Previous Match Infographics: Tottenham (h), Sunderland (h), Cardiff (a), Manchester United (a), Southampton (a), Swansea (h), Fulham (a), Arsenal (h), West Brom (a), Everton (h), Aston Villa (h), Stoke (a), Hull (h), 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.
Liverpool have now won 12 penalties this campaign, converting ten of them. This is the most that Liverpool have won in a Premier League season; the previous high was 10 in 2003-04 and 1992-93. Historically, it's usually somewhere between four and seven league penalties a season. Manchester City and Chelsea are tied for second-most penalties this season; they've each earned seven.
The last side to win 12 penalties in a season? Chelsea in 2009-10. Who set the record for goals scored in a Premier League season. And won the league.
Luis Suarez has earned five of those 12 penalties (as well as Liverpool's one penalty in the FA Cup): two via handball, two via mistimed tackles by the defender, and one when taken out by a goalkeeper. Sterling's earned three, Sturridge two, Allen and Flanagan one each.
It shouldn't be surprising that Liverpool have won so many spot kicks when they've the capacity to score at will, and with fast, clever players such as Suarez, Sterling, and Sturridge. But 12 is still a surprisingly large amount of penalties. And we can easily come up with more than should have been given: at City, at Chelsea, at United just to name three.
It took chutzpah to take off Philippe Coutinho at halftime. He'd created three chances of Liverpool's five first half chances, looked the player most likely to find the pass that finally broke West Ham's defense. It was not the obvious change if Rodgers was looking to make changes. No matter. Liverpool's midfield wasn't working, Liverpool weren't in control, West Ham were threatening too often, and Rodgers wasn't having it. So on came Lucas.
From there, Liverpool played and completed more passes, had much more possession, took more shots, created more and better chances. In addition, Andy Carroll was rendered mostly moot and mute.
Obviously, Lucas wasn't solely responsible for Liverpool's improvement or Carroll's nullification. But the switch to a diamond midfield with a stronger defender as one of the wider midfielders did negate West Ham's primary attacking strategy to a large extent. And, to the shock of pretty much all involved, it was Lucas' throughball which earned the winning penalty. Rodgers has increasingly been praised for his willingness to tinker, often in the starting formation and personnel. Now we're seeing those adjustments during the match as well.
Once again, Liverpool did an excellent job limiting the opposition to shots from less dangerous positions, with only four of 11 shots coming inside the box. One of those four – the goal – obviously shouldn't have stood. Another, from Nolan, was as much an attempted flick-on as a shot, and didn't go anywhere near Mignolet. Credit for that is team-wide, defending well in both midfield and defense, but special mention goes to Skrtel and Sakho, combining for 21 clearances and winning eight of 17 aerial duels against a difficult opponent. Skrtel's renaissance has been remarkable, but Sakho's efforts were even more impressive given that he hadn't started a match since December 29.
However, three of those four shots came from set piece situations, the fourth – Carroll's header off the bar – from Diame's right-flank cross. It's worth reiterating a stat from yesterday's match review: Demel's goal was the 12th set play goal Liverpool have conceded this season (not counting penalties, which would bring the total up to 15). Only Fulham, Stoke, Sunderland, and West Brom have conceded more. Granted, it's vastly improved in recent weeks – Liverpool conceded nine in the first half of the season, but just three since the New Year – but it's still enough to worry at times.
Liverpool have also scored the most set play goals in the league this season. Second-most? Next week's opponent: Manchester City.