05 February 2019

Visualized: Liverpool 1-1 West Ham

Previous Match Infographics: Leicester (h), 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. 

Liverpool go 1-0 up early through Sadio Mané, and are probably fortunate to do so. But then, under a modicum of pressure but still against the run of play, Liverpool unnecessarily concede possession. And unnecessarily concede a free kick. And unnecessarily concede an equalizer. And then Liverpool spend the rest of the half and the rest of the match futile and frustrated and unable to restore their lead.

It happened against Leicester on Wednesday. And now it happened at West Ham yesterday. Two matches in five matches, the same exasperating pattern of play with the same exasperating result.

Groundhog Day was last Saturday. But, still, don't forget your booties cause it's cold out there today.

So, yes, Liverpool have conceded five in the last three games, first letting in three against Palace before one each against both Leicester and West Ham. Liverpool had only conceded in back-to-back league games twice before this stretch this season. Now they've conceded in each the last three, at arguably a very bad time to do so, against sides currently placed 14th, 11th, and 12th.

And the two goals conceded in the last two games were both regrettably bad goals: both set plays, both creative in breaking Liverpool's usually excellent offside line. Those were just the second and third goals conceded this season from free kicks, with the other in the League Cup against Chelsea back in September. And it's not as if it was a fluke each game: Rice should've buried another free kick in the 42nd minute, Noble and Chicharito also had free kick chances in the 38th minute, and Leicester nearly got a second from a free kick last week when Alisson thankfully denied Firmino's own goal.

It's not encouraging. But I still focus on the fact that Liverpool won the match where they conceded three and have now drawn the two where they only scored once. Once again, Liverpool lives and dies by its attack. And we ain't been living much lately.

Ten shots against Leicester, none a clear-cut chance. 11 shots at West Ham, with only Mané's offside goal a clear-cut chance.

Via FiveThirtyEight:

That's a massive discrepancy in shot-based and non-shot xG. Which means lots of possession but no venom. 73% against West Ham, 72% against Leicester. 21 total shots. Two total goals, the first with some help from a Leicester deflection to set up Mané, the second with Milner very, very offside in the build-up.

Liverpool have had a tougher time getting shots – any shots – lately. Which hasn't really happened since the adjustment after switching to a primarily 4-2-3-1 system a few months ago.

Liverpool's shots in the last five games? Seven in the loss at City; ten in the narrow, decisive-penalty 1-0 at Brighton; 19 against Palace; and the aforementioned 10 and 11 in the last two. Oh, right, Palace remains the odd game out.

That said, at least Liverpool put the majority of their mediocre shots on-target. 55%, vastly better than the Leicester match, or previous narrow wins such as Brighton or Everton. That usually bodes well. Liverpool don't necessarily need a lot of shots to win, or win big, when the front three are doing their usual front three things. The side scored three and four from ten shots at Watford and Bournemouth respectively, five goals from 15 shots against Arsenal. But it sure helps, especially when clear-cut chances are at a premium as well.

You have to perfect, or lucky, or both, when you're not getting the opportunities you're accustomed to. At both ends of the pitch. And for the most part, Liverpool were when similar happened earlier this season. For the most part, Liverpool have been all season.

Again, there's a bit of "here we are with all these problems, top of the league." And it's not as if West Ham and Leicester are bad teams, both near the best of the rest even if the table still suggest otherwise, with West Ham having already held Chelsea and beaten both Arsenal and United on their ground this season.

But you can't help the feeling that it could be more, it should be more, and we'll be sat here ruing that it wasn't more in a couple of months.

There's still the specter of previous title challenges. Especially 2008-09, and 1-1 draws with Everton and Wigan right around this time of year, having led the league through December and early January but those two draws taking Liverpool out of top spot.

And what could have been a seven-point gap with Manchester City is now three. They'll have the chance to go top on goal difference, albeit with a game in hand, on Wednesday.

Now is the winter of our discontent. How long it lasts will decide how this season finishes. Let's hope a groundhog sees its shadow soon.


Anonymous said...

These 2 draws are really wierd. Earlier on it might just have finished 1-0 for both. Surely can’t be a title decider. It does halt our momentum though and make it seem like we are losing the plot. Although we do have players out and our style seems muted. Really need the front 3 to be firing and the midfield to keep it ticking over. The way we have conceded and how we have let the opponent take advantage of our weakness is the sore point but we just have to fix it and keep working at it. The confidence to bring all our efforts and energy to the matches to come with the resources we have. Figure out how we have to play and go for it. No more crestfallen draws. Regain the all knowing composure and calm tenacity. You could see the uncertainty of the movement and passes which probably can’t be helped due to the shuffling around. The boys really have to step it up and achieve more than what they have in reserve. The rest aren’t going to roll over. Wish some of these mid table teams would maintain that intensity against our rivals. I think rival players and fans have stated that it will be good to topple lvpl. Coming from back is much sweeter and all that s$?t. At least we have some leaders that can help push on some of the players resolve to rise up to the challenge of going for it. Klopp also knows what they have to do. Just gotta do it on the field. It’s exciting though with the Chance this wkend to get it right (we have been waiting!) and then onto Bayern and manu for feb’s Onslaught. Truly is a tremendous run this season for the top rung and turning out to be a seismic title race. You just know it will come alive...

Lfc10 said...

I think we can safely conclude the referees and linesmen are cuck. Just got to press on and the players cannot get distracted in this title challenge. Perhaps having Sian Massey would help.

Yeah I believe those free kick chances came from players like snodgrass or Hernandez falling over. Our second halves are usually when we got stronger.

We can’t win it all. Just do so some way or other for these remaining matches.

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