26 September 2016

Visualized: Liverpool 5-1 Hull

Previous Match Infographics: Chelsea (a), Leicester (h), Tottenham (a), Burnley (a), Arsenal (a)

All match data from Stats Zone and Who Scored.

What can you say about that performance.

Liverpool were unstoppable, irrepressible. Liverpool didn't allow Hull anything close to a foothold from the opening whistle, even before Elmohamady's red card, and barely gave them a glimmer of hope before quickly stomping it back out in the second half. It was everything we could hope for from one of those potential pitfall fixtures.

Conceding just five goals actually flatters Hull. Liverpool had five clear-cut chances and only converted two: Milner's two penalties. At the very least, Coutinho, Matip, and Wijnaldum should have added more.

It's the first time Liverpool have had five clear-cut chances in a league match since 4-1 at Manchester City last season, and the first time at Anfield since the 5-1 win over Arsenal in 2013-14.

Incidentally, Liverpool scored just seven goals in the equivalent six fixtures last season.

We've already seen three league goals from Lallana (reached that total on March 3 last season), Coutinho (reached that total on October 31 last season), and Mané (reached that total on October 25 last season); each of those players has also registered at least one league assist. And that's not even including the two cup ties, where Liverpool have scored another eight goals.

This attack is good. Like, really good. And it's not even October.

Let's take another look at Hull's tackles and interceptions, with Liverpool's touches heatmap from WhoScored as a backdrop.

There seems like there should be more tackles – really, any tackles – in the final third channels, yeah? Where are the tackles?


Hull defenders struggled to get close to Liverpool's attackers. 22 of 29 dribbles successful. Every Liverpool player who attempted a take-on won more than 50% of them. And this has been a major problem in the matches where Liverpool's failed against lesser opposition; compare that to Burnley, where Liverpool completed 16 of 26, with the majority coming slightly deeper and more central. Against Hull, Liverpool necessarily found ways to make space through clever dribbling, clever movement, and clever passing.

But that was just one small part of Liverpool's final third effectiveness. Because Liverpool, with 74% possession, were just as good without the ball.

Gegenpressing. Such a fun word to type.

And it all led to one of Liverpool's most emphatic attacking performances in the last few seasons. Sure, that Hull had only 10 men for an hour exacerbated the disparity, but the stats are still startling.

Liverpool have never held an opponent to just two shots in a league match since I started tracking in 2012-13; the previous low was three, by Everton in the 4-0 win last season and Swansea in a 5-0 win in 2012-13.

Those are also the only two Liverpool matches with a higher shot disparity than Saturday's. Liverpool took 34 more shots than Everton and 32 more shots than Swansea. Liverpool took "just" 30 more shots than Hull on Saturday.

And there have only been five league matches where Liverpool took 30 or more shots during that span: 37 against Everton, 35 against Swansea, and 32 against Fulham (4-0) and West Ham (4-1) in 2013-14 as well as Saturday against Hull. Unsurprisingly, all five came at Anfield.

All four of those previous matches came well into the season, November at the earliest, with the team fully formed and in form.

Liverpool's attack is somehow this good already. And Liverpool's defense ain't bad; sure, conceding from just one shot on-target, against ten men, isn't ideal, but to be slightly fairer, that was the first time Liverpool's conceded from a corner in the last 13 matches, since Sigurðsson's goal in early May. No side's taken more than 12 shots against Liverpool so far this season, while Liverpool hasn't yet taken fewer than 13.

For better and for worse, we're not even a fifth of the way through the campaign. Keep this up in attack and continue to improve in defense, and Liverpool might actually be even better than we dared hope.


Anonymous said...

That heat map overlay is amazing.

Stibs said...

I think the opening graphic is even more dramatic!