Previous Match Infographics: Watford (a), West Brom (h), Sion (a), Newcastle (a), Swansea (h), Bordeaux (h), 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, match data from Stats Zone, except shot location from Squawka and average player position from ESPN FC.
Liverpool did some good things on Saturday. Finally. After three matches of mostly bad things. But what Liverpool did best was stopping Leicester from doing good things. Which is something that almost every other side to face Leicester can't say.
Liverpool are the first side to keep Leicester from scoring this season. Liverpool are the first side to deny Leicester a clear-cut goal-scoring chance. Only Bournemouth – in a match where Leicester took all of four shots to Bournemouth's five – allowed Leicester fewer shots or fewer key passes.
Liverpool held Leicester below its per-match average in every attacking metric.
Vardy and Mahrez? Three shots combined, zero chances created. Vardy's averaging 3.4 shots per match and 1.2 key passes per match; Mahrez's averaging 2.8 shots and 1.9 key passes per match. Vardy has 15 goals and three assists in the league, Mahrez 13 goals and seven assists. Liverpool – and Liverpool's 4-4-2 formation – focused on negating these players, as Anfield Index outstandingly highlighted, and Liverpool succeeded.
The only worry from the above chart is that while Liverpool allowed very few shots, they allowed fairly good shots: five in the Danger Zone – which is barely below Leicester's average – and three on-target. Which is the same problem Liverpool had against Newcastle, West Brom, and Watford.
Jürgen Klopp has reinvigorated Liverpool's defense – both the back four and midfield three (or two, or four) – and Liverpool are allowing fewer shots than they did at any time under Rodgers. But when the opposition gets chances, they tend to be fairly decent chances. Although, to Liverpool's credit, none of Leicester's Danger Zone chances were big chances, which is something Leicester are usually superb at creating, and only one of Leicester's Danger Zone chances was on-target.
Meanwhile, Liverpool's attack continues to have the opposite problem. Taking 26 shots is a positive, Liverpool's second-highest total of the season and the second-most that Leicester have allowed in a match this season (behind Arsenal's 27 in a 5-2 victory). But only half of those shots came from inside the box, only seven came in the Danger Zone, and only five were on-target. Those are not good things. And Liverpool's last shot on-target A) shouldn't have counted due to an uncalled offside and B) really should have been a goal.
The short version: shot volume good, shot quality bad, and not for the first time. And it was a trait that was amplified in the first 37 minutes of the match.
Liverpool took 19 shots with Divock Origi on the pitch, and just seven while Benteke led the line. Liverpool created a couple of decent opportunities in those first 37 minutes – Lallana into the side netting, Origi saved at the near post – but Liverpool's best two chances came in the final 53: Benteke's goal and Benteke's (offside) empty net chance saved by Morgan.
Of those 19 shots in the first 37 minutes: just four in the Danger Zone, three of them from set plays and Firmino from the edge of the area swiftly blocked. Just three on-target: Origi no-angle near post, Lovren's set play header, and Can from well outside the box. Eight off-target, eight blocked. 10 of the 19 came from outside the box.
Liverpool have to find a balance between shot quality and shot volume. Between how Liverpool play when Benteke's on the pitch versus how Liverpool play with Origi, or Firmino, or (lord willing) Sturridge. And, of course, Liverpool have to be more accurate no matter the shot quality or volume.
But neutralizing Leicester was Liverpool's priority, and Liverpool did it. Liverpool needed just enough in attack, and Liverpool got it.