14 November 2011

Good Against Good, Bad Against Bad

With Liverpool facing Chelsea in a week's time, I thought it interesting to look at the club's recent record against the best and worst of the Premier League. Long story short, Liverpool have a habit of playing up or down to the opposition's level under Dalglish.

Against top-five opponents:

• 1-0 Chelsea (a)
• 3-1 United (h)
• 3-0 City (h)
• 1-1 Arsenal (a)
• 0-2 Tottenham (h)
• 2-0 Arsenal (a)
• 0-4 Tottenham (a)
• 1-1 United (h)

Overall record: 4W-2D-2L
Points per game: 1.75

That points per game average is in line with Liverpool's overall record under Dalglish. The club's taken 52 points from the last 29 league matches, for an average of 1.79 points per game.

Comparatively, Liverpool's record against promoted or relegated sides under Dalglish:

• 1-2 Blackpool (a)
• 1-3 West Ham (a)
• 1-2 West Brom (a)
• 5-0 Birmingham (h)
• 3-0 Newcastle (h)
• 1-1 Norwich (h)
• 0-0 Swansea (h)

Overall record: 2W-2D-3L
Points per game: 1.14

Last season, Liverpool's record against relegated or promoted sides was contingent upon location: winning handily against Birmingham and Newcastle at Anfield but losing to Blackpool, West Ham, and West Brom on the road – continuing the despicable away form from the Hodgson era. This season, Liverpool's faced two promoted sides at Anfield and suffered disappointing draws in both, an obvious regression in results if not in form, mainly down to the much-discussed inability to convert chances.

The venue has been less important against the "big five;" in 2010-11, Liverpool beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and drew Arsenal at the Emirates, while losing to Spurs at Anfield. This season, Liverpool beat Arsenal in London, were hammered at Tottenham after Adam was sent off, and drew United at Anfield.

Unsurprisingly, playing to the opposition's level didn't occur as often under Hodgson. As happened time and time again, Liverpool did "okay" at home and were atrocious away, no matter the opposition. Hodgson's Liverpool beat Chelsea and drew Arsenal at Anfield, and lost to City, United, and Spurs away, for a grand total of four points from five games. Against relegated or promoted opposition, Liverpool beat West Brom and West Ham at Anfield, and held Birmingham and lost to Newcastle away; Blackpool's October victory at Anfield was the only match which didn't hold to the usual trends under Hodgson. Except the trend of being infuriatingly, hopelessly awful.

With two trips to Chelsea bracketed by a home match against high-flying Manchester City, we'll soon see if Liverpool continues playing to the opposition's level. Not to over-exaggerate, but with the season nearly a third over, these next three results could define the next six months, seeing Liverpool either catch up to the front runners or pushed further back into the chasing pack.


Anonymous said...

This is a great site - thanks Nate

One comment on this - on TTT, there's an argument that we play 4-4-2 against bad and 4-1-3-2 against good sides

In your view, are we seeing the relative merits of these systems, or something else?

nate said...

Cheers, thanks for the kind words.

This season, that's basically true, although I'd argue it was more 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 than 4-1-3-2 against Arsenal, Spurs, and United. Last season there was a greater variety of formations against the big clubs: 3-5-1-1 against Chelsea, 4-4-1-1 against United, and 4-2-2-2 against Arsenal, City, and Spurs.

Similar goes for games against the 'bad' teams. A variety last season: 3-5-2 in West Ham loss, 4-3-3 in Blackpool loss, 4-2-2-2 in WBA loss and Newcastle win, 4-4-2 diamond in Birmingham romp. But yeah, 4-2-2-2 against both Norwich and Swansea this season.

Yeah, I'd rather see the 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 more often, although I'm mostly willing to give this new 4-2-2-2/4-4-2 more time to gel. And I reckon we will against Chelsea.

Anonymous said...

Ah, damn the facts!

Keep going on the blog - required reading

And I'm Matt- roy of the rovers on RAWK...

nate said...

oh, hey, I've seen you link a few pieces you liked in relevant RAWK threads in the past. I appreciate that very much. Thanks, Matt.

Jay Wright said...

If we play 442 against Chelsea and City's 3 man central midfields then we'll most likely be in line for a repeat of the 3-0 defeat when we made the same mistake against City last year.

Until we get a more physically dominant central midfield pairing we should stick with 3 in there every game.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome

Not well known this blog - suspect that you'd get a fair amount of interest if you were better known

And I'll always highlight cogent analysis if I can