12 December 2011

Infographic – Goals Through 15 Games

Goals, goals, goals. With Liverpool wasting chance after chance, profligacy to blame for home draws with Norwich, Swansea, and Sunderland as well as away losses to Stoke and Fulham, the number of goals scored has become both millstone and mantra, a clear problem in obvious need of fixing, the major fault keeping the side from reaching its full potential.

But how does this season compare to Liverpool's goal tally in previous campaigns?

18 goals through 15 games is the third-lowest total since 2004-05, behind last season's abomination (by just one) and the 2006-07 campaign. But the most goals scored through 15 games came in 2009-10, where Liverpool had 31 by this point yet finished in 7th, the worst result from these seven seasons. Which makes for poor precedent.

So, is there any correlation with goals and league position?

The best correlation isn't between goals scored and overall points total, it's goals conceded and overall points total. Those two lists are in almost the exact same order. Which would be good news for this season if correlation always implied causation; the 13 conceded through 15 games is fourth-best since Benitez took over. And that includes the four-goal drubbing Spurs gave 10-man Liverpool in September, almost a third of the total goals conceded and the only time the team's let in more than one per match this season.

Four from seven clearly isn't the most-authoritative sample size, but since 2004-05, Liverpool have never finished worse than fourth when conceding less than a goal per game through 15 matches. Writing as much seems unnecessary, but fourth place is both target and bare minimum this season.

Nonetheless, obviously, scoring more goals certainly couldn't hurt.


Vercingetora said...

For 2008-09, if you multiply those figures out for the rest of the season (by a factor of 2.5), you'd expect 53 goals for and 20 against. In fact, we finished with 77 goals for and 26 against. Perhaps after a series of draws against inferior opponents Rafa unleashed the hounds? I'd be interested to see if your analysis stands pat after comparing rankings after 15 games. Thought provoking article as always though.

nate said...

It wasn't draws against inferior opponents; while 0-0 Villa, 0-0 Stoke, and 0-0 Fulham happened prior to December, Liverpool were top of league after 15 games (and through the New Year) in 2008-09. It was hitting superlative form in spring (after a rough patch in January-February) which extended the goals tally, as Liverpool scored 4 against United, Blackburn, and Arsenal, 5 against Villa, and averaged more than 3 goals per game over the final 10 games. As I wrote back then, selling Keane and having Torres, Gerrard, and Agger back healthy were just as important as Rafa releasing the reins.

Comparing totals after 15 games to final totals is something I should have thought of, though, and will try to look into later today.

vinnie said...

Albeit the lack of goals, we've been playing attacking football and keeping a pretty solid defence at the same time. Personally, I prefer to focus on defence when building a team. There's nothing saps everyone's confidence more than conceding an easy goal after working so hard to score one (2009/10).

I always strongly believe in Dalglish for the long run but do question some of his decision in the few matches before Mancashter City at Anfield. Looking back at the progress, I felt like I've sinned for doubted him. The goals and result will come, what's more important is everyone's on the same page

Based on my interpretation and your stats, Nate, I'm seeing the golden sky and hearing the sweet silver song of the lark.