30 May 2018

Liverpool Goals Scored and Conceded 2017-18

(Here are similar versions from 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, and 2015-16, 2016-17.)

There is a lot of good in here. Unsurprisingly.

Liverpool scored at a goals-per-game clip that we haven't seen since 2013-14, when – yes, Virginia – Liverpool nearly won the league.

But, for a second, I don't even care about goals per game. I care about goals. And 135 goals is a shit-load of goals. Liverpool have never scored 135 goals in a campaign before. Yes, I know that the amount of games played makes this moot in comparison to other high-scoring seasons. I don't care. I absolutely love goals. We saw 135 of them this season. Every single one was a damned treasure.

Both Salah and Firmino broke the template I had for individual scorers in that section, the first not-Luis-Suarez Liverpool players to score more than 25 in a season since Fernando Torres a decade ago. This is the first time that Liverpool have had three 20-goal scorers since 1981-82. That was 36 years ago. I wasn't even alive yet, barely. I don't know if that makes me feel better about this season or worse about my age. That it's only now happened twice in Liverpool's 125-year history, however, makes me feel better about this season.

Danger Zone goals? Great, tons of them, a higher proportion than usual. In position to score, actually scoring. More clear-cut chances than last season, a higher xG per shot than last season. Outside the box goals? A reasonable amount, although fewer than last season when Coutinho did a lot of Coutinho-ing. Penalties? Joint-fewest since 2011-12, and please don't look up that season, it hurts, it actually still hurts.

However, Liverpool's goals conceded average hasn't really gotten better. It's gotten worse, at least in all competitions. Let's dig slightly deeper.

First, the last time Liverpool conceded fewer than 40 goals in a league campaign was 2008-09. Nine seasons ago. Rafa Benitez's penultimate season. When Liverpool finished second.

That seems a good thing.

As with last season, Liverpool got better – or, at least stingier in defense – in the final third of the season, and with less of the eminently frustrating winter of our discontent. Not only did Liverpool concede fewer during the fixture-packed December and January, Liverpool were actually really good at scoring over said time frame as well. Unlike last season. A slightly deeper and more well-round side (although clearly not enough by the end of the campaign), better luck with injuries, and better use of said squad by the manager.

Plus, defending set plays has gotten a lot better!

There, obviously, remain concerns. Again, goals conceded, even if it was better than it seemed and improved over the course of the season. The heavy reliance on the front three, who scored more than 67% of Liverpool's goals.

And that timeline of goals scored and conceded.

Liverpool are really good in the middle third of halves, as the press pushes the opposition back and into mistakes, as the front three increasingly builds terror in the back-line. Liverpool are reasonably good at the beginning of halves, especially the second half, for similar reasons – although there's still too much of a propensity to concede in the opening 15 minutes. Liverpool are a lot less good at the end of halves, especially the second half, as the press slows and the side tires.

Good lord, stoppage time.

There's some garbage time in there. There's some "it doesn't matter, Liverpool were going to win/lose anyway" in there. But there's also 3-3 Watford, 3-3 Sevilla, and 2-2 Tottenham. There's also the unnecessary heartburn in the home league match against City and the away leg at Roma.

Liverpool's goals in the 90th minute or stoppage time? 7-0 Maribor, 3-0 Maribor, 2-1 Burnley, 2-1 Tottenham, 3-0 Bournemouth. Three dead rubbers, one winner, and one should-have-been-winner-but-wasn't. Not quite the same effect.

However, not counting Roma, all those matches came in the first week of February or earlier. Also known as, "hey we've signed van Dijk Robertson and Alexander-Arnold are hitting grooves and Karius has established himself as the number one goalkeeper" time. Six of the nine goals came before the end of the November.

Like with set plays conceded, like with clear-cut chances allowed, this is getting better and this has gotten better.

Like with Liverpool as a whole, it's getting better and has gotten better.


Julian said...

These season-ending posts are amazing and I love them.

Mark said...

Another fantastic year for this blog. Thanks for offering this to the world!

Anonymous said...

Love your season stats, Nate.