11 May 2015

Visualized: Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea

Previous Match Infographics: QPR (h), Hull City (a), West Brom (a), Newcastle (h), Blackburn [FA Cup] (a), 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)

As always, match data from Stats Zone, except shot location from Squawka and average player position from ESPN FC.

Liverpool played reasonably well but struggled to score. Chelsea weren't at the peak of their powers, Chelsea didn't need to be at the peak of their powers, but Chelsea still defended resiliently because they're still a Mourinho side. It seems fairly straightforward from start to finish.

I couldn't help but mention in yesterday's match review that Liverpool still have yet to win away from home against a Top-4 side since Rodgers became manager. 11 matches: four draws, seven losses. Yesterday was the first draw against an opponent ahead of them in the table this season, having previously lost at City, United, and Arsenal.

But it's not as if Liverpool have been completely outclassed in all four matches.

It's this season perfectly encapsulated.

Liverpool outshot their opponents in three of the four matches (only Arsenal took more than Liverpool), 58 to 44 in the four fixtures. Liverpool made more key passes, and had similar passing and possession statistics despite being away from home against stronger squads.

The difference between the sides is the issue we've been hammering all season long. Liverpool's shooting is bad and Liverpool's shot accuracy is bad, so Liverpool doesn't score anywhere near enough goals. Something that hasn't been a problem for the four sides ahead of them in the table.

It's not as if Liverpool have wholly relied on speculative efforts. 31 of Liverpool's 58 shots came inside the box, 24 of those 31 in the Danger Zone (six-yard box and center of the 18-yard box). Which is a higher proportion of In-Box and Danger Zone shots than Liverpool are averaging in total this season. Liverpool created five Opta-defined Clear Cut Chances: one against City, three against United, and one against Chelsea. Gerrard's goal yesterday was the only one of the five that Liverpool converted.

Liverpool haven't converted their opportunities, because they're either not taking those chances and/or the opposition has prevented them from being good chances. Which has been the case whether Liverpool are playing at Chelsea or, say, Hull. Or West Brom, or Everton, or etc etc. Liverpool's shot accuracy in these four matches isn't much lower than Liverpool's season-long accuracy (31.03% to 33.45%)

Meanwhile, City, Arsenal, Chelsea, and United put more than 50% of their shots against Liverpool on-target and converted at a much better rate. Combined, 68.2% of those sides' shots against Liverpool came inside the box, 40.1% in the Danger Zone. So not only did those teams shoot more accurately, they took better shots than Liverpool did. Or, put another way, Liverpool allowed them better shots than they allowed Liverpool. And that's regardless of whether Liverpool were playing with three or four at the back.

And that's the difference between Liverpool and the sides ahead of them in the table. It's about shots, shot accuracy, and goals. It's about Liverpool's attack, or lack thereof. It is probably not coincidence that the two Liverpool strikers to play yesterday both failed to take a shot or create a chance (although, Sinclair, 18-years-old and making his debut, at least has an excuse).

It seems as simple as that, and it's the story of Liverpool's season.

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