07 November 2016

Visualized: Liverpool 6-1 Watford

Previous Match Infographics: Crystal Palace (a), West Brom (h), United (h), Swansea (a), Hull (h), Chelsea (a), Leicester (h), Tottenham (a), Burnley (a), Arsenal (a)

All match data from Stats Zone and Who Scored.

It's only been 11 league games and it's already getting hard to find new ways to wax lyrical about Liverpool's attack.

Once again, I'll begin with amazement at how wonderfully balanced the attack is.

I first put up this table last week, and if Liverpool continue in this fashion, we'll probably have to make it a regular occurrence.

Anyone can score. Anyone can make the assist. Liverpool have 10 different goal-scorers in the first 11 games, and that's without either Sturridge or Origi registering a league goal.

Most teams have one or two players who shoulder the scoring and/or creating load: Costa and Hazard at Chelsea, Agüero and de Bruyne at City, etc. Liverpool currently have four, all putting up similarly impressive totals, and that's without Daniel Sturridge getting going. We know he's more than capable of putting up numbers. 20 minutes on the pitch and he had more shots on-target than any other player in the match, hitting the woodwork with his one other effort. Can has two in his last two games, three of Liverpool's four center-backs have scored at least once, Wijnaldum finally got his first, etc.

As in Liverpool's other two ruthless home wins, they started strongly, but didn't start truly turning turning the screws until the 15th minute or so. As against Leicester, as against Hull, Liverpool test the waters, slowly rev up the crushing machine, and make the breakthrough between the 15th and 30th minutes. And then make another breakthrough. And maybe another. And maybe one or two more. 18 of Liverpool's 40 goals in all competitions have come between the 16th and 45th minutes (45%), with another nine in the 15 minutes after halftime.

It's a second consecutive game with at least four goals. It's a second consecutive game with at least four different goal-scorers. It's a second consecutive game with two goals from corners, as well as one from a broken free kick. It's another game with two goals from regaining possession in the middle third. It's another game that demonstrates Liverpool can hurt you in multiple ways, and Liverpool proceed to hurt you in multiple ways.

Liverpool have now scored four or more goals in five of this season's 11 games. No other side's done it more than twice: Arsenal, Chelsea, and City twice; Bournemouth, Palace, Tottenham, United, Watford, and West Brom once. They've done it 10 times in Klopp's 41 league games, and 13 times in all competitions.

Watford simply had no answer. Watford didn't even know the question. Absolutely no presence in midfield allowed Henderson, Can, and Lallana to dictate play. The movement of the front three coupled with Watford absences in defense left defenders baffled. Watford attempted just 15 tackles all game, successful with just nine. That's by far the lowest for any Liverpool opposition this season.

They aren't the first side to run straight into this Mack truck. And they probably won't be the last.

Meanwhile, I'm not too concerned with Liverpool allowing eight shots on-target or losing a clean sheet to a late consolation for the third time in the last four games, having done similar – albeit with the score far closer – against both West Brom and Tottenham (in the league cup).

Sure, it'd be nice to keep a clean sheet once in a while. More than once in 11 matches, at least. Sure, eight shots on-target is a lot. Liverpool have only surpassed that total in four matches this season: 4-1 v Leicester, 5-1 v Hull, 4-2 at Palace, and 6-1 v Watford. Liverpool have only allowed more opposition shots on-target twice under Klopp: 10 in an 0-2 loss at West Ham and nine in a 1-3 loss at Swansea with the b-team.

Five of Watford's eight shots on-target came from outside the box. Liverpool didn't allow a single in-box shot until after scoring their fifth goal. Liverpool didn't commit a defensive error, Liverpool didn't concede from a set play, and Karius made seven saves.

Five of those six Watford shots after the hour mark came in the spell up until their goal. Once Liverpool conceded, Liverpool woke up, with Deeney's injury time blocked shot Watford's lone attempt after scoring. Liverpool took nine shots during that spell, finally scoring through Wijnaldum.

It shows what can happen when you lose focus. You can smash bash and crash a team to infinitesimal bits, but they're in this league for a reason. Any side has the ability to punish another if given the opportunity. It's best if you don't give them the opportunity. But it's hard to fault players for losing focus when up by five, and they sure rediscovered that focus quickly.

I'd be a lot more concerned if any of those dangerous shots, or Watford's goal, came at 0-0, 1-0, or 2-0. I'd be a bit more concerned if it was a goal we'd seen conceded before: a set play, a defensive error, a quick counter-attack after unnecessarily losing possession. But Liverpool didn't let Watford do any of that.

And I'm especially not concerned by allowing eight shots on-target when you take 17 (and score six) of your own.

Hell, it's almost helpful, at least from a statistical point of view. And from a goalkeeper confidence point of view. Prior to yesterday's match, Karius had a 58.3% save percentage, allowing five goals from 12 shots on-target. After saving seven shots yesterday, he's all the way up to 70%. That's marginally above league average! Woo hoo!

The frightening thing, at least for everyone else in the league, is Liverpool can still get better. There are still a lot of new players in this squad, in defense, midfield, and attack. Liverpool can and probably should convert even more of their chances in attack, Liverpool can and somewhat did get a lot more secure at the back, especially from its goalkeeper.

Liverpool are already impressively, unbelievably good. And Liverpool have the potential to be even better, which they'll need to be to truly achieve all that they're apparently capable of.

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