31 January 2019

Visualized: Liverpool 1-1 Leicester

Previous Match Infographics: Crystal Palace (h), Brighton (a), Manchester City (a), Arsenal (h), Newcastle (h), Wolves (a), Manchester Utd (h), Napoli (h), Bournemouth (a), Burnley, Everton (h), Paris St-Germain (a), Watford (a), Fulham (h), Arsenal (a), Cardiff (h), Red Star Belgrade (h), Huddersfield (a), Manchester City (h), Napoli (a), Chelsea (a), Southampton (h), Leicester (a), Brighton (h), Crystal Palace (a), West Ham (h)

Match data from WhoScored, except average position from the SofaScore app. 

Well that was a kick in the teeth. A return to earth. An infuriating result.

And Liverpool didn't even lose.

After Liverpool's win over Crystal Palace, I spent two paragraphs waxing lyrical about how Liverpool have often been lucky this season. So I guess this is only fitting. My bad.

It is easy to complain about Martin Atkinson. It is easy to write that Liverpool should have had at least one penalty if not two: Keïta obviously clipped by Ricardo, for sure, but also when Maguire shoved his forearm into Mo Salah's throat when blocking off his run through the box.

And then there's Maguire again, hauling down Sadio Mané when potentially through on goal, a caution rather than dismissal, mostly likely because of the distance to goal even though it appeared a clear scoring opportunity.

And then there's Maguire again, popping up for Leicester's equalizer literal seconds before the halftime whistle, five minutes after he could have seen red.

It is too easy to complain. Which also makes it easy to overlook the things that Liverpool failed to do.

This was a bad attacking performance. As in really, really bad.

Only Manchester City held Liverpool to fewer shots and a lower xG total at Anfield this season. This is only the third match where Liverpool have failed to take at least one clear-cut chance, after that City match and the 1-0 win at Huddersfield.

Leicester are the first non-Big Six side to hold Liverpool to ten or fewer shots at Anfield since Everton back in April 2017. And I suspect you remember that Merseyside Derby. Liverpool, scoring early then conceding to give Everton hope, but then 3-1 up after an hour and barely taking a shot afterwards, another hilarious derby where Everton think they can think they can think they can and then get put back in their box.

That wasn't quite the same as yesterday's match.

It's the stretch without shots that does me. That spell between the 7th and 74th minute, where Liverpool took just one of their ten shots. Three from the first to the sixth minutes, including the goal, where Liverpool looked on pace to romp, then six from the 74th through the 90th, futilely pushing for a winner despite a paucity of good openings. 67 minutes, with almost half of them when the score was level. One shot: Mo Salah from just inside the box immediately blocked.

But it is hard to take shots when you can't get the ball inside the penalty box.

For all those final third passes, there sure ain't a lot into the box. Or, more accurately, there sure ain't a lot of completed passes into the box.

This is not the first time we've complained about a paucity of shots and difficulties in creating them, the aforementioned 1-0 at Huddersfield, as well as the 1-0 Brighton most notably. There have been a lot of narrow wins won not because Liverpool blew their opponents away but because Liverpool didn't concede. And the opposition's had chances in more than a few of those narrow games: Groß's clear-cut chance saved against Brighton, Mahrez's missed penalty against City, Hogg hitting the woodwork for Huddersfield, missed clear-cut opportunities by Fulham, Everton, and Newcastle with the score still at 0-0.

The law of averages demands that Liverpool be punished sooner or later, pretty much no matter the opponent. And Leicester still needed Keïta's block to fly directly to Chilwell, and Chilwell's header to find Maguire, onside by less than a yard, to get their goal, having missed an earlier clear-cut chance as so many opponents have missed against Liverpool.

To be fair to Leicester, they've already beaten both City and Chelsea this season. Only Everton, Chelsea, Liverpool, and City allow their opponents fewer shots per match. They've still got a team full of players who've won the league. They've got Claude Puel as manager, with a record of 3W-4D-2L against Liverpool, most memorably with four matches unbeaten in charge of Southampton in 2016-17.

And to be fair to Liverpool, it's January 31st and this was Liverpool's first dropped points against a non-top five side. In match 24. Which, coincidentally, has not been a good match for Liverpool in previous seasons.

It's not quite nothing lost, nothing gained. But since Manchester City did similar yet worse a day before – scoring within a minute but giving it away, conceding twice to Liverpool's once – it is as good a time as any to drop two points that Liverpool probably shouldn't have dropped.

Dropped points happen, in crazy circumstances. Every season. That it's taken so long is a credit to this Liverpool side, as much as they've frustrated, as much as this frustrates.

The rest of the season depends on how Liverpool react to these dropped points.


Anonymous said...

i think that this game just shows that liverpool can't play without a proper right-back. everything just becomes too congested, especially against leicester, who are very good defensively.

Lfc10 said...

Excellent response and observation, Nate

Anonymous said...

Saw that even simple actions like matip on vardy is taken as a yellow. Is it even a foul as Matip was getting his leg out of the way but vardy just barged through, without any contact I might add. There goes our opponents. And how in the case of Leicester the game and pitch suited their flourish.
Little things matter in a match of such margins, our faltering attack and the snowy pitch. But as usual I dislike it when our draw/loss is influenced by decisions taken unfairly towards 1 side.
Watching it again it’s so wierd how nothing happened in that twilight period.
shaqiri was probably not in his element. How the various positions made it less cohesive in our forward play is up for debate. But I sure noticed how they played with safety with their passing.

Anonymous said...

For all the talk about Var being the leveller of fairness. Will it really be defining because how many would question supposedly trivial decisions like a linesman called offside. Like how a couple of times mane was actually online which would leave someone to tap in at the post. Or when a foul is not a foul. When referees are especially fond of calling our foul, and inconsistently too.
I came across how gerrard mentioned in his autobiography that he just disliked Atkinson. If you recall gerrard came on and got a red 14s later after a foul on herrera.

Will naby still play if he can run at West Ham.