16 January 2017

Visualized: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United

Previous Match Infographics: Sunderland (a), Manchester City (a), Stoke (h), Everton (a), Middlesbrough (a), West Ham (h), Bournemouth (a), Sunderland (h), Southampton (a), Watford (h), 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.

A day later and it's still hard to focus on anything other than a linesman's incorrect decision.

But, yes, Liverpool did a lot of good things.

Liverpool remain the only top-six side not to lose to a top-six competitor this season.

Liverpool held United to their joint-lowest shot total during this now-16-match unbeaten run, tying the nine that United took against Swansea, a match where they went three up after 33 minutes and bothered to take just one shot in the second half.

The only match where United took fewer shots this season was the 0-0 at Anfield, where they totaled all of seven.

Liverpool did this while missing half its preferred backline, one through unexpected injury and one through unsurprising FIFA shenanigans. An 18-year-old right-back made his full league debut at Old Trafford, up against the quick and tricky Anthony Martial. And while United caused a few problems down that flank, Alexander-Arnold coped adequately, especially after the first 25 minutes and especially considering his age and experience. And Liverpool did well to protect him, with Lovren, Can, and Henderson all helping to cover, all four players accounting for multiple tackles and Lovren and Alexander-Arnold combining for six interceptions.

Liverpool's +4 shot differential is the joint-highest against United this season, tying what league-leading Chelsea did in their 4-0 home romp over United, a match which prefaced this current United unbeaten run.

Liverpool's 11 in-box shots also matches Chelsea's total in that contest, another high against United this season. In the 0-0 at Anfield three months ago, five of Liverpool's nine shots came from outside the box.

United took all of two shots between the start of the second half and the move leading up to the equalizer, both from outside the box and off-target. A spell that United supposedly "dominated." During that spell, Firmino, Lallana, and Wijnaldum all had in-box chances to extend Liverpool's lead on the counter. From the 45th to 83rd minutes, Liverpool took six shots to United's two.

Which leads into the annoying fact that Liverpool did some bad things as well.

Liverpool shouldn't have been in the position to concede a late equalizer because of those second-half counter-attacking chances. Firmino's was too close to the keeper. Lallana's was tame. Wijnaldum had time to control with his chest rather than attempt a much-more difficult header, then tamely shot at De Gea in injury time.

Liverpool were absolutely nowhere near their potent heights, but this could have come at least a little close to the supreme counter-attacking performances against City and Chelsea last season had Liverpool converted one or even two of those chances. Score in the first half, control the match, extend the lead, go home happy. Sigh.

Liverpool are yet to score an open play goal in 2017. Two corners at Sunderland and a penalty at United (which came from a corner), goalless with the kids against Plymouth and at Southampton in the League Cup. Four matches. 360 minutes. Zero open play goals. That's not good.

It can't, or shouldn't, be solely down to Coutinho and now Mané's absences. Sure, take two of the best attackers out of almost every side and they suffer, but Liverpool need to be able to better cope. There's still attacking talent in this side. This is, as I suspect you remember, not the first time I've written this. With Coutinho returning, I'm hopeful I'll be writing it less. Liverpool have averaged 0.6 xG less per game since Coutinho's injury, from 1.8 to 1.2. Firmino had five goals and three assists before Coutinho's injury, he has just one goal (in the 4-1 win over Stoke) since. I remain convinced this, coupled with a small squad and a couple of other absentees, is the main reason for Liverpool's festive season slump. Incidentally, all four second-half chances mentioned above came after Coutinho came on.

While a second goal probably would have sealed a win, once again, with a narrow lead late into the game, Liverpool concede. Even if, yes, it shouldn't have stood because it shouldn't have gotten to that position. It's the fourth time that's happened this season: Spurs, Bournemouth (who went on to win), Sunderland (a), and now United this season. That's nine points lost. Don't look at the table.

There have been a few matches that Liverpool won with goals in the final 20 minutes – at Swansea, against Sunderland, Leeds in the League Cup, and at Everton – but they don't quite make up for the points dropped. At least it's better than last season?

Still, all considered, there are probably more positives from yesterday than negatives. Liverpool could and probably should have won at Manchester United for the first time in three years, Liverpool did enough to merit that win. It's just, as usual, the negatives – whether from Liverpool or the officials – will stick far longer in the memory.


Anonymous said...

Yea it's hard to focus on the positives drawn from the match.

So many consecutive official errors blighting the matches, it's not funny.

What makes it worse is they are so clear-cut. Unlike the calls against us which is so marginal but the benefit is not given to us. That There is even a doubt is incredible, right to the mere inch. It's like their vision is restricted to making super precise calls but fluffing their lines with the impossibly inaccurate non calls.

I doubt there is even retrospective action for the thuggery. Regardless of what's said, or not said in match report.

Kinda frustrated and makes us miss the point of doing enough to win it.

Glad we are consistent in one way though.we don't resort to untoward tactics. This is not about being flexible and bending towards dark side to get the result.

Wish we were at least 3 points behind the leaders at this point. The losing of unnecessary points notwithstanding. And taking into consideration our drop in playing level, amid the optimism of building something and having players return. And new valuable additions.

Anonymous said...

I think Oliver had full view of the Pogba and roomy incidents.

I like firmino''s response though. He may have reacted less desirably but his actions afterward indicated a better man. While the little git continued to remonstrate and as I recall demonstrate the shove. Haha.

Anonymous said...

It's funny but I remember this season's many last minutes concessions and individual errors more than the winning salvos. Well maybe for the wij manc winner or the mane Everton winner. Goes to show the effect of those draws and loss. Our subs and reserve players also aren't at the top6 level I guess.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice phil jones bumping off Origi just before the ball went out of play inside the box? No mention of that misdemenor or perhaps that is ok from their players.