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), Everton (h), Fulham (a)
As always, match data from Stats Zone and Squawka.
It's dangerous to take too much away from the last match of the campaign, with little to play for and against already relegated opposition. However, pretty much every section of the above infographic confirms Liverpool's dominance. Not that that's stopped them from throwing away points earlier in the season, mind.
Still, 536 completed passes (and 607 attempted) were the most since the 5-0 win against Norwich 16 matches ago. 66.4% possession was the most since that Norwich match as well, only topped by the two fixtures against Norwich and equalling the possession totals at QPR and against Sunderland. 28 shots were the most since hitting that mark at Reading six matches ago, and was the third-highest total of the season (behind 35 against Swansea and 29 against Villa). Liverpool completed more than twice as many passes as QPR, took almost three times as many shots, monopolized the ball, and really should have won by more than a single goal.
That Liverpool won by just a single goal really was yesterday's only disappointment. Well, that and Carragher's shot cannoning off the post in the 62nd minute. But Liverpool were wasteful, Liverpool were too content to shoot from distance, and too many of Liverpool's shots were blocked by QPR defenders. Which, although it hasn't happened much over the last few months, have been recurring problems this season.
Liverpool's 14 blocked shots were a high for the season; only the two matches against Aston Villa saw Liverpool's opponents block more than 10. Redknapp's sole desire yesterday was to prevent the type of humiliation his side endured in the reverse fixture at Loftus Road, where Liverpool scored three in opening half an hour against QPR's wide-open defense. Anything QPR managed to create in Liverpool's half was a bonus, and the utter paucity of Liverpool tackles and interceptions demonstrates just how small a priority attacking was for QPR. And on the whole, Redknapp succeeded, evident in the number of blocked shots, the number of shots Liverpool took from outside the box, and the copious tackles and interceptions just outside QPR's box. Unfortunately for Redknapp and QPR, they had already been humiliated by the events over the course of the season.
Coutinho took Liverpool's first four shots, more a finisher rather than creator yesterday, while Sturridge didn't take one until the 45th minute. Compare where Sturridge received the ball yesterday to his passes received at Fulham; operating much deeper and often with his back to goal. Against Fulham, Liverpool players created four chances for Sturridge inside the penalty box, but all three of the chances created for Sturridge yesterday came from outside the box, which led to two shots off-target and one shot blocked. Yesterday, against a packed defense, was the sort of match that Suarez often thrives in, although, admittedly, we saw similar attacking struggles against West Ham and Reading before his suspension. Without him for six more fixtures, Liverpool will need to improve against these sorts of parked bus back lines. Not everyone's as bad as QPR.
At least we can't credit Liverpool's lack of goals to an offensively-lacking center midfield. The worry about the Henderson/Lucas pairing was that they'd be functional and diligent, but unable to create enough against determined defending. Henderson and Lucas did wholly monopolize the ball as expected, jointly completing 168 of 183 passes (91.8%), but they also created five chances and completed 50 of 58 passes in the attacking third (86.2%). Which are excellent signs for the pairing in the future, even if there's still the caveat that yesterday's opponents posed next to no challenge.