Previous Match Infographics: West Brom (a), Stoke (a), Bournemouth (h), Everton (h), Manchester City (h), Burnley (a), Arsenal (h), Leicester (a), Tottenham (h), Hull (a), Chelsea (h), Swansea (h), 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.
You can survive a stupid defense with an all-conquering attack, as we saw throughout the first half of the season. You can survive a stuttering attack with a competent defense, as we saw at West Brom last week, as well as more than a few matches against Liverpool's Top 7 peers.
You cannot survive weakness at both ends of the pitch. Or games like Sunday's will turn into results like Sunday's. It is a lot easier to ignore Liverpool's defensive frailties – seemingly no matter who's playing, even if this is the first time that Liverpool's lost when both Matip and Lovren start – or Lovren's hilarity or etc etc when Liverpool score three, four, five.
Liverpool aren't scoring three, four, five with Mané, Lallana, Henderson, Sturridge, and Ings absent. Liverpool may still be top scorers in the division, but they sure haven't looked it lately. And squad depth, injuries, etc are an enormous reason why.
So it's probably fitting that this is the nadir. A season-low in shot accuracy – 7.14%, one on-target from 14 in total – the lowest shooting accuracy in a match since Klopp joined Liverpool, and just the third time that Klopp's Liverpool have posted only one shot on-target in a match, after 1-0 v City on New Year's Eve, where Liverpool shut it down after an early goal, and 0-2 at Newcastle last season, which was hilariously bad for multiple reasons. No open play shots on-target, with the lone coming from Coutinho's direct free kick.
Since Liverpool's 1-1 draw at Manchester City six matches ago, Liverpool have had ten clear-cut chances, scoring five. 1.67 per match, 50% conversion. Liverpool's opponents have had 16, scoring seven, 2.67 per match with 43.8% conversion. Prior, Liverpool averaged 2.0 per match with 58.9% conversion. Their opponents averaged 1.21 per match with 55.9% conversion.
Imagine if Simon Mignolet hadn't saved three clear-cut chances against Stoke and West Brom.
You cannot survive weakness at both ends of the pitch.
So, yeah, there's Liverpool's increasing inability to score, to create clear-cut chances, to put shots on-target. There's still Liverpool's inability to break down deep, packed defenses. And there's still Liverpool's defending, especially against sides who want nothing more than counter-attacks and set plays.
And there's Christian Benteke, who did for Crystal Palace what he did for Aston Villa far, far too often.
Hell, even if Benteke never played – *looks at Liverpool's injury list* Narrator: "He would have played." – Liverpool should have kept him just so he can't do this. I know sample size remains an important thing but still. Benteke's scoring and shot accuracy against Liverpool is unconscionable, and he's been doing it since 2012-13, whether facing Skrtel, Agger, Carragher, Toure, Lovren, Sakho, or Matip.
So, once again, we've seen this story before, but somehow made even worse.
Another dismal performance against one of teams currently sitting between 12th and 18th, where all six of Liverpool's losses this season have come from. The lowest shooting accuracy of the season. More points dropped despite taking a 1-0 lead. A weakened XI, an inexperienced bench, an inability to change proceedings. Only seven shots allowed, but two high-value clear-cut chances conceded, both scored. Two goals conceded that shouldn't have been conceded – from a cross and from a set play – with an obvious scapegoat for both. Both goals scored by an ex-Liverpool player.
And all this with just four matches left to play, making the necessary Champions League qualification exponentially harder.