24 December 2012

Visualized: Liverpool 4-0 Fulham

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)

As always, match data from Stats Zone and Squawka.

Unsurprisingly, Liverpool's passing totals were typical. Since beating Wigan, when Liverpool attempted "just" 418 passes (completing 353), Liverpool have attempted between 533 and 564 passes in the six matches, completing between 455 and 496. Whether losing to Villa or Spurs or beating West Ham and Southampton, Liverpool's passing totals and accuracy have remained fairly consistent, within that narrow range. The win over Wigan and draw against Everton were the only matches where Liverpool have attempted fewer than 450 passes.

One difference stood out. Compare Reina's passing against Fulham to that against Villa last week. It's a small sample size, assuredly with other variables, but when Reina has time to distribute from the back, Liverpool's results have been vastly improved. Liverpool have 4W-1D-1L when Reina completes 20 or more passes. When Reina completes fewer than 20 passes, Liverpool's record is 1W-3D-4L. Incidentally, Jones never completed more than 14 passes in the four league matches he started (three draws, one win). Reina's shot-stopping has been problematic (to say the least) this season, but his distribution remains excellent, crucial to the way Liverpool want to play.

Downing is just the fifth Liverpool player to register five chances created in a league match this season, along with Gerrard, Suarez, Sterling, and Johnson. Johnson did it against Southampton; Sterling against Reading; Gerrard against Fulham, Southampton, Swansea, Norwich, and Arsenal; and Suarez against Fulham, Newcastle, and Reading. Saturday was the first time that three Liverpool players created five or more chances in a single; while Liverpool have become known for spurning scoring opportunities, it'd be pretty amazing if Liverpool created 15 chances through three players and still somehow failed to win. All season long, we've said that as Gerrard and Suarez go, so go Liverpool. But if a third player can step up in attack – whether Downing, Sterling, or Johnson – Liverpool's odds drastically improve.

Just six of Liverpool's 23 shots came from outside the box. Against Villa, it was 14 of 29, with only one on target. Similar goes for a fair few of Liverpool's earlier disappointing draws: 12 of 23 against Newcastle (one on target), eight of 18 against Stoke (two on target), and 10 of 23 against Sunderland (one on target). Matches like the 5-2 win against Norwich, where Liverpool scored with three of its six shots from outside the box, are the rare, rare exception. Liverpool are infrequently potent, but they're usually more potent when taking shots from inside the penalty area.

In addition, Liverpool scored with its first shot on target, something that's only happened four other times this season: the 2-2 draws against City and Everton, the 5-2 win at Norwich, and the 3-2 win at West Ham. Liverpool scoring early, especially when it's the first shot on target, usually leads to decent results. As said in the match review, Liverpool have scored in the first ten minutes in just three matches this season: the 5-2 at Norwich, 5-3 at Young Boys, and the 4-0 win over Fulham. When goals come very early, goals also seem to come very often.

Saturday's match was just the second time since the start of the 2010-11 season where Liverpool scored from two corners in a single league match; the other was in the 2-0 win at Aston Villa last December. Liverpool also did it against Brighton in the FA Cup last season and Young Boys in the Europa League this season. Suarez's injury time goal was also Liverpool's first short corner goal in nearly a year, since Maxi scored on Boxing Day against Blackburn. And if that one doesn't count – as the short corner was initially cleared, only for Adam to fire a dangerous cross back in – the last short corner to lead to a goal was Ngog against Rabotnicki in September 2010. Needless to say, it's rarely a successful tactic for the Reds.

Finally, it was the first time Liverpool registered more tackles and interceptions than its opponent this season. The opposite is usually the case: Villa, West Ham, Spurs, Southampton, Swansea, Sunderland, United, Arsenal, and West Brom all had more tackles and interceptions. Liverpool had more tackles against Wigan, Reading, Newcastle, and Everton; more interceptions against Norwich, Chelsea, and City. At the same time, nine of 21 tackles and six of 19 interceptions in Fulham's half, demonstrating the effective of Liverpool pressing the opposition.

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