02 January 2014

Visualized: Liverpool 2-0 Hull

Previous Match Infographics: Chelsea (a), Manchester City (a), Cardiff (h), Tottenham (a), West Ham (h), Norwich (h), Hull City (a), Everton (a), Fulham (h), Arsenal (a), West Brom (h), Newcastle (a), Crystal Palace (h), Sunderland (a), Southampton (h), Swansea (a), Manchester United (h), Aston Villa (a), Stoke (h)

As always, match data from Stats Zone and Squawka.

Yesterday's two goals were Liverpool's 14th and 15th from set plays this season. That's more than Liverpool scored in each of the previous four campaigns. The team scored 11 in 2012-13, 14 in 2011-12, 11 in 2010-11, and 14 in 2009-10, which is as far back as WhoScored's stats go. 32.6% of all of Liverpool's goals have come from set plays, and it's been a fairly healthy mix of set plays: four direct free kicks (three from Suarez, one from Gerrard), five indirect free kicks (scored by Suarez, Sturridge, Sakho, and Skrtel, as well as one own goal), and six corners (two by Sturridge, one from Skrtel, Coutinho, Suarez, and Agger; four taken by Gerrard, two by Coutinho).

Yesterday saw the fewest tackles and second-fewest interceptions Liverpool have made since I started doing these graphics at the beginning of last season. Only this season's 2-2 draw at Swansea had fewer interceptions. Liverpool simply weren't required to made last-ditch challenges (really, any challenges) or block off dangerous passes because of Hull's almost complete lack of threat. And Liverpool simply didn't have the legs to press in Hull's half, which helps explain why Liverpool didn't register a single tackle in the opposition half for the first time this season. The easing of the fixture list cannot come soon enough.

But Hull also had problems making both tackles and interceptions. Compare last month's defensive actions to yesterday's. Hull made 25 tackles and 25 interceptions at the KC Stadium, the vast majority just outside their own defensive third, which went a long way in preventing Liverpool from entering the danger zone. That brick wall was slightly less sturdy yesterday.

Still, Hull did defend well, as Hull has done almost all season, denying Liverpool an open play goal for the second consecutive meeting. Their complete inability in attack was far more damaging to yesterday's efforts.

As mentioned in the match review, Hull had zero shots on target yesterday. Zero. It's the second time this season that Liverpool's opponent failed to test Mignolet with even a single effort, after the 5-0 throttling Tottenham endured a few weeks ago. And it's not as if those were isolated incidents. Palace put just two on target, Fulham and West Ham just one. Liverpool have allowed 13.1 shotes per match this season, which is tied for 11th best in the league – but only 4.15 on-target per match, an accuracy of just 31.7%. Yes, Liverpool are still allowing too many shots – seriously, I watched yesterday's match, and I'm still not sure how Hull even managed 10 efforts – but for the most part, they're less threatening shots, restricted to less likely scoring positions. As Hull's were yesterday. None of Hull's shots came from "prime positions" – the middle of the penalty area – and only three of Hull's 10 came from inside the box: two were blocked, and one, from the far right corner of the area, was ballooned well off-target.

But it's not as if Liverpool's were at their most prolific either. Just six of Liverpool's 17 shots were on-target, which isn't far below Liverpool's season-long average of 41% shot accuracy. Of those six on target, two were goals, two were speculative at best from Coutinho and easily saved, and two were narrow angle blasts from Sterling and Coutinho straight at McGregor.

Going into this match, Liverpool had averaged 57.1% of its shots from inside the opponents' penalty area. Only 35.2% came inside the box yesterday. And it is something about Hull; four of Liverpool's nine shots in the reverse fixture were inside the box, and only one from the middle of the box. For just the fourth match this season – along with Southampton (h), West Brom (h), and City (a) – Liverpool weren't allowed any shots from inside the six yard box.

Coutinho epitomized Liverpool's difficulties, both in getting good shots and in hitting the target. Seven shots: three on-target, four off-target, five from outside the box. Which is actually one of his better shooting performances since returning from his most recent injury eight matches ago (seven starts, one substitute appearance).

