After my first attempt at analysing a match via Stats Zone two weeks ago, I’ve again taken to the app to cast my critical eye over Liverpool’s 2-2 draw away at Swansea City.
Although I am happy enough with a point, as it maintains the Reds’ five point advantage over their corresponding fixtures from last season, there were many areas of the performance that left a lot to be desired.
A lot of the post match online chatter has pinpointed Coutinho’s injury-enforced exit in the 55th minute as the moment that Liverpool ceased to exist in the match as an attacking force, but the truth is that the rot had set in long before that, as the below chart shows:
All five of Liverpool’s chances that they created in open play were in the opening twenty-four minutes of the match, so the Reds went seventy-one minutes (including stoppage time) without fashioning a goal scoring opportunity that didn’t result from either a set piece, or Jonjo Shelvey.
It’s not a surprise that Liverpool failed to create anything in this lengthy period though, as following Victor Moses’ debut goal for the club (and more on him later), the Reds saw very little of the ball:
In fairness to Liverpool they were wise to Swansea’s main avenue of attack, and defended well on the whole. I noted on Twitter prior to the match:
40% of Swansea’s attacks, and 51% of their touches, have been in the middle this season, both PL highs. Big night for the
A quick look at Lucas’ defensive dashboard certainly implies that this trend was upheld:
It’s worth noting here that Lucas attempted seven tackles, which strengthened his position as the Premier League’s most frequent tackler this season, and he is also the fifth most frequent in Europe’s big five leagues this season.
Lucas is a vital component of Rodgers’ midfield, and thanks to a lack of specialist back up, any injury to him could prove as costly as it did for Kenny Dalglish in 2011/12.
But back to last night, and another hotly debated topic continues to be the passing and distribution ability of Simon Mignolet.
As we can see from the below chart, whilst his short passing was successful as were several of his punts to the flanks, his long balls down the centre of the pitch merely handed possession back to the Swans:
Is this lack of success through the centre down to poor kicking, or the fact that Swansea’s players are simply better in the air than Liverpool’s? No doubt the answer is probably a bit of both, but I don’t think it’s entirely Mignolet’s fault.
Using the chalkboards on the official Liverpool site, it’s interesting to note that the Belgian keeper started off three moves that resulted in Liverpool shots last night, playing the ball short each time. I have included two of them below; Mignolet is represented by the 22 in the orange circle:
The first one is interesting as the Belgian stopper receives the ball from Andre Wisdom (47) outside his box, and successfully plays a cross field pass to Jose Enrique (3). In the second example, Mignolet claims the ball, before running to the edge of the area and finding Wisdom, which ultimately starts another attacking move.
This is not to say that the former Mackem is some kind of creative genius, or that his passing doesn’t need work (as it evidently does as his main passing diagram illustrates), but it does perhaps imply that he can be comfortable on the ball if his teammates are able to provide him with a suitable outlet. It’s certainly something to watch out for in future, as passing seems to be the only area in which Mignolet lags behind Pepe Reina.
My Stats Zone star man this week is the on loan forward Victor Moses, and I’ll explain why after you view his attacking dashboard:
- He scored with his only shot in the match.
- Moses created three chances in open play, which is as many as the world’s top creative talents average, and two of them were into the central area of the penalty box.
- He completed three dribbles (a.k.a. ‘take-ons’), all of which were in the final third, and he is now joint-eighth in the Premier League for successful dribbles per game this season.
- Moses also made one of the three interceptions that Liverpool made on the night, and it ultimately resulted in him scoring his goal as he seized upon Shelvey’s loose pass.
To finish, a quick look at Liverpool’s chance quality stats for the season so far (and please read this if you need an introduction to my ‘chance quality’ system):
Another reason that Moses should be man of the match; he went straight to the top of the chance quality chart! Meanwhile Coutinho has now gone a surprising 260 minutes without creating a goal scoring opportunity. The other things to note from this match specifically is that Steven Gerrard created his first open play chance of the season, and Jordan Henderson assisted a shot for the third match in the row.
Up next for Liverpool it’s Southampton at Anfield on Saturday, and as the Saints have created more CBOs this season than the Reds have, the result is far from a foregone conclusion.
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