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.