Previous Match Infographics: Basel (h), Sunderland (h), Leicester (a), Stoke (h), Ludogorets (a), Crystal Palace (a), Chelsea (h), Real Madrid (a), Newcastle (a), Hull (h), Real Madrid (h), QPR (a), West Brom (h), Basel (a), Everton (h), West Ham (a), Ludogorets (h), Aston Villa (h), Tottenham (a), Manchester City (a), Southampton (h)
As always, match data from Stats Zone, except shot location from Squawka and average player position from ESPN FC.
There won't be many matches where Liverpool put at least 47% of its shots on-target and fails to score. That's happened just twice before under Rodgers: at Newcastle this season, with three of six shots on target, and against Southampton last season, with five of ten on target. Liverpool lost both matches 0-1. Liverpool took 19 shots yesterday, nearly double the output against Southampton last season and more than triple the output at Newcastle this season.
Prior to yesterday's match, Liverpool have had a shooting accuracy better than 45% in 17 of the 91 league games under Rodgers. They've scored 51 goals in those 17 matches, an average of three goals per game.
And eight of those nine shots on-target came inside United's penalty box. It's not as if Liverpool just let fly from distance and all De Gea had to do was scoop the ball up. Expected Goals certainly aren't the be-all, end-all, but Liverpool's ExpG tally yesterday was 3.1 (via Michael Caley), by far the high for the season.
There won't be many matches where Liverpool take at least nine shots in the Danger Zone (six-yard box + center of the 18-yard box) and fail to score. That hasn't happened since the start of last season (I don't have shot location data for 2012-13). Liverpool took at least nine Danger Zone shots in 10 of 38 league matches last season, scoring an average of 3.8 goals per game in those matches.
Yesterday was the first time this season that Liverpool took at least nine shots in the Danger Zone. The previous high was eight at Tottenham, where Liverpool scored three goals.
Despite failing to score, yesterday certainly was progress in an attacking sense. And it's probably not coincidence that output occurred, at least for the most part, with two players up front. Balotelli needs a strike partner to be effective, Sterling needs a strike partner to be effective. If Liverpool can replicate that performance in attack, they'll probably win more matches than they lose, as long as they're not facing David De Gea.
However, if Liverpool continue to defend like this (seriously, stop what you're doing and go read this from Mike Goodman, because I can't break down Liverpool's struggles in defense any better), they're going to lose a lot more matches than they win.
Liverpool put nine of 19 shots on target, but United put six of 11 on target (54.5%), and scored from three of those six *glares at Brad Jones*.
Liverpool's inability to find a balance between defense and attack has been a major narrative throughout Rodgers' tenure, in all three seasons, whether playing three at the back or 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 diamond. The problems often start with Gerrard as a defensive midfielder, whether at the base of a diamond or 4-3-3, whether partnered with another in a 4-2-3-1, or in yesterday's 3-4-3, but there are multiple other issues: the positioning of the center-backs, the fullbacks' inability to get back, poor goalkeeping, constant random errors (like Lovren's failed interception setting up United's third, among many other examples), etc. And that's not even taking into account Liverpool's recurring issues when defending set plays.
We're nearly halfway through the campaign, and Rodgers has tried nearly every formation under the sun, and the repeated issues are still repeating.
That bodes exceptionally poorly for both the rest of the season and Rodgers' Liverpool tenure.