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), Fulham (h), Stoke (a), QPR (a), Sunderland (h), Manchester United (a), Norwich (h), Arsenal (a), Manchester City (a), West Brom (h)
As always, match data from Stats Zone and Squawka.
There's a stark difference between this graphic and that from the reverse fixture. Liverpool's totals aren't incredibly dissimilar – except, obviously, the shot total – but Swansea's sure are. More than 60 fewer passes attempted and completed, and much less possession. Five fewer interceptions and 15 fewer successful tackles. 15 fewer shots – Michu and Williams were responsible for eight of those – and 11 fewer chances created. Pablo Hernandez took four shots and created four chances at the Liberty Stadium, but didn't tally any yesterday – demonstrating just how well Liverpool severed the supply line. If more teams would like to make wholesale changes when facing Liverpool, I wouldn't be opposed.
Also, unsurprisingly, there are a few things to say about that Liverpool shot total.
Going into this match, Liverpool's conversion rate was 11.4 shots per goal. Which is lower than five of the six teams above them in the table (and slightly better than Everton's). They took 17 before finally scoring through Gerrard's penalty in the 34th minute. But from there, Liverpool needed just 16 shots to score four more, from four different goal-scorers. Which is a near-perfect example of just how excellent and just how inconsistent Liverpool's finishing can be.
Prior to yesterday's match, Liverpool had been averaging 19.3 shots per match. Which is the highest total in the league. In fact, Liverpool's 22 first-half shots were more than the side registered in 16 matches, including both previous five-goal performances against Norwich. Liverpool's previous high for shots was 29, in the 1-3 loss to Villa and 3-0 win over Sunderland.
No side in Europe has bettered Liverpool's shot total in a league match this season. Tottenham's 3-1 mauling of Reading on New Year's Day, where they tallied 34 shots, was the previous Premier League high; Roma's 31 against Cagliari was the high for Serie A, La Liga, the Bundesliga, or Ligue 1. Liverpool averaged a shot every 2 minutes and 3 seconds in the first half; only tallying 13 in the second half raises that average to just over 2 and a half minutes for the match.
10 of Liverpool's 16 shots prior to scoring were from outside the box, with only two – Lucas and Suarez's tame efforts – on target. Just six of the subsequent 19 came from outside the box, including only three in the second half. Incidentally, none of Liverpool's five goals came from outside the box. Now seems a good time to remind that Liverpool have scored only nine of its 49 league goals (18%) from outside the box: five against Norwich, three against City, and one against West Ham. Those shots are often the result of a desperate side, which Liverpool were early on when trying to expunge the memories of West Brom and Zenit. But Liverpool stopped being a desperate side once the first, and more importantly the second, goal went in.
Combined, Suarez and Sturridge took 14 shots and created 12 chances. Each scored once and tallied one assist. That's more shots than 12 teams average per match, more chances created than all except Liverpool, Everton, City, and Spurs average per match. Suarez's eight chances created were a high for a Liverpool player this season – and, as written yesterday, that's after not creating a single chance in his first three league games against Swansea – while Sturridge's eight shots were the second-most for a Liverpool player in a single match, with Suarez taking 10 against Reading (without scoring).
The difference between how Coutinho and Henderson played on the left is interesting, especially demonstrated by the heat maps. Coutinho played far closer to Swansea's goal, and provided much more threat than Henderson did in Liverpool's previous league match. To be fair, Henderson was far better against Norwich – where, unlike against West Brom, Sturridge was in the lineup – than he was against Albion. That was the match where Henderson truly did play as both a left-winger and third central midfielder, reflected in both the heat map and his vastly higher passing total (55 of 62, compared to 18/23 for Coutinho yesterday). Coutinho stayed wider on the left, helping stretch the defense, but also took five shots – more than Henderson against Norwich, Manchester City, and Norwich combined. There will assuredly be sides where Liverpool will need to be more cautious, more balanced on the flanks – as Henderson was against Norwich and City – while the loss to Oldham demonstrates what can happen when Liverpool are "too attacking." Nonetheless, Coutinho showed yesterday how he can provide a different, often needed option.
Finally, despite Swansea's lack of threat – or, contributing to that lack of threat – Liverpool pressed well, with 50% of the successful tackles and 39% of the interceptions in Swansea's half of the pitch.