03 December 2014

Visualized: Liverpool 3-1 Leicester

Previous Match Infographics: 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.

(Nota Bene: Here's the formation diagram usually included in match reviews. It seemingly started out as 4-2-3-1, with Henderson closer to Lucas, but increasingly became 4-1-2-3 as the match went on, especially after Leicester went down to 10 men.)

Remember those few positives we've discussed after the narrow win over Stoke? Welp...

• Liverpool were out-shot again, 20 to 11, for the eighth time this season and sixth time in the last seven matches.

• Liverpool once again conceded a goal they shouldn't have conceded, another blunder coupled with bad luck from Mignolet (with a little bit of help from Johnson, Toure, and Lucas).

• Liverpool's attacking third passes can be best described by screaming "HIDE THE CHILDREN!"

So many long, failed attempts. 50 completed passes in the final third is the second-lowest total ever under Rodgers, behind the 49 of 80 completed in the 1-2 loss at Chelsea last season. And it's the third time in four matches that Liverpool have completed fewer than 60% of their attacking third passes.

• Liverpool were almost wholly unable to create chances, with only Sterling (1, an assist), Henderson (3), and Gerrard (1) registering a key pass.

• Liverpool's central striker, starting his fourth match in nine days (and playing all 90 minutes in all four), did not take a shot or create a chance.

Put simply, Liverpool won because Leicester are terrible.

Now, I can hear you say "but Palace/Basel/Newcastle/Aston Villa/etc. were pretty terrible and Liverpool still found a way to lose!" And you've got a point. But Leicester were worse.

Every single Liverpool shot on-target – all three of them – resulted in goals. That's happened just two other times since Brendan Rodgers became manager: the oft-mentioned outlier 1-0 win at Villa last season where Liverpool took just five shots (and just one after scoring in the 21st minute), and 10 days ago against Crystal Palace, where Liverpool scored with its first shot but failed to find the target with the next 11.

Leicester players prominently appear in each of Liverpool's three goal diagrams: failed clearances by De Laet and Morgan on the first (where Schmeichel also got a hand to Lallana's shot but failed to stop it), Morgan's interception to perfectly set up Gerrard for the second, and Wasilewski's mishit interception and Schmeichel's failed attempt to push the ball clear on the third. It's almost a shame that Wes Morgan was sent off in the 63rd minute; you could credit him with assists for Liverpool's first two goals.

Liverpool made one costly defensive error – one which wasn't even classified as an Opta-defined defensive error – but should have been punished even more. There were two Opta-defined defensive errors leading to shots, and Liverpool absolutely should have paid for the first, when Mignolet's clearance when straight to an open Cambiasso, who failed to hit an open goal. Those were Liverpool's 18th and 19th defensive errors this season; Liverpool "leads" the league in that category by three.

But, once again, baby steps.

Aside from the seemingly never-ending errors, Liverpool defended reasonably well, regardless of whether or not Leicester are terrible (they are). It was Lucas' best match since returning to the XI, with eight tackles (all successful) and four interceptions, leading the side in both categories. It's probably not coincidence that happened with Lucas as the sole defensive midfielder for the majority of the match rather than playing in a partnership. Leicester had seven corners and six free kicks in Liverpool's half, and Liverpool defended all of them adequately, allowing just one chance from James' 30th minute corner.

Liverpool at least retained its resiliency. Liverpool at least got a result. Liverpool won by two-or-more goals for the first time since August 31 at Tottenham, 18 matches ago (in all competitions). Liverpool scored three goals for just the third time this season, and it's hard to even count the QPR match, where two of those goals were actually scored by QPR.

And it is another weight off Liverpool's shoulders. Last week, they finally won a narrow game and kept a clean sheet. Now, they've won away from home, for just the third time this season, after those aforementioned matches at Tottenham and QPR. They've won despite conceding the first goal, for the first time since the last match of last season.

Liverpool may not have been very good, but at least they've refused to lose these last three matches despite not being very good. That's progress.

But Liverpool will almost certainly have to be better than they were yesterday to beat most other sides.

1 comment :

To W said...

I feel much more relaxed seeing Gerrard play in a more advanced role with Lucas behind (even if the Brazilian is always just a tackle away from being sent off) it feels more balanced.

Lallana looked bright and I thought we actually worked hard and were prepared to scrap for the win, which is the least to expect while we are struggling with our game.

As usual,we were liable to concede any time we were vaguely attacked - even against 10 men - but with hard work comes good fortune and a win against Sunderland should set us up nicely for a couple of tasty looking fixtures...