29 August 2016

Visualized: Liverpool 1-1 Tottenham

Previous Match Infographics: Burnley (a), Arsenal (a)

All match data from Stats Zone and Who Scored.

Liverpool v Tottenham. Klopp v Pochettino. It's closely contested, it's narrow, it's hard fought. Both teams have chances to win. Neither one does.

If it's any consolation, this was the best Liverpool performance against Tottenham in the three meetings since Klopp took over.

It's the first time Liverpool took more shots than Tottenham. The first time Liverpool took more in-box shots than Tottenham (and vastly more). The first time Liverpool's registered a larger Expected Goals total, and again, by a decent margin. The first time either side's converted a clear-cut chance in this fixture. The first time Liverpool's had a higher pass accuracy than Tottenham.

Pity that Liverpool didn't win, eh?

One of the more impressive features was how quiet Lovren and Matip kept Harry Kane. The striker took four shots and created two chances in last season's meeting at White Hart Lane (the most shots in the match), and took four shots and created three chances in last season's match at Anfield – including scoring the equalizer.

Kane took zero shots and created zero chances on Saturday. Liverpool were helped by his position, used as the second striker after Janssen came on – a position he's still acclimatizing to – but it's impressive nonetheless. And it bodes well for the future of the Lovren-Matip center-back partnership. Especially considering that Janssen, Tottenham's out-and-out striker for more than an hour, didn't take a shot or create a chance either.

That said, it's not so cool (© Klopp) that Liverpool once again had a lead in a close game but conceded an equalizer.

Eight league matches where a potential win became either a loss or draw, as well as two Europa League matches – one where Liverpool weren't punished because of a miraculous second leg, the other the soul-crushing final. Eight of those 11 equalizers coming in the second half, all but one after Liverpool had taken a lead into halftime.

You can't expect Liverpool to keep a lead in all of those matches. Shit happens, and there are some good sides on that list, including Saturday's opponent. And it has gotten marginally, slowly better: more of those matches came in the first half of Klopp's tenure, Liverpool impressively held onto and/or extended leads against Stoke, Everton, Villarreal, and Watford in last season's run-in as well as Arsenal two weeks ago.

But it's still an area which needs a lot of improvement. Despite clear (if slower than we'd like) progress, there are still multiple areas which need improvement.

Had you offered four points from trips to Arsenal and Tottenham three weeks ago, we'd all probably have taken it. Happily. Almost all the areas of concern were better on Saturday: a more cohesive and secure midfield, a more disciplined performance from Jordan Henderson, a stronger defense, Milner's contribution both in defense and attack from left-back. Liverpool did well to get shots in dangerous positions, Liverpool limited the opposition's shots from similar areas. Liverpool pressed well from the front – against a side that's quite good at eluding the opposition's press – and Liverpool usually avoided Tottenham's press, limiting mistakes and give-aways when playing out from the back, something that's gone terribly wrong at least once in each of the previous league matches.

It's the third game of the season, and we're seeing progress, at least in two of them. With a couple of very important new players, a new formation, etc.; as Paul Tomkins necessarily wrote this weekend, these things take time.

The performance was good – heartening, even – and the result was okay. Take that and move on.

The loss to Burnley remains the outlier. I'm a broken record here – and, unfortunately, will probably continue to be so – but the performance and result at Burnley is what most dramatically needs improving.

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