14 May 2018

Visualized: Liverpool 4-0 Brighton

Previous Match Infographics: Chelsea (a), 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. 

When Liverpool do games like this, it's hard to think of a Liverpool side I've enjoyed more. After a month with too much worry, at least in the league, we got good Liverpool back.

The attack finally returned to its former face-stomping form.

Liverpool rolls in a must-win game, the final league match of the season, the last match at Anfield in 2017-18. Even with ever-present James Milner out, the first time he's not been in the squad since January 2017. Even with a different formation, the first time we've seen 4-2-3-1/4-2-4 since December.

Mohamed Salah scored in a league game for the 24th time this season and in any game for the 34th time; 24 out of 36 league games played, 34 out of 51 games in all competitions. Mohamed Salah scored against a 17th different Premier League side; no player's scored against more teams in a single Premier League season. Mohamed Salah is the first player to outscore three English top-flight teams, with more goals than West Brom, Huddersfield, and Swansea.

Mohamed Salah finally broke the record for goals in a 38-game Premier League season. Mohamed Salah opened the scoring, the 17th goal he's scored with Liverpool level.

Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson both scored their first goals for Liverpool, the 17th and 18th different players to score for Liverpool this season.

Liverpool's 22 shots were their most in a league match since beating Swansea 5-0 back in December. Liverpool's +20 shot difference is tied for second-most in a league match this season, behind +30 in a draw with Burnley and equal to +20 in the draw with Everton, both matches featuring must more desperate shots as Liverpool chased a result. Liverpool's 17 Danger Zone shots were a high for a Liverpool league match this season. Liverpool had more clear-cut chances than shots from outside the box.

21 of those 22 Liverpool shots came with less than an hour gone; Liverpool's only shot after the 58th minute was Robertson's goal. 19 of those 22 shots came between the 19th and 58th minutes; 19 shots over a span of 39 minutes, nearly a shot every two minutes.

Unsurprisingly, goals followed. This was the 25th time this season that Liverpool have scored three or more goals in a match. They did so 14 times last season, 13 times in 2015-16, and only six in 2014-15. Only the 2013-14 Liverpool side scored more Premier League goals than this season's.

And, to complete the package, Liverpool were again stingy at the back.

When Liverpool have been at their best, it's been at both ends of the pitch. Only Huddersfield took fewer shots against Liverpool in a league match this season, with just one in Liverpool's 3-0 win at Anfield back in October.

Yesterday saw Liverpool's 17th clean sheet in the league, the highest total since Benitez left. Liverpool had 12 last season, 11 the season before (with three of them under Rodgers).

In the 29 matches since the embarrassment against Tottenham at Wembley, Liverpool have conceded the fewest goals in the league, one less than City (while only scoring four fewer) and two less than United.

It's truly been a group effort. Yes, Virgil van Dijk's made a massive difference, as has Robertson cementing his place at left-back, Karius claiming the keeper job, and Alexander-Arnold's improved form with increased minutes. And this defensive run began before any of those features truly took hold.

It's weird how Liverpool finally brought it all back together when finally having a week between matches after the fast and furious last month.

Players need recovery time to play Jürgen Klopp's style at its best. Especially the front three, so reliant on pressing and pace. And, yes, this highlights Liverpool need for better squad depth, reliant on key players to be fit. Especially the front three.

These were the types of games that Liverpool needed to win more of last season. It's not as if 2016-17 Liverpool were bad in these fixtures, but there was still 3-4 Bournemouth and 2-2 West Ham and 1-2 Palace and 2-3 Swansea and more regrets against sides that Liverpool should be beating than there have been this season. Beat the dross, win the league, etc.

Liverpool were not good against their top-six rivals and mediocre against relegated sides, but very, very good against the middle-to-bottom tier.

Or, put another way, very good against the bottom half, less so against the top half.

But season-long eulogies can wait a little longer. More important for the immediate future was what Liverpool did on Sunday.

Liverpool's players were good, from front to back, in a slightly unfamiliar formation. Liverpool won, convincingly, in a must-win match, the last of the league campaign, after failing to win the previous three. Liverpool's win sealed a Champions League place for the second season in a row.

And Liverpool's win sets themselves up nicely for a Champions League final in two weeks' time.


Tom - said...

Love the stuff. Think your model is out of whack for karius’ passing completion pie chart though.

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