27 November 2015

Visualized: Liverpool 2-1 Bordeaux

Previous Match Infographics: City (a), Crystal Palace (h), Rubin Kazan (a), Chelsea (a), Southampton (h), Rubin Kazan (h), 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.)

Despite being at home, against the 13th-place Ligue 1 side, Liverpool didn't dominate possession, at least in the second half, happy to settle into a defensive shell for the final 40 minutes with a one-goal lead. Liverpool didn't shoot well or enough: just 11 shots, just four on-target, just four in the Danger Zone. Liverpool pressed effectively, but not very often.

But Liverpool defended well, aside from that baffling moment of madness from Simon Mignolet. Which, to be fair, is rarely if ever called, but you still probably shouldn't hold onto the ball for more than 20 seconds.

Bordeaux put just two shots on target: both from the holding midfielder Saivet, both from free kicks. Only four of Bordeaux's 13 shots came from open play; nine came from set plays. Seven of Bordeaux's shots came from outside the area, only one close to threatening Mignolet. Only one of Bordeaux' inside-the-box shots came from open play: Contento's ballooned effort in the 68th minute. And that's despite Bordeaux utterly dominating the ball in the second half.

Liverpool won its first penalty of the season – its first penalty in the last 23 matches – and Benteke scored a wonderful Benteke goal.

Whatever. Good enough. Liverpool need to remember – or, to possibly be more accurate – to learn how to win, by any means necessary, against opposition they're supposed to beat at Anfield. 1-2 Palace, 1-1 Kazan, 1-1 Southampton, much of Brendan Rodgers' last year, etc etc.

We're far to used to Liverpool either drawing or losing these matches. Liverpool are far to used to drawing or losing these matches. But Liverpool didn't! As against Kazan and Chelsea, they came back from conceding the first goal. As against Chelsea, they went on to score at least one more. Liverpool have gotten at least a point despite conceding first in three of Klopp's nine matches, winning two of the three. Since the start of 2014-15, it happened all of seven times under Rodgers: three wins and four draws.

We're especially used to Liverpool drawing or losing these matches in Europe, whether home or away. Last season's abysmal Champions League campaign and elimination from the Europa League at the first time of asking; an indifferent, if satisfactory, performance in the group stage of the 2012-13 Europa League before losing to Zenit in the first knockout round. Brendan Rodgers won back-to-back European matches just once: the 3rd-qualifying round fixtures against Gomel, Rodgers' first two matches for Liverpool. It's Europe. It doesn't really matter how you win. All that matters is that you win.

And, despite sitting on two points, in third place in the group, when Klopp took over, Liverpool have now sealed qualification from the group with a game to spare. Before Sion, who had a three-point lead on Liverpool just two matchdays ago. Liverpool have won five of Klopp's first nine games, Liverpool have won five of its last six games.

Liverpool are remembering – or, to possibly be more accurate – learning how to win on a consistent basis. And that's happening even when Liverpool's nowhere near its best, or playing anywhere near its strongest lineup. And that's no small matter.

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