07 May 2018

Visualized: Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea

Previous Match Infographics: Roma (a), Stoke (h), Roma (h), West Brom (a), Bournemouth (h), Manchester City [CL] (a), Everton (a), Manchester City [CL] (h), Crystal Palace (a), Watford (h), United (a), Porto (h), Newcastle (h), 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. 

It happens.

It happens after European matches, especially as the season's gone on. And it doesn't help that three of Liverpool's five away matches against top-four rivals came after one of those European matches, all three ending in losses.

It happens in away matches against Top 4 rivals. All season long.

This is all sorts of yikes. There are caveats – red card at City, mistakes at Tottenham, five crazy minutes at Arsenal, no referee luck at United, that Liverpool were all but perfect and incredibly lucky in these matches last season. The matches at City and Tottenham make these stats, especially the opposition's, look a lot worse than maybe they should. Sample size, etc. But still. Yikes.

It happens in matches where Liverpool have a ton of possession. At least it's less than previous seasons, but it's still too often. There are matches where Liverpool push and push and push and make the breakthrough, but there are still 0-1 Chelsea and 0-0 Stoke and 0-1 Swansea and 0-0 West Brom, etc etc etc. And it's odd to see away matches against both Chelsea and United on this list.

It happens when eight of Liverpool's 11 starters yesterday have played more minutes than they did last season, some very much so, and especially in the front three. Henderson, Gomez, Can, and Matip are all past their totals from last season as well – the first two by a lot, the latter two despite missing the last month – while Oxlade-Chamberlain was on pace to pass his before his knee injury.

And it happens when Liverpool struggle to involve the three players who've pretty much single-handedly won loads of matches this season.

It's because of work load. It's because of the lack of depth in both the front three and midfield. It's because certain sides are happy to sit deep and completely nullify space and pace – even good sides, and especially when good sides do it. It especially doesn't help if Liverpool concede first in matches like this – see 1-1 Burnley, 0-1 Swansea, 1-2 United.

Liverpool couldn't get the front three going, and when Liverpool can't get that front three going, Liverpool often suffer.

Firmino and Salah each took just one shot, despite Liverpool playing 60 minutes when behind. Mané took four, but none after Chelsea took the lead. Firmino's came in the third minute, the first of the match. Salah's came just after halftime, from nowhere and not close. Chelsea are now just the second league side to keep Liverpool from having at least one clear-cut chance in a match this season. Manchester City were the other, in Liverpool's 4-3 home win. Which makes no sense, but all sorts of sense when you remember it's this season's Liverpool.

Mohamed Salah's 34 touches and 22 attempted passes aren't exceptionally low compared to past performances, but it was his participation in dangerous areas – or, obviously, lack thereof – which made the most difference. Five touches in Chelsea's penalty area, through 90 minutes. Layoff, unsuccessful touch, unsuccessful touch, caught offside, tackled.

All that difference in possession, and Chelsea had more touches in Liverpool's penalty area than Liverpool had in Chelsea's.

Liverpool just could not get into Chelsea's penalty area. And Salah's usually the player to do so. Because that's what Chelsea do, especially when they get an early-ish goal.

And that's pretty much the alpha and omega of yesterday's match. 0-0 probably would have been more representative of how the match played out, but it doesn't work like that. There are fine margins, especially with Liverpool's squad size, Liverpool's fatigue, and Liverpool record in matches like these.

And Liverpool, in conceding once and failing to score, or create one good opportunity, were on the wrong side of said margins.

It's not helpful to be on the wrong side of said margins this late in the season, with this much still to play for. But there are two matches left – two Champions League Finals, as Klopp put it – to save the world.