09 April 2015

Visualized: Liverpool 1-0 Blackburn

Previous Match Infographics: Arsenal (a), Manchester United (h). Swansea (a), Burnley (h), 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)

Match data from WhoScored.

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

Yeah, I don't usually do infographics for domestic cup matches. Maybe I just needed to remember what a fairly-in-control performance and a winning result looked like. It's been too long.

Sure, it wasn't great. Liverpool rarely looked like scoring for almost 70 minutes. Liverpool required two marvelous saves from Mignolet, a missed free header from Rhodes, and a you-could-have-never-seen-it-in-real-time handball from Allen ignored to keep them from conceding an opener, all with a makeshift defense playing in a back four for the first time in a long time.

But it was good enough. In cup competition, that's all that matters. With a two-match losing streak and a four-match 'ugh what's happened to Liverpool?' streak, that's all that matters.

Of course, there's obviously still room for improvement at both ends.

Seven of Blackburn's 10 shots came in the Danger Zone: two on-target, two off-target, three blocked. That's a terrifyingly large percentage of higher percentage chances. And that's incredibly dangerous against better attacking sides. In Liverpool's last two losses, they allowed two Danger Zone shots to United (from six in total), and seven (from 16 in total) at Arsenal. In the 16 previous league matches, since the switch to 3-4-2-1, Liverpool allowed just 60 DZ shots from 170 in total – 35.3%.

To be fair, that's how Blackburn were always going to attack, limited to shots from set plays, crosses, and a couple of counter-attacks. But it's still worrying. 39 of the 55 goals Liverpool have conceded (26 of 36 in the league) have come from the Danger Zone, after all. And it's something that Liverpool will have to improve in future matches, especially if Liverpool are going to persist with four-at-the-back, and especially given news that Sakho will be out for the next few weeks due to a hamstring injury (with Skrtel still suspended for one more match).

And, of course, there were also the usual problems with Liverpool's shooting, specifically putting shots on-target. But Liverpool at least improved in one area compared to the reverse fixture (well, two, considering Liverpool actually scored in this match). Blackburn only blocked two of Liverpool's shots. They blocked eight of Liverpool's 22 at Anfield. Considering Blackburn routinely had anywhere from six to eight defenders in the box, Liverpool did decent job in finding space for shots. Sterling and Coutinho, used on the left and right respectively rather than the more-typical opposite, both did well with the ball at their feet: Sterling completing seven of 12 dribbles, Coutinho four of four.

Liverpool have averaged 4.3 blocked shots per match through 31 league matches, against defenses that don't sit as deep or as compact as Blackburn did (as well as 5.0 shots on-target and 5.9 shots off-target per match).

The next step is, you know, getting a few more of those shots on target.

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