22 December 2014

Visualized: Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

Previous Match Infographics: Manchester United (a), 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.

It's a very small sample size, but there has been a noticeable difference in Liverpool's attacking output since the switch to 3-4-2-1.

I'm using the match at Villa as the beginning of the comparison, as that was Liverpool's first match without Sturridge.

Unfortunately, that improvement in attacking output hasn't translated into goals. Liverpool averaged slightly more than a goal per game between in the 12 matches between Villa (h) and Sunderland (h); Liverpool's averaging a goal per game in the last two matches, with two against Arsenal and none against United.

But, yes, there has been a vast improvement in the underlying shot statistics. Not only in total output, but location. In that earlier 12-match stretch, 50% of Liverpool's shots came inside the box, 28.4% in the Danger Zone (six-yard box and center of the 18-yard box). In the last two matches, it's 54.3% in the box and 43.5% in the Danger Zone. You'd have to believe that the goals will come if Liverpool can continue this output.

But then there are matters at the other end of the pitch.

Liverpool are allowing fewer shots, but more are on-target. And there are a lot more goals. In those 12 earlier matches, Liverpool's opponents averaged 9.33 shots per goal. In the last two matches, it's 3.6 shots per goal.

That's bad. That's very, very bad. United and Arsenal are better in attack that almost every opponent Liverpool faced during that 12-match stretch except for Chelsea, but that's still a damning indictment of both Liverpool and Brad Jones.

In Jones' defense, Liverpool are allowing those shots in more dangerous positions. During that 12-match stretch, 50.7% of the opposition's shots came inside the box, 31.4% in the Danger Zone. In the last two matches, it's 61.1% in both the 18-yard box and the Danger Zone; every single shot that United and Arsenal took inside the penalty box came in the Danger Zone. That's a recipe for disaster. Liverpool are not helping Brad Jones, but Jones also isn't helping himself.

Liverpool's 32 successful tackles were the most this season, the most since the 3-2 win over Norwich last April. Liverpool 64.7% possession was the third highest total of the season, behind Aston Villa (h) and Hull (h), two opponents nowhere near as capable as Arsenal are.

On the whole, Liverpool fared better than they usually do against Arsenal, last season's 5-1 home win not withstanding.

At home under Rodgers, Liverpool had won 5-1 and drawn 2-2. Liverpool lost both matches at the Emirates two goals to none. For the most part, yesterday's statistics were slightly better than we'd seen in previous against Arsenal, and the result wasn't out of the ordinary either. Which, again, is an improvement on Liverpool's recent form.

So yes, we saw some better from Liverpool. There are signs for optimism, signs this side can get its act together. The next five matches should be a lot easier than the previous two.

But we also saw the result ruined by the same problems that've have plagued the side all season: defensive issues on set plays and counters, and Liverpool's ability to convert its chances.

No comments :