23 January 2017

Visualized: Liverpool 2-3 Swansea

Previous Match Infographics: Manchester United (a), 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.

I don't have much to add to Saturday's match review except to reiterate how unforgivable almost all of this was. And on a weekend where Tottenham, City, and United also dropped points. Tottenham and City have the consolation of doing it to each other, United while getting a late equalizer at a ground that's difficult to go to.

They also all at least got a point. Meanwhile, Liverpool lost to the worst team in the division at home.

So, in lieu of writing a bunch about a match that you don't want to read about, here are a few charts and also some words because I really can't help myself.

Admittedly, Coutinho's injury isn't the sole catalyst, by far. There's the much busier winter schedule, defenses realizing that all they need to do is still deep then launch long to avoid the counter-press, Henderson's injury, Matip's injury then unavailability, Mané's absence in the last two league games, both Sturridge and Origi wildly off form and we're not quite sure how they fit into this system which seemingly requires Firmino up top. But it's a handy dividing line, especially as it happened right when fixtures became more frequent.

But, you say, "Well, that doesn't really matter when first the defense was bad and dumb to start the second half on Saturday, then Liverpool scored twice and looked on pace for a third, and then the defense was bad and dumb again and Klavan committed an error, and that's the match."

And there's something to that. Liverpool's points per game during this less-than-fun stretch recovered almost exactly parallel to a drop in Liverpool's goals conceded, even as shots and shots on-target allowed remained on exactly the same pace. Liverpool have been notably bad and/or dumb defensively in six or so league matches by my count this season (at Burnley, at Swansea, at Palace, at Bournemouth, at Sunderland, v Swansea), and won two, drew one, and lost three – all three of Liverpool's league losses this season.

Yet I still remain of the belief that Liverpool's defense pretty much is what it is. It is better with Matip, it will probably be better with Gomez (if only beginning next season), and Liverpool should probably look to buy another center-back this summer. No matter who plays, Liverpool will do a decent job limiting opposition shots. Sometimes, Liverpool will also commit dumb errors and/or fail on a set play. Liverpool have at least gotten better at both of those things as the season's gone on, even if that's hard to remember after matches like Saturday's.

If Liverpool's attack is firing at the start of the match, rather than only after going 0-2 down, all of this is probably a moot point. As it was when hosting Leicester, Hull, and Watford earlier this season. There were only six first-half shots, but five of them were in the Danger Zone, one of them (Can's errant header) a clear-cut chance. Five of six were off-target, the other blocked.

Liverpool's successes in the last season and a half still mainly derive from the successes of Liverpool's attack more often than not. More often than not, Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool will live and die with its attack. And right now, this ain't living.

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