02 May 2016

Visualized: Liverpool 1-3 Swansea

Previous Match Infographics: Villarreal (a),Newcastle (h), Everton (h), Bournemouth (a), Dortmund (h), Stoke (h), Dortmund (a), Tottenham (h), Southampton (a), Manchester United (a), Manchester United (h), Crystal Palace (a), Manchester City (h), Manchester City [League Cup] (n), Augsburg (h), Augsburg (a), Aston Villa (a), 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.

That was just a whole lot of bad. Bad in defense (*glares at Martin Skrtel*), bad in midfield, and bad in attack, against opposition that Liverpool had beaten in the last five meetings. Liverpool's injuries have caught up with the side, Liverpool's focus on the Europa League has caught up with the side.

Liverpool's -7 shot differential was, by far, their largest negative differential in a league match this season. Liverpool's opponent has taken more shots than Liverpool just six times this campaign: Arsenal away (-4), United away (-1), Everton away (-1), Tottenham away (-1), Tottenham home (-3), and now Swansea away (-7). One of these teams is not like the others.

Liverpool's -1.2 xG differential (by Michael Caley's numbers) was, by far, their largest negative differential in either a league or European match this season. The previous low was -0.8, against Arsenal (h) under Rodgers and Leicester (a) under Klopp.

Liverpool's 11 shots were the joint-fewest in a league match (along with Villa away and City at home, matches where Liverpool scored early and often and didn't need to keep shooting) since the 0-2 loss at Newcastle back in December, where Liverpool took just 10.

But there's not a lot that Liverpool's attackers can do when Liverpool's defenders and midfielders constantly lose possession or misplace passes. Liverpool couldn't convert their marginal edge in possession into chances at any time in the match, whether level, behind by just a goal, or down to ten men. It's probably not coincidence that Swansea made 10 interceptions and 10 tackles in Liverpool's half yesterday.

Not only did Swansea register a bunch more shots than Liverpool, they were a bunch of better shots as well. Eight of Liverpool's 11 came from outside the box, 11 of Swansea's 18 came from inside the box. Two of Liverpool's three shots from inside the box came from corners, including the goal, with the other Sturridge's half-chance awkward volley in the 10th minute. One open play shot in the box, off-target, in 90 minutes. Sigh.

Meanwhile, Swansea put nine of 18 on-target (50%), Liverpool put three of 11 (27%). If not for Danny Ward's six saves, that scoreline looks even worse. This was just the second time this season that Liverpool allowed more than five shots on-target in a league match, after the 0-2 loss at West Ham where the home side took ten.

Liverpool allowed their opponent three clear-cut chances for just the third time in the league this season, along with Watford (a) and Arsenal (h), matches which took place in December and January respectively.

And, to cap it all off, this was the first time that Swansea scored three goals in a league match this season. They'd scored two goals in just 11 of the 35 matches before yesterday, with six of those coming before the end of November. The last time Swansea scored two goals at home was January 13 against Sunderland. 16 matches earlier.

Those Swansea goals came from a set play; an inability to clear and subsequent loss of possession in Liverpool's half coupled with Skrtel backing off the goalscorer; and a Yakety Sax comedy of errors barely two minutes after Liverpool almost kinda got themselves back into the game, starting from another loss of possession in Liverpool's half. It was a trilogy of failures, all different but all very Liverpool. Probably not coincidentally, Skrtel and Lucas featured heavily in Swansea's second and third.

This, along with maybe Watford away, was arguably Liverpool worst performance and result of the season, assuredly Liverpool's worst over the last few months. I'm hoping that it's an aberration: an under-strength, incredibly young, makeshift line-up in a less-than-meaningful league match played away from home in awful conditions. I'm hoping that it's forgettable. I'm hoping we see a very different performance and very different result in four days. A rainy, cold, end-of-season day in South Wales that's immediately gone from the memory if Liverpool win on Thursday.

But I'm not very hopeful considering what we've seen from Liverpool over the last two and a half matches.

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