He's taken 34 shots since coming on in the 66th minute at Hull. Just seven were on-target, an accuracy of just 20.6%. 16 were off-target, 11 were blocked. More infuriating was that only 14 came from inside the box. 21 were outside the box: three on-target (14.3%), 12 off-target (57.1%), and six blocked (28.6%). And only six of those 14 shots inside the box came from "prime positions," either the middle of the 18-yard box or the six-yard box. Well, just the middle of the 18-yard box because none came from inside the six-yard box. Two on-target, three off-target (two of which he should have scored from, including yesterday's chance on the stroke of halftime), and one blocked.

Better, but barely. No, Phil. Just no.

Unsurprisingly, his best display came against Manchester City, the match where he scored. City's tight defense allowed Coutinho just three shots, but two were inside the box and one from just outside. The two shots inside the box were on-target, the one from outside the box narrowly wide. Sometimes, less is more, Pippen.


Anonymous said...

Did one of the announcers mention yesterday that Liverpool have 23 more points in the league in 2013 over 2012 and played 2 less matches? Pretty impressive if that's true.

I was trying to look it up on the web, couldn't find it, but came across these "statto" stats. After 20 matches:

Attack - We rank 2nd overall averaging 2.3 goals per game, 2nd at home with 2.7 GPG and 3rd away with 1.9 GPG.

Defense (with the s) - We rank 4th overall with 1.15 goals conceded per game, 1st at home with .6 GCPG and 14th away with 1.7 GCPG.

Obviously, the one area we need to improve is away defense and continue our stellar scoring form both at home and away.

One stat I found interesting from yesterday was that Hull's passing in the final 3rd was 58/113, 52%. We also had 44 clearances and won 26 out of 35 aerial duels. We may not have had many tackles or interceptions, but anything Hull played into or near our box was played right back out. Back at you boys. How you liking it Stevie Bruce? If you look at the passing chart, Hull had very little dangerous possession near our box. What very little they did have was on our left after Brucie made his 3 subs. Still was not much to speak of.

My word. Phil's shot chart is one sad sad sad picture. I can't stop laughing. Hello Phil. This is a soccer ball. It's round, has 32 panels and is about 9 inches in diameter. Here's a tip. The ball goes wherever you point that left toe. Was good to see that he could pass it 7 yards into an open net at City. (This is ALL joking, by the way. I want Phil to start scoring regularly and keep shooting).

He's gotten much better the last few games. From my perspective he's one minor adjustment from scorching the back of the net. Should have 2 goals in 2 games. If he did, no one would be making jokes or pulling up his shot chart. We need him scoring whether he plays on the wing or as a #10. He's got the skills to be a regular scorer for us. I'm sure Rodgers will continue to encourage him to shoot regardless of that sad shot chart. In my little mind he should be good for a goal every 3 games or so. He'll bring the goods the next few games. Stoke away, Villa and Everton home and Brom away. I'm tipping him for 2 goals. Heard it here!

We need to get Hendo and Joe Allen scoring too. Hendo should have had that one yesterday and Joe Allen needs to develop confidence in front of goal and in his shooting abilities in general. Joe gets into good positions and gets good opportunities and has to start burying them with regularity. Needs to adjust his feet fast to get in the proper position to rip it and to pick his spot better. Come on Joe. You got the skills to be able to bang a few in too.

Anonymous said...

Hull took 10 shots. 6 were blocked. 3 of the remaining 4 were outside the box, 25 to 30 yards from goal. The 1 shot inside the area was at the far right corner , at a bad angle, probably about 25 yards from goal. 90 minutes, they did not get even a single sniff at goal.

Not even from set pieces.

To put this into some perspective. In 2011/2012 Garetth Bale, playing almost exclusively on the wing, took 70 shots from outside the box in 36 starts and scored once. Outside the box shots are very low % in the Prem.