23 October 2015

Visualized: Liverpool 1-1 Rubin Kazan

Previous Match Infographics: Tottenham (a), Everton (a), FC Sion (h), Aston Villa (h), Norwich (h), Bordeaux (a), Manchester United (a), West Ham (h), Arsenal (a), Bournemouth (h), Stoke (a)

As always for Europa League matches, all data from WhoScored.

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

What, you mean Klopp hasn't fixed all of Liverpool's problems in a week? JÜRGEN OUT, etc etc.

On the surface, that was a very Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool performance and there were an awful lot of uncomfortable familiarities.

• The result: Liverpool's sixth 1-1 draw in the last eight matches.

• Conceding a goal that Liverpool probably shouldn't have conceded, with the defense beaten by a long cross-field pass over the top and Devic in behind Clyne and Skrtel far too easily, although not many players will take a first touch as lovely as that.

• Liverpool's shooting: reasonably prolific – Carlisle aside, Liverpool's 35 shots were a high for both this season and last – but horribly inaccurate, with far too many efforts off-target or blocked, and far too many from outside the box. Just six shots on-target, with 19 off (including one off the woodwork) and 11 blocked.

• Liverpool scored just one goal from all those shots. Kazan scored one goal from just five. And four of those five shots came from inside the box, compared to just 14 of Liverpool's 35.

You have heard this song before. But there were a few important differences as well.

35 shots vastly outnumbered any total that Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool accumulated in Europe. The previous high under the previous manager was 23 shots against Ludogorets last season. That was the only time a Rodgers side took more than 20 shots in a European match. Liverpool averaged 13.8 shots per match in Rodgers' 18 European contests (not counting qualifiers against Hearts and Gomel, which I don't have stats for).

Unlike against Sion, only two of Liverpool's 35 shots were clear-cut chances: Can scoring once, Benteke missing the other in the 74th. Liverpool had six against Sion: the first scored by Lallana, the subsequent five either saved (4) or blocked (1). Liverpool weren't quite as wasteful as they were in the last 1-1 European home draw, their opponents were (necessarily) more focused on defense.

It's not easy to break down a 10-man side, especially one that has no need to come out. Liverpool at least did well to create chances and get into some decent positions against a team that, down a man, desired to do nothing but defend. They varied their build-up, attempting both crosses and playing through the middle, trying one-two one-touch passes and running at defenders, rather than the often staid stuff we saw earlier this season and last. Benteke and Firmino were clearly rusty, Origi's only 20, Coutinho's poor form continues (although he was at least creating chances in addition to taking speculative shots), almost every player showed the effects of tiredness after a difficult match at Tottenham four days earlier.

If Liverpool continue to create that volume of shots – especially when they out-shoot their opponents by 30 – I'm fairly confident Liverpool will usually score more than one goal and Liverpool will win more matches than they lose or draw.

And Liverpool had lost six of the last seven matches when conceding first, going back to the last time they won after conceding first: at Palace last February in the FA Cup. At United, against West Ham, at Hull, at Arsenal, against United, at Besiktas. The only exception was a draw at Chelsea last May – a Chelsea who'd already clinched the league – Gerrard's headed equalizer after Terry gave Chelsea the lead.

It is a good thing that Liverpool rarely conceded first, in just seven out of the previous 30 matches. It is a bad thing that Liverpool almost never got back into the game if they did concede first. At least that wasn't the case yesterday, keeping unrelenting pressure on Kazan's defense for the final hour.

Can, Lallana, and Sakho – players who were misused and/or underused under Rodgers – were all excellent, for the second successive match. That's no small matter either.

So, yes, there's still quite a bit of progress that needs to be made. And the majority of it is at the sharp end of the pitch. We knew (or should have known) that'd be the case. But, despite a disappointing draw, the second consecutive draw under Klopp, there are some good signs.


Balfy said...

Interesting to see if we can match the enthusiasm we set about in the Spurs game with the Saints. Hard to tell until we see Firmino able to relieve some pressure off Countinho to be creative and Benteke and Sturridge alternating.

Anonymous said...

Well analysed. Lots of positives from the game in fact.

Once Sturridge returns, Benteke gets fit, and some recovery in form in Coutinho, the team would be in good shape to climb up the league.