02 October 2017

Visualized: Liverpool 1-1 Newcastle

Previous Match Infographics: Spartak Moscow (a), 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.

This was Liverpool's second-lowest shooting accuracy in a league match since the start of last season, behind only the 1-2 loss against Crystal Palace in April. Two shots from 17 – 11.8% accuracy. The two on-target? Coutinho's thunderbolt and Sturridge's clear-cut chance from Clark's defensive error. That's it. One on-target from inside the box, despite 10 shots, despite three clear-cut chances, and it came solely because of an opposition mistake.

This was the only time that Liverpool have had three or more clear-cut chances in a league match but failed to score any of them. Before Saturday, Liverpool had posted at least three clear-cut chances 14 times in league matches since the start of last season. Liverpool's record in those 14 matches was 11W-3D. Liverpool's goals-per-game average in those 14 matches was 3.07. At least Liverpool have maintained that unbeaten record.

Newcastle scored with its first shot on-target from inside the box. As did Watford, Hoffenheim (h), Sevilla, Burnley, and Leicester (League Cup). Six of the ten matches that Liverpool have conceded in this season.

Liverpool went nearly 30 minutes in the second half without taking a shot. With the score still level at 1-1. During a spell where Liverpool had almost 74% possession. Despite – or, arguably, because of – making both formation and personnel changes. Rafa Benitez, everybody. It ain't easy or fun to play his sides on their ground with the game tied, especially in the later stages. Newcastle have conceded more than once in a league match just once this season: 0-2 against Tottenham on opening day, with both Tottenham goals coming after a Jonjo Shelvey red card.

There's no sugar-coating it. This is yet another in a very bad run of games and an even worse run of results. One win in seven, and that win was arguably Liverpool's worst statistical performance aside from the red card shellacking at Manchester City. Liverpool still have at least one costly moment in defense per match, and have added an unbelievable wastefulness in front of goal to that. We're not getting 3-3s and 3-2s, we're getting 1-1s. Three of them in the last five matches.

But Liverpool are still +2 points on last season's equivalent fixtures. Wins against Palace and Leicester where Liverpool lost last season more than cancel out a loss at City where Liverpool drew and draws against Burnley and at Watford where Liverpool won. This was actually a better result than the comparable fixture from last season as well, a loss at Hull.

But Liverpool, despite this horror show run, are just a point behind Chelsea and Arsenal, and two points behind Tottenham.

It is only October, barely October, and it feels if the season may be running out. But it hasn't yet. There are still 31 league matches left, starting against Manchester United in 12 days. As if that fixture could get any more important.

It seems a very good time for an international break. Get away from Liverpool, and Liverpool's issues – which I maintain are issues of confidence and morale more than underlying structural problems. The shots are there, the chances are there. The opposition's aren't. Despite a month's worth of evidence to the contrary, I maintain that Liverpool aren't far away from fixing things. There's gonna be a match where four or five of those chances go in rather than just one – as against Arsenal little more than a month ago. There has to be.

Clear heads, or at least worry about something else for the next two weeks. Both the players, and us.

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