Previous Match Infographics: West Ham (h), Chelsea (a) [League Cup], Chelsea (h) [League Cup], Villa (a), Sunderland (a), Leicester (h), Swansea (h), Burnley (a), Arsenal (h), 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.
Saturday was the third time in the last five matches where Liverpool failed to score – 0-0 v Bolton, 0-1 at Chelsea, 0-0 at Everton – bracketing 2-0 and 2-1 wins against West Ham and at Bolton. 24 shots v Bolton, 16 shots at Chelsea, 17 shots at Everton. 57 shots in total: 19 on-target, 19 off-target, and 19 blocked. Exactly 33.3% accuracy, which is almost exactly Liverpool's season-long total. Zero goals. Liverpool have scored all of eight goals in the last eight matches in all competitions.
That's pretty much the alpha and omega of Liverpool's results over the last month. Unbeaten in 90 minutes, the only loss after extra time at Chelsea, since December 14th, but five wins and three draws in the eight league matches since. Liverpool needs wins, not draws, to make up ground on the Champions League places. It's become tiresome writing the same thing every week, and I'm sure you're tired of reading the same thing every week, but Liverpool's attack is the only remaining hindrance from this becoming a very, very good team.
Because Liverpool have also only conceded three goals in those last eight matches. Which is beyond remarkable, especially considering how this team started the season. There's little to add to the post from last week about how Liverpool haven't conceded an open play goal since New Year's Day, except that streak's now up to 870 minutes. It's not as if Everton took the game to Liverpool in the slightest bit, but the home side were allowed just three open play shots in the entire match: two speculative efforts in the first 20 minutes from outside the box, blocked and off-target, and Coleman's outstanding chance in 86th minute, wonderfully saved by Mignolet.
In the 2013-14 Goodison derby, Everton took 18 shots and scored three goals. In the 2012-13 Goodison derby, Everton took 16 shots and scored two goals. In the 2011-12 Goodison derby, Everton took 12 shots but failed to score. In the 2010-11 Goodison derby, Everton took 13 shots and scored two goals. I don't have stats for earlier matches, but I suspect it's been quite some time since Everton took fewer than six shots in a home Merseyside derby, which says quite a bit about both Liverpool's defense and Everton's ambition.
Everton did press Liverpool well, with 10 of 26 tackles and three of 12 interceptions in Liverpool's half, with far too many passes between the center-backs, wing-backs, and central midfielders rather than played forward. Liverpool desperately missed Lucas' steadying presence in midfield after suffering a thigh injury that'll supposedly keep him out for around a month.
Also, compare Henderson's average position on Saturday to that against West Ham, Villa, or Sunderland, with Liverpool needing the extra defensive help (despite Everton's lack of attack) and needing to balance Allen's forays forward. Henderson had averaged two shots and two chances created in those three matches; he took just one shot yesterday, from distance and immediately blocked.
And after the 56th minute, Liverpool desperately missed Coutinho in attack, forced off with a knee problem after a rough tackle from Besic in the first half. Michael Caley's Expected Goals chart says it all. As does the fact that Coutinho remained Liverpool's most creative player, with five key passes, despite going off before the hour mark. Bringing Sturridge on is all well and good, but someone needs to supply him, taking just one shot in his 34 minutes on the pitch. He was Liverpool's most creative player after coming on, setting up Lambert's blocked shot and Gerrard's side-foot wide. That's not where Liverpool wants Sturridge playing.
You can't legislate for injuries, but you can expect them, especially given Liverpool's packed fixture list over the last month or so. Which is why, in retrospect, playing Coutinho, Sterling, Gerrard, etc for 90 minutes at Bolton just three days earlier seems so maddening.
But you have to deal with what comes. The FA Cup is clearly important to Liverpool. And tomorrow's match against Tottenham is even more important to Liverpool's quest for fourth than Saturday was. If taking off Coutinho and then Sterling, if resting Lallana and Markovic, helps Liverpool achieve victory tomorrow, it might all be worth it.