowest accuracy since putting only two of 18 shots on target against Stoke in early October, another 0-0 draw, the seventh match of the campaign. So much for this theory.
Liverpool put three or fewer shots on target in six other matches this season. At West Brom, against City, against Stoke, at Everton, at Chelsea, and at United. It's probably not coincidence that it happened in both matches against Everton, to the credit of Moyes' side and its tactics.
Liverpool's second half improvement, while not enough, can be summed up by its improvement in the attacking third. From 53.7% the first half to 76.0% in the second half, completing more in the second half than Liverpool attempted in the first half. Four chances created in the first half, three outside the box, to six in the second half, with four inside the box. Of course, it still wasn't enough.
Compare Lucas and Downing's passing yesterday to that of last week. Both completed around 50% fewer passes. Downing was Liverpool's top chance creator last week, but failed to create a single opportunity yesterday. Lucas is Liverpool's metronome, the calm base of its attacks, but spent vastly less time on the ball. Downing is an underrated link in Liverpool's attack; it's no coincidence that the attack's improved as he's found form, even though the additions of Sturridge and Coutinho have been more eye-catching and arguably more important. Liverpool desperately missed what both can provide yesterday, with Lucas pressured by Fellaini and Downing bottled up by Baines.
Again, credit where due. Everton knew how to stop Liverpool, something they failed to do in all three matches last season. The away side made a lot of interceptions in the middle of the pitch and even more tackles on the flanks, blunting both attempts at a Liverpool supply line.
But Liverpool also knew how to stop Everton, easily dealing with the majority of Everton's free kick chances and cutting out crosses from both open play and corners. Both of Everton's goals in the reverse fixture came from these situations: first, a shot from distance on a corner that Liverpool failed to clear, then a tap-in from a cross after Everton diced through Liverpool's right flank. And while Fellaini won the majority of his aerial duels, Liverpool tracked the second ball well, making sure that Fellaini had few chances to pass to Anichebe or Mirallas, while most of his passes to Pienaar came well away from the penalty box.