18 January 2016

Visualized: Liverpool 0-1 Manchester Utd

Previous Match Infographics: Arsenal (h), Stoke [League Cup] (a), West Ham (a), Sunderland (a), Leicester (h), 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.

You're sick of me complaining about Liverpool's attack. I'm sick of complaining about Liverpool's attack. We've done this before and we've done it to death. Take better shots, create better chances, put more shots on target, convert the ones you actually put on target, etc. Get better players.

Let's complain about the other end of the pitch instead.

• Six of the last 13 goals that Liverpool have conceded came from corners.

• Liverpool have conceded seven Premier League goals from corners, more than any other side (Bournemouth, Everton, Leicester, Newcastle have conceded six).

• Seven of the last 10 goals that Liverpool have conceded were scored by the opposition's striker.

• 33 of the 36 goals that Liverpool have conceded in all competitions this season came in the Danger Zone.

• Liverpool have now conceded 25 Premier League goals from 47 shots on-target in the Danger Zone, an unbelievably bad 46.8% save percentage.

• Liverpool's overall Premier League save percentage is an abominable 62.5%, the second-worst in the league.

• And Liverpool's opponents have scored with their first shot on-target in the last nine Premier League matches that Liverpool have conceded in. Manchester United, Arsenal, West Ham, Watford, West Brom, Newcastle, Man City, Crystal Palace, and Chelsea. Otherwise known as: corner, counter-attack, cross, corner, corner, counter-attack, counter-attack, low cross + error, and cross. In total, Liverpool conceded from the first shot on-target in 12 of the 15 league games where Liverpool have conceded. And three of the four Europa League matches where Liverpool have conceded. And both of the League Cup matches where Liverpool have conceded. And the one FA Cup match where Liverpool conceded, with, admittedly, a much different side. 18 of the 23 matches in all competitions where Liverpool have conceded this season. Good lord. That's incredible.

Yesterday saw the same problems we've seen time and time again this season, made worse by who Liverpool were playing. Because everything's always amplified against United.

If Liverpool were better in attack, it'd help cover up these issues in defense. If Liverpool were better in defense – and despite these stats, they're not that bad – it'd help compensate for the terrible attack, as it did against Leicester, Stoke (League Cup), Sunderland, etc. I still think the attack is the bigger concern – if Lallana converts his 10th-minute clear cut chance (or Firmino the follow-up, or, or, or…), we're probably not having this discussion – but Liverpool's issues in defense remain almost as harmful. Almost.

Right now, Liverpool are decent, if not honestly good, in the middle third of the pitch. And they very much were yesterday, against a United side that controls tempo, tenor, and possession in most every match. Liverpool do some things well, and most of those things have improved under Liverpool's new manager. But Liverpool are bad at the other ends. Both ends. And that's where the game's usually decided.

Liverpool's set play defense is bad, and as Paul Tomkins correctly noted, Liverpool's lack of height has a lot to do with that.

Liverpool's goalkeeper – whether Mignolet or Bogdan – is both often bad as well as error-prone, although in Mignolet's defense, there wasn't much he could do to stop yesterday's winner.

Liverpool's defense doesn't allow a lot of shots – United only took seven; Liverpool have allowed 10 or more opposition shots in just four of Klopp's 14 PL matches – but when they do, they tend to be very good shots. And I'm not entirely sure why, although I expect it's some combination of a high press that leaves Liverpool exposed at times, a dominance in possession leading to counter-attacks that leave Liverpool exposed at times, constant center-back changes due to injuries to Sakho, Skrtel, and Lovren, and Liverpool's awful set play defense.

I don't know the solution, at either end of the pitch (buying better players in attack is where I'd start). But I know that these issues haven't gone away, and don't seem to be anytime soon.


vinnie said...

In the hindsight, Rafa's controversial zonal marking looked like a a god sent!

E Coutinho Can said...

I think the only people who thought zonal marking under Rafa was bad were the anti-Rafa media really.

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