27 September 2017

Visualized: Liverpool 1-1 Spartak Moscow

Previous Match Infographics: Leicester (a), Burnley (h), Sevilla (h), Manchester City (a), Arsenal (h), Hoffenheim (h), Crystal Palace (h), Hoffenheim (a), Watford (a)

Match data from WhoScored, except average position from the SofaScore app.

(Here's the formation diagram usually included in match reviews.)

This has become a parody. Liverpool has become a parody of itself.

That was nearly as dominant a performance as possible. And, somehow, Liverpool drew. Liverpool took just one point, still level with Spartak in the group and two points behind Sevilla, who they're yet to travel to.

You want to know why? This seems a good place to start.

I probably save that free kick. You probably save that free kick. For all of Simon Mignolet's faults – and there are a bunch – he saves that free kick, 999 times out of a 1000. As does Danny Ward.

Okay. Let's try to be slightly fairer. Spartak have three men screening in the wall and Karius sees it late. Fernando hits it really hard. Karius did not commit the foul leading to the free kick (hi Phil) or play an insane pass backward which was stolen and led to all the trouble (hi Emre).

That's little comfort. Because once again, Liverpool had been dominant but Liverpool had failed to score. And then this happened. Liverpool conceded against the run of play and Liverpool have to chase the game. And that hasn't gone especially well so far this season.

This is the song that never ends. It goes on and on my friend.

Once again, let's be slightly fairer and strip out both the City whomping and the League Cup loss. The red card made the former much more extreme and the latter was a much-changed side in a competition you shouldn't care about.

94 Shots
28 On-Target
7 Goals

28 Shots
12 On-Target
6 Goals

That isn't much more reassuring. We've complained about it after every setback this season. I am getting bored writing it and I'm certain you're bored of reading it. Liverpool aren't converting enough in attack, despite having some damned good attackers. Liverpool are conceding too much, often because they're allowing too easy chances in defense, often due to individual errors or set plays.

There were some signs of "better" yesterday. Liverpool had four clear-cut chances, their most in a match this month. Those four clear-cut chances came from four different attackers – Firmino, Coutinho, Sturridge, and Salah – and were created by three other players – Mané (twice), Henderson, and Alexander-Arnold. Liverpool's shot accuracy was higher than against Sevilla, Burnley, or Leicester. Liverpool's Expected Goals per shot was around 0.14, which was the second-highest of the season, after only the romp against Arsenal. Liverpool kept creating the kind of chances Liverpool thrive upon, not half-baked shots from distance or hopeless crosses and punts.

And at the other end of the pitch, Liverpool held their opponents to the joint-lowest shot total against Liverpool this season: just four, as Crystal Palace had – a side that's still yet to score a goal or take a point in the Premier League. Only one of those shots came from a dangerous position, in the Danger Zone: a Luiz Adriano open play header which was swiftly blocked. Liverpool kept their opponents from having a clear-cut chance for only the second time this month, as in the 0-2 League Cup loss at Leicester, after allowing six against City, two against Sevilla, one against Burnley, and four against Leicester in the league.

It wasn't enough. It wasn't enough because Liverpool didn't convert enough of the good chances created in attack, and let in at least one goal that shouldn't have been conceded.

Again. The song that never ends...

Nine points from the next four Champions League games will almost certainly be enough. Two wins over Maribor, and at least one from Sevilla away and Spartak at home. Even eight – two draws from the last two games rather than two wins – should do it. That's still absolutely possible. Maybe even less will suffice, at least for second place.

The margins have gotten too narrow for my liking. Sure, Liverpool are a missed penalty, bad finishing, and bad goalkeeping away from six points rather than two. We're inches from sitting here, talking about how Liverpool are strolling the Champions League and not far behind the top three in the league.

But we aren't, because Liverpool have been on the wrong ends of those fine margins in almost every single match this month. And they've been punished for it. Again and again and again.

And Liverpool can't keep this up, in either the Champions League or Premier League, before they truly are punished.


Mental AndBookmarked said...

Ni Nate
Great to read your stuff as always.

The only suitable comment to this performance is.....

no comment


Lucky said...

Hi Nate,

Love your stuff as always but I have to disagree with the last sentence. Liverpool have been on the wrong end of the fine margins again and again through September but they also look like a team that is about two steps away from starting to give teams a really good stuffing.