Reds Show Some Improvement Against WBA. No, Really

I didn’t see Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat at The Hawthorns yesterday (perhaps fortunately), but for a bad loss there were certainly some encouraging statistics.

Last season, Liverpool made the joint most Final Third Regains in the Premier League, at an average of 3.32 per game. Yesterday they made a whopping eight, which is clear evidence that their pressing is improving even only a short while into the Brendan Rodgers era.

In the creativity stakes, the Reds averaged 2.4 clear-cut chances per game last season; they had three yesterday. That may not be hugely better, but it’s certainly not bad for a heavy defeat.

Against West Brom, Liverpool’s passing accuracy in the final third of the pitch was 83%, against an average of 70% in the last campaign. To give that a little context, last season Manchester City were accurate with 77% of their final third passes on their way to the title, whilst Manchester United averaged 76% as they finished second. If the Reds can keep that figure up, they’ll definitely have a good season.

Update 22 August 2012: I have conducted some further research, and Liverpool’s final third passing accuracy on Saturday compares well to the average for a top four side. The Reds attempted 155 passes and completed 128 for their figure of 83%; on average in the last two seasons, a Champions Leaue qualifying side has attempted 140 and completed 102 for a 73% accuracy.

In terms of ball retention, the early signs from yesterday are very positive. Liverpool lost possession on average 165 times per match last season, but yesterday they only did so on 133 occasions. As the number of touches was virtually identical (706 vs West Brom compared to 701 per match in 2011/12) that means their ‘touch per loss of possession’ ratio improved from 4.25 last season to 5.30 on Saturday.

Of course, not all of the statistics were better than last season (crossing accuracy, total chances created and shooting accuracy were all down), but I think some encouragement can be taken from the improvement seen in the above numbers. After all, Brendan Rodgers has barely had a chance yet to get his ideas across.

Pressing more, creating better chances, keeping the ball better and passing more accurately in the final third of the pitch. If they can manage all of that when losing 3-0, then there’s certainly hope for Liverpool this season yet.

Statistics sourced from EPLIndex. Please take a look at my other articles, a list of which can be found here. You can follow me on Twitter here.

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6 thoughts on “Reds Show Some Improvement Against WBA. No, Really

  1. Good positive post. I thought we were good in the first half and the first goal was against the run of play. After the two penalties we fell to pieces, but I think the players were shell shocked by the referee´s decisions. Will be tough against City, but we always raise our game against the top sides. In other news, if you´re into music, you can check out my Song of the Week blog. :) Cheers…

    • Thanks for reading, mate. Yep, important to try to stay positive – it’s going to take Rodgers a while to get going. The stats suggest we’ll have a greater control of our matches than we did last season, which has to be a good starting point at least. Just need Suárez to bang a few more goals in!

  2. fantastic statistics. Still think Liverpool can improve further but with better finishing they could be a decent side this season. bit of bad luck with the ref again.
    nichollssportblog.wordpress.com/football-2

    • FInishing was the problem last season, and it seems to have been once again on Saturday. Assuming the stats I mention are maintained (which obviously is a big shout at this point) then results will surely improve. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Pingback: The Trouble With Statistics | Bass Tuned To Red

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