05 March 2018

Visualized: Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle

Previous Match Infographics: West Ham (h), Porto (a), Southampton (a), Tottenham (h), Huddersfield (a), Swansea (a), Manchester City (h), Everton (h), Burnley (a), Leicester (a), Swansea (h), Arsenal (a), Bournemouth (a), West Brom (h), Everton (h), Spartak Moscow (h), Brighton (a), Stoke (a), Chelsea (h), Sevilla (a), Southampton (h), West Ham (a), Maribor (h), Huddersfield (h), Tottenham (a), Maribor (a), United (h), Newcastle (a), 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. 

Why, yes, Liverpool's front three did a bunch of good again.

Mohamed Salah scored again. He now has 32 goals in all competitions this season. He's scored in seven consecutive games.

Sadio Mané scored again. He has 14 goals in all competitions this season, bettering his total from last season. He's scored in three consecutive games; he's got five goals in those three games.

And even though Newcastle kept Firmino off the score sheet, he's still there with an assist and is Liverpool's most creative player in the match. He's at the epicenter of Liverpool's second goal, winning back possession, then getting into position to charge through the middle of the pitch before finding Mané in traffic, but he's also involved in the first without touching the ball – he drops into midfield when it looks as if Henderson and Oxlade-Chamberlain will build possession, and Dummett goes with him, leaving space for Salah and Oxlade-Chamberlain to exploit when given the opportunity.

Once again, it's a very, very good front three. I'm very happy to be able to write this almost every single match. I'm very happy watching them do it almost every single match.

And it's not as if Benitez's Newcastle made it easy for them.

No side has blocked a higher proportion of Liverpool's shots than Newcastle did this season. Chelsea's the only other side to block more than half – nine of 16, barely less than Newcastle – while West Brom's the only other with more than 40% blocked – six of Liverpool's 14.

Liverpool drew both of those matches, 1-1 and 0-0. There were small margins in both – Willian's fluky equalizer, three clear-cut chances either missed or blocked against West Brom – but Liverpool still could only draw in both.

Liverpool won yesterday, by two goals.

It's also worth noting that most of Liverpool's shots were high-value shots. 11 of 14 from the Danger Zone, including both goals. Just two from outside the box, the last two Liverpool shots of the match. Half of Liverpool's efforts in the aforementioned draw against Chelsea came from outside the box.

Liverpool's front three are rolling and Liverpool are incrementally getting better at breaking down sides like these and life is good.

And while there doesn't seem to be a point in writing about Liverpool's defense in a match where the opposition had just 29% possession and just seven shots, Liverpool's defensive improvement needs mentioning.

Four clean sheets in the last six games is good, even if the league opponents in those currently sit 15th, 16th, and 17th.

Yes, Virgil van Dijk has a lot to do with it, even if he's only started in five of the the last 38 league games. As with Mané last year, as with Salah this year, one player can improve a side quite a bit when it's the right player.

Winning everything in the air. Getting rid when need be. A handful of interceptions and tackles. Freeing Lovren to do the things that Lovren's actually good at.

I still can't get over the amount of tackles – both successful and attempted – that Liverpool made in a match where they so dominated the ball.

Liverpool have made more successful tackles in just three other matches this season: 27 against West Ham and at Porto, and 33 against Manchester City. Incidentally, all three of those matches came in the last two months. Incidentally, Liverpool also scored at least four goals in all three of those matches.

Liverpool tackle a lot; only three sides average more successful per game – Huddersfield, Palace, and Stoke. No side has a better tackling success rate – 67.0% of Liverpool's are successful, Tottenham's second with 66.8%.

Of course, it's not the center-backs doing the tackling.

Midfielder, Midfielder, Full-back, Full-back, Full-back, Midfielder, Forward, Midfielder, Center-back, Full-back.

It shouldn't be the center-backs doing the tackling. Not in this system. The center-backs have improved, and subsequently, the defense has improved, but it's a team-wide defense. Including the goalkeeper – who once again made a crucial save with the game in the balance.

And everyone's doing their jobs.

Liverpool are allowing about as many shots in the last five league matches as they had in the 24 before: a little less than eight per game. But the shot quality's fallen off a cliff. Through the first 24 league matches, Liverpool opponents averaged 0.123 Expected Goals per non-penalty shot. That's high. That's way too high. In the last five matches, that average has dropped to 0.079 xG per shot allowed.

Six of Newcastle's seven shots on Saturday came from outside the box. The only one from inside the box was from a corner, in the 77th minute with Liverpool already 2-0 up.

And, at the same time, Liverpool has been even more dangerous at the other end. 0.115 xG per shot through the first 24 league games, 0.147 xG per shot through the last five. Better chances and more goals for that ravenous front three.

It's all coming together. And at a very good time to do so.


Artem said...

>I still can't get over the amount of tackles – both successful and attempted – that Liverpool made in a match where they so dominated the ball.

Zweikampf. The word you're looking for is Zweikampf. The single most important stat in German football.

Vicky Agastya said...

Hello Nate. Thanks for maintaining the blog for every single match.
I have one request - Can you also show the Passes Received graph along with the Passes attempted graph?? I'd like to see what pattern that graph would reveal.
Thanks ☺👍

Gabe said...

Liverpool are incrementally getting better at breaking down sides like these and life is good.