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As always, match data from Stats Zone and Squawka.
Liverpool have completed more than 475 passes just two other times since completing 627 in the 5-0 win against Norwich on January 19 (Sturridge's first league start): 480 in the 5-0 against Swansea and 491 in the 0-0 against West Ham. Yesterday also saw Liverpool's highest passing average since that match against Norwich, completing 87.7% of their passes at Fulham.
In the 22 matches before Sturridge's first league start, Liverpool averaged 527 attempted passes and 449 completed passes per match, for an 85.2% success rate. In the 15 matches since, that average has dropped to 506 attempted passes, 416 completed, and a success rate of 82.2%. And in the 11 matches since Coutinho's first league start, it's an average of 499 attempted passes, 406 completed passes, and an 81.4% success rate. Liverpool have become a more direct side as the season's gone on, pushed further along that path by the two massively influential January signings.
Incidentally, Liverpool's goals per game average over the first 22 matches was 1.59, averaging 1.41 points per game. In the last 15, it's 2.33 goals per game and 1.8 points per game. Liverpool are often a better side when they're a more direct side. It's probably not coincidence that none of Liverpool's three goals yesterday featured more than two passes. Both of Liverpool's assists came from long passes inside its own half, from Wisdom and Coutinho, while the second goal started with a Johnson long ball from Liverpool's half which Coutinho picked up after Hangeland won the aerial duel.
Liverpool attempted and completed a similar number of passes in the first and second halves, but the type and position of the attacking third passes helps demonstrate the difference in style brought about by the change from 3-6-1 to the more familiar 4-2-3-1. Liverpool weren't restricted to the flanks like they were in the first half, completing more passes in the middle of the pitch and penalty box, creating five chances in the first half and nine in the second. The difference in the quality of those chances is also evident from where the shots took place; not only did Liverpool take more than twice as many shots, but they took them closer to goal, where there's often a better chance of scoring.
The change in formation also brought Sturridge into the match. Despite his excellently taken opening goal, he struggled to get on the ball in the first half, but was much more influential in the second, evident in both passes attempted and passes received.
Of course, it shouldn't be surprising that Liverpool, as well as individual players, played better and looked more comfortable in the more familiar system.