30 August 2009

Set Piece Goals Against

So, through four games, Liverpool's conceded seven goals. All seven have come from set plays (if we count Ashley Young's penalty). Zonal marking has been a scapegoat since Benitez came to the club, so it's worth a look at the proportion of goals Liverpool's conceded that have come from set plays over his five seasons.

Two notes before we get to the graphic.

One, yes, I'm counting penalties. It's probably not fair, but I reckon the easiest distinction is goals from open play versus goals that weren't. It also doesn't fundamentally alter the totals. Two, the stats are from my game notes (if I have game notes), or match reports from the official site, BBC, or the Grauniad (depending on who actually described the goal). I might be missing some, but I've double-checked in almost all cases. My memory's admittedly not the best.

Conclusions? Well, those numbers suggest it's the players, not the system. Liverpool was fairly consistent – and fairly good – over Benitez's first three seasons. Then the number surged in '07-08 (although Liverpool conceded far more penalties that season – six – the percentage is still the highest without spot kicks), and stayed "above average" in '08-09.

What's the difference between then and now? First and foremost, Hyypia stopped being a regular starter. He's considered one of the best defenders in Liverpool history for a reason. Second, Liverpool hasn't been helped by Carragher's aging; he still provides some amazing last-ditch tackles, but he's lost a step, especially in the air, and Hyypia was easily his best partner. Liverpool conceded less from set plays in '07-08 after Skrtel arrived, but not few enough.

Those are the only conclusions I can come to. If "zonal marking" was the problem, you'd expect Liverpool to have conceded the most in '04-05, when it was a new system. But it actually "worked" for the first three seasons, only to see the number of set piece goals rise around 2007.

The complete stats:

0-1 Graz (Tokic, corner); 0-1 United (Silvestre, from FK); 1-2 United (Silvestre, corner); 0-1 Olympiakos (Stoltidis, from FK); 0-1 Chelsea (J Cole, from FK); 0-1 Brum (Anderton, corner); 0-1 Boro (Riggott, from FK); 1-1 Villa (Solano FK); 0-1 Olympiakos (Rivaldo FK); 0-1 Charlton (Bartlett, corner); 0-1 Brum (Pandiani pen); 1-1 Chelsea LC (Gerrard OG, from FK); 0-1 Newcastle (Robert FK); 1-1 Pompey (Kamara, corner); 0-1 Arse (Pires FK); 0-1 Milan (Maldini, from FK)

0-1 CSKA Sofia (Iliev, from FK); 0-1 Chelsea (Lampard pen); 0-1 Bolton (Jaidi, from FK); 1-3 Luton (Nichols pen); 0-1 United (Ferdinand, from FK); 0-1 Chelsea (Gallas, corner); 0-1 Benfica (Luisao, from FK); 2-1 Everton (Cahill, corner)

0-1 Sheffield (Hulse, from FK); 0-1 Bolton (Speed FK); 3-1 Reading LC (Bikey, from FK); 4-3 Reading LC (Long, from FK); 0-3 Arsenal (Gallas, corner); 1-2 Galatasaray (Buruk, corner); 1-2 Arsenal LC (Baptista FK); 1-2 Newcastle (Solano pen); 0-1 United (O'Shea, from FK); 3-1 Arsenal (Gallas, corner); 0-1 Milan (Inzaghi, from FK)

1-1 Villa (Barry pen); 1-1 Chelsea (Lampard pen); 0-1 Porto (Lucho pen); 1-1 Reading LC (Convey, corner); 2-2 Reading CC (Halls, corner); 0-1 Everton (Hyppia OG, corner); 1-1 Cardiff (Purse, from FK); 0-1 Reading (Hunt pen); 0-2 Reading (Doyle, from FK); 0-1 United (Tevez, corner); 1-1 Derby (McEveley, from FK); 1-1 Wigan (Bramble, from FK); 1-1 Villa (Harewood, from FK); 1-2 Villa (Aurelio OG, from FK); 0-1 Havant (Pacquette, corner); 0-1 West Ham (Noble pen); 0-1 Boro (Tuncay, from FK); 3-1 Bolton (Cohen, corner); 0-1 Reading (Matejovsky, from FK); 0-2 United (Ronaldo, corner); 0-1 Arsenal CL (Adebayor, corner); 1-1 Arsenal (Bendtner, from FK); 0-2 Brum (Larsson FK); 2-1 Chelsea CL (Lampard pen)

1-1 Crewe LC (O'Connor, corner); 0-2 City (Garrido FK); 1-1 Spurs (Carra OG, corner); 3-1 Blackburn (Santa Cruz, corner); 0-1 PSV (Lazovic, corner); 0-1 Hull (McShane, corner); 2-1 Newcastle (Edgar, corner); 1-1 Everton (Cahill, from FK); 0-1 Everton FA (Lescott, corner); 1-1 Wigan (Mido pen); 1-2 Pompey (Hreidarsson, from FK); 0-1 Boro (Alonso OG, corner); 0-1 United (Ronaldo pen); 1-1 Chelsea CL (Ivanovic, corner); 2-1 Chelsea CL (Ivanovic, corner); 2-2 Chelsea CL2 (Alex FK)


nate said...

One addendum.

Without penalties, the percentages are as follows:

04-05 = 27%
05-06 = 16%
06-07 = 19%
07-08 = 35%
08-09 = 30%

Rick said...

Great graphs! Thanks for making them.

Todd said...

Man, I so like this blog! You are my favorite blog. Easily! (but I've started reading "left Coast Reds" (admittedly I have a vested interest as we just started a LFC fan club in Seattle). But I think your descriptions of the games are so accurate and so fair. And you make me laugh a lot with your wit. Keep it up. We're building a website www.lfcseattle.com and the first site i wanted to link to was yours.

Cheers from Seattle!

Todd said...

its not Tony, its Todd..no idea how that got there! trying to work that one out!

Todd said...

Ok got that fixed. If you have a problem with my linking to your site please let me know.

chris said...

i have been a regular reader of your blog. and this last blog amongst many others shows why.

wish Kyrgiakos is half as good as sami.

actually if only any defensive player for liverpool is half as good as sami...

nate said...

no worries, todd. let me know when the site's active, and i'll be happy to link you in return.

and thank you for the excellent idea, rick, and the compliments all.

shaun loh said...

brillant stuff.

Have u thought of doing a comparison with a top team that uses Man-to-Man Marking against set pieces?

vinnie said...

just an input of idea. technically speaking, you're point is spot on but we are gauging the effectiveness of zonal marking in set pieces but you can't defend a penalty, can you? so i guess it's only fair to take that out of the equation, unless the penalty was conceded from a set piece, that's just as good as conceding a goal from set piece.

whichever way you do, i still believe in your analysis. as i've seen a couple of bad positioning by carragher, our best CB

on a side note, either torres is getting too lazy to work for his goals or he's getting weaker and weaker physically. he falls far too easily! i still remember how he would stay up and work his way out even when he was shoved or hacked by opponents to produce some magic. it's impossible that his physically strength has gotten so bad after two seasons in english football. yes, he's a target for bad tackles but he used to keep his cool so well