05 March 2015

Visualized: Liverpool 2-0 Burnley

Previous Match Infographics: Manchester City (h), Besiktas (a), Southampton (a), Besiktas (h), Tottenham (h), Everton (a), 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.

(Nota Bene: Here's the formation diagram usually included in match reviews.)

A professional, comprehensive, industrious performance. And only three or four top-class saves prevented it from being a resounding result.

It's the second consecutive match where Liverpool allowed just one shot on-target. In both matches against Burnley, the Clarets put just the one shot on-target, out of 25 in total. And that one shot on-target was Barnes' attempted header across goal to Ings just before halftime yesterday. So, yes, Liverpool have defended well in both fixtures, but 4% shooting accuracy isn't conducive to earning points against Liverpool.

It was Liverpool's sixth clean sheet in the last eight league matches: at Sunderland, at Villa, v West Ham, at Everton, at Southampton, and v Burnley. Sure, it's not the most difficult stretch of fixtures, but four of those clean sheets came away from Anfield, which is no small matter. Liverpool have allowed 55 shots in those six matches – an average of 9.2 per match – with just 14 on-target. Just 2.3 per match, just 25% accuracy. You're not gonna concede many goals when you limit the opposition to that.

Liverpool's 580 completed passes (674 attempted) were the second-most in a match this season, behind the 653 in the 0-1 loss to Villa in September. There have been just three other matches where Liverpool completed more than 500 passes this season: the aforementioned loss to Villa, the first match against Southampton, and the 2-2 draw against Arsenal. It happened 11 times last season and six times in 2012-13.

There were simply no weaknesses in the side, in the performance. Okay, the opposition wasn't great and the finishing could have been better, but the defense, midfield, and attack were all above par. Limiting Burnley's chances with no errors from defense, and with both Lovren and Can comfortable in possession. Henderson and Allen again a fairly flawless pairing: knowing when to go and when to sit, pressing in tandem, both adding to Liverpool's attack (although Henderson obviously did more going forward). Some lovely interplay and movement in attack, with Sturridge getting closer to finding his form. You'd hope for more involvement from Sterling, relegated to wing-back, but he still had some outstanding moments, and it's worth noting that the 20-year-old played three different positions – right wing-back, left wing-back, and central striker – none of them his preferred position.

Along with Henderson, Coutinho was the star: dominating the ball, singlehandedly creating more chances than Burnley did, the most successful dribbles in the match (five; Burnley had seven in total), inches away from scoring a third wonder goal in as many matches. We worried he wouldn't be able to find the space that Manchester City's midfield allowed, with Burnley deep and tight and resilient, but that wasn't an issue at all. What a wonderful footballer he's becoming. A wonderful all-around footballer, now that he's improved his shooting over the last few matches.

Once again, Liverpool's shooting was above average shooting from distance, with four of 12 shots from outside the box on-target (including Henderson's opener). And that's a decline from the previous two matches. Three of Liverpool's last five goals have come from outside the box (after scoring three in the first 25 league matches), and Liverpool's shooting accuracy from outside the box was 50% (nine of 18) in those three matches. That's insane.

With Liverpool's goals from distance improving, hopefully goals from headers will follow. Sturridge's goal was Liverpool's first headed goal in the league since Skrtel's 97th-minute equalizer against Arsenal on December 21. 12 matches ago. 951 minutes ago. 22 goals ago. In the meantime, Gerrard did score with a header at Wimbledon, and Shelvey headed in an own goal against Swansea, but it speaks to a weakness in the side, both from open play and set plays. Liverpool now have three headed goals in the league: those two and Johnson's winner against Stoke in December (although they've scored four more in cup competition). At this point last season, Liverpool had scored 12 headed goals in the league, from Sturridge (5), Suarez (3), Skrtel (2), Agger (1), and Gerrard (1). It's a weakness that should be remedied as Sturridge returns to full fitness.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Love these visualised reports Nate - great stuff.

This game was a proverbial banana skin and we navigated it with professional ease.

The boys have a few days to rest now after such a busy schedule and we'll need two more professional performances like we've just seen against Blackburn and Swansea to get through to the next round of the FA Cup and to tee up 2 very important games against Utd and Arsenal.

The next 4 games could really define the run in to our season.