All match data from Stats Zone and Who Scored.
It's getting tougher to pick out things to write about in these matches.
Like against Arsenal, Chelsea, and Swansea, Liverpool struggle at times, but Liverpool win, against an opponent that's given them fits in the past. And Tony Pulis has given more fits than most. On the whole, Liverpool look increasingly competent in attack, not too shabby defending in open play, and terrifying when defending set plays. It's a more malevolent attack and a more resilient side, but a side still prone to nerves at both ends of the pitch and conceding goals from set plays.
Might as well start with the bad.
Loris Karius has conceded three goals from six shots on-target in his four league starts. That's not good. All three goals have come from set plays, all three were corners. That's also not good. Liverpool faced two corners against West Brom, one against United, three against Swansea, and two against Hull. Three goals conceded from eight corners. 37.5%.
And all three have been from corners where Liverpool failed to clear the cross in, the opposition winning the second ball and subsequently scoring. Hull in-swinger, Maguire knock-down, Meyler goal from nine yards out. Swansea in-swinger, Borja knock-down, Lovren slight redirect, Fer goal from a yard out. West Brom out-swinger, Robson-Kanu knock-down, McAuley goal from four yards out. All three crosses going to the top of the six-yard box, all three goals from close range in the center of the box.
Which makes it slightly harder to blame Ser Loris. Oh, and Liverpool still won all three matches.
It's too bad, because Liverpool have actually defended well from open play since losing to Burnley. They've kept only one clean sheet, but have conceded just once in all the other matches, winning six and drawing one. Liverpool have only conceded three open play goals in the last seven matches: Rose for Tottenham and Costa for Chelsea were well-worked goals by very good sides, Vardy for Leicester was a hilarious and egregious error.
After nine league games last season, Liverpool had committed eight Opta-defined defensive errors, three of which led to goals. Liverpool drew twice (Norwich, Everton), and lost once (West Ham) when committing said errors. The two errors in the draws directly led to an equalizer, matches where Liverpool dropped four points they really shouldn't have.
This season, Liverpool have committed just four defensive errors. Two led to goals: Clyne at Burnley and Lucas v Leicester. A match Liverpool won and a match Liverpool might have lost anyway. It's been six weeks and six matches in all competitions since Liverpool committed an error which led to a goal.
So even if set plays remain the bane of our existence, at least Liverpool have mostly excised the painful individual errors.
And thankfully, aside from the draw against United, Liverpool's attack has been very good since that loss at Burnley. Liverpool are joint-top scorers with City, with 20 goals through nine games. Liverpool have scored two or more in six of nine league games, and four or more in three of those.
Liverpool probably should have scored more than two on Saturday, with Liverpool unable to extend its lead in the second half, Can and Firmino both denied on clear-cut chances. It should have been Hull or Leicester rather than Swansea, which is why we all felt like imminent death during the last ten minutes on Saturday.
This is a good chart.
It may not be coincidence Liverpool's lone loss came in the one match that Sadio Mané missed.
But it's also not just Mané. Coutinho also has four goals and two assists; he hit that mark on November 8 last season. Firmino has three goals and an assist; he scored his third goal on January 13 last season. Lallana has three goals and three assists; he got his third assist on December 30 and his third goal on March 3 last season.
LFC cumulative home stats vs opponents in the 2016/17 PL:— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) October 22, 2016
On Target: 33-6
Clear-cut chances: 13-4
Box shots: 44-13
"Is that good?" 🤔
After nine matches, we've learned what Liverpool can do. Liverpool are averaging more than two points per game for the first multi-match stretch since 2013-14, Liverpool have taken 16 points from a possible 18 since the draw at Tottenham almost two months ago. Liverpool have taken 20 or more points from the first nine matches just four times in 25 Premier League seasons: 23 in 2008-09, 21 in 2002-03, and 20 in 2013-14; the last two times it happened, Liverpool finished the season second.
We've already seen Liverpool hit heights rarely achieved in the last couple of campaigns, and can still tell they're capable of much more. There are fewer recurring issues, and we know what the remaining recurring issues are. We know what Liverpool need to keep doing, and what Liverpool need to fix to actually achieve what they're capable of.