15 February 2016

Visualized: Liverpool 6-0 Aston Villa

Previous Match Infographics: Sunderland (h), Leicester (a), Stoke [League Cup] (h), Norwich (a), Manchester Utd (h), 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.

Matches like that are hard to analyze, because it's hard to know just how much of that was lucky, how much was a fluke. It was fairly close in the first half, but quickly got out of hand in the second. We saw the best of Liverpool – frequently mediocre, but surprisingly competent on their day and when key players are fit – and the absolute worst of Aston Villa, who aren't especially impressive on their few-and-far-between good days.

My suspicion, unfortunately, is quite a bit of that won't happen often.

Liverpool's shooting accuracy – 81.8%, nine on-target from 11 in total – is, by far, the club's highest in a league match since I began tracking in 2012-13. The previous high was 75% in the 0-1 loss at Hull last season, where Liverpool put nine tame shots on-target and failed to score with any of them. The previous high where Liverpool actually scored was 69.2% in the 5-3 win at Stoke in 2013-14. Since 2012-13, Liverpool have shot better than 50% in just 12 league matches:

12 times in 140 matches.

Liverpool's goal conversion percentage – 60%, six goals from ten non-blocked shots – is, by far, the club's highest in a league match since 2012-13. The previous high was 55.6% at Norwich last month, which is the only other match over 50% during these three-plus seasons. Incidentally, Liverpool's third-best goal conversion percentage this season is 27.27% at City, which is a bit of a drop from the other two. And Liverpool's season-long average is a horrific 13.21% – better than 2014-15's 12.21% but vastly worse than 2013-14's 19.35%.

The last time Liverpool scored three goals from outside the box in a league match was 5-2 at Norwich in September 2012, Luis Suarez with all three. Prior to yesterday's match, Liverpool had scored just five goals from outside the box in the league in total: Coutinho at Stoke, Milner v Villa, Coutinho at Chelsea, Origi v West Brom, and Firmino v Arsenal. Liverpool scored eight last season, 17 in 2013-14, and 12 in 2012-13. Unsurprisingly, Luis Suarez accounted for a good amount of them in both 2012-13 and 2013-14 (five and seven, respectively).

The last time Liverpool had six different goalscorers in a league match was September 1989, when eight different players scored in the 9-0 win over Crystal Palace. The last time it happened in any competition was November 2000, with six different goalscorers in an 8-0 league cup win at Stoke.

And Liverpool did all of this in attack with no player taking more than two shots. Nine different players took at least one. Seven hit the target, six scored. There will be days where one player's "on" (I'm looking at you, Daniel). There will be fewer where pretty much everyone's on.

At the other end of the pitch, Liverpool have allowed their opponents one or no shots on-target in just four other league matches this season: one v Manchester United (United scored), one at Newcastle (Newcastle scored), one at Stoke, and zero v Swansea.

Six opposition shots in total was joint-second lowest in a league match this season. The low was against West Brom, where West Brom took just four shots and scored twice. The three other matches where Liverpool allowed six were at Norwich (Liverpool conceded four), at Watford (Liverpool conceded three), and at Newcastle (Liverpool conceded two).

Even when Liverpool have allowed few shots, and/or the opposition attack has offered next to nothing, Liverpool have often found a way to screw it up.

There was a lot that was unusual about Liverpool yesterday, mostly in attack, but also in defense. And I'm afraid that Aston Villa's being really really really really bad at football had a lot to do with it.

Nonetheless, it still seems clear that Sturridge, Coutinho, and Origi returning to the side will make Liverpool a much better football team. Both strikers scored, Coutinho created two assists, Firmino led the team in key passes. Having Sturridge, Coutinho, and Firmino on the pitch together will not only make Liverpool more potent, but also help to cover up some of the deficiencies in defense. I'm not comparing Liverpool's current side, or even Liverpool's potential, to 2013-14, but 2013-14 proved that a good attack can make up for defensive frailties and mistakes.

Liverpool are yet to lose when Daniel Sturridge starts this season (five matches, with three wins and two draws), and have lost just three of the 17 matches he's started over the last two seasons: at Manchester City, at Besiktas (in extra time), and v Manchester United last season. In total, Liverpool's record with him starting since 2014-15 is 11W-3D-3L. Six of those were cup ties, and I'm well aware you don't get points in cup ties, but that's an average of 2.12 points-per-game. That's an awful lot better than Liverpool's record without him.

As we're all well aware, Liverpool have found ways to fail against really really bad football teams before. Improvement is still improvement, and you can only beat what's in front of you. Liverpool haven't done that enough this season. And Liverpool certainly did yesterday.


Anonymous said...

What's your beef with Skrtel?

He's pretty much Liverpool's best threat from set plays in the box, and his grappling almost never gets called in the Premier League so actually him shoving people around on opposing set plays benefits the team.

Before this season he was pretty durable as well. I think he's better than Lovren, Caulker, and Toure. I hope we get rid of the latter two with Matip coming in and the fourth CB is a youth graduate.

Emre Coutinho Can said...

Got to say i probably agree with the above comment. I think Skrtel gets too much stick but on recent form i think Lovren is now probably better.

But i suppose Joel Matip and M Sakho looks like our future centerback pairing.

Anonymous said...

Maybe use more contrasting colors for the tackles/interceptions graphic next time?