After a frenetic, see-sawing Merseyside derby (which was Liverpool’s highest scoring league draw since the 4-4 with Arsenal at Anfield in 2009), I guess the most important facts from a Liverpool perspective are that they now have four points more than they had from the corresponding fixtures last season, seventy points from the last thirty-eight league games, and have only had more than twenty-four points from the first twelve games four times in the Premier League era.
Brendan Rodgers has now taken the same amount of league points (eighty-five) as Kenny Dalglish did in his second tenure, but in six fewer games. Overall, the Reds are doing pretty well.
I have shots on target (SoT) data for Liverpool’s 202 league games since the start of 2008/09, and the twelve shots on target that Everton had on Saturday is the most by any opponent in that time. Ten of those twelve occurred after the fifty-second minute; in other words, at a time when the Reds should’ve been protecting their 2-1 lead, they were far too open.
I found it surprising that Rodgers took Lucas off after 79 minutes; five of Everton’s shots on target happened after this, as well as half of their total of eight in the box, which suggests he was certainly missed. Although the Brazilian did give away some costly free-kicks, I thought he played pretty well overall, and his dashboard backs this up.
So although Liverpool conceded a record high number of shots on target, a sizeable chunk of them were down to Rodgers twisting for a win by bringing on Sturridge, rather than sticking for a draw with Lucas.
Liverpool did also at least have five shots on target themselves. The Reds’ SoT difference of -7 is ‘only’ their third worst figure since August 2008. For the record, Liverpool posted -8 when losing 4-0 at Spurs in 2011/12, and -9 when beaten 2-0 by Chelsea in Rafa Benitez’ final home game as Liverpool manager. Liverpool’s TSoT% of 29.4% against Everton was poor, but they have had thirteen worse performances on that front since the start of 2008/09.
I think that, essentially, Liverpool got a point because they converted 60% of their shots on target. The average in the Premier League is 30%, and the Reds have only bettered a 60% conversion eighteen times in the previous 201 league games (or 8.9% of the time) so it’s a pretty rare occurrence.
This match also showed the value of shots on target from the centre of the box, as the below chart shows. We can see that Everton converted three of their four, and Liverpool scored two of their three.
The total number of shots in the box was pretty even (10-9 to Everton) and Liverpool actually had the most in the centre of the box (8-5). Too many of the Toffees’ efforts were in wide areas, which aided Simon Mignolet, but more on him shortly.
One telling stat from this match is that although total possession was virtually even (50.7/49.3%), Everton had 59.5% of the final third possession. The below chart of the final third passes also shows that the majority of the Reds’ successful passes were in wide areas, whilst Everton were more successful in the central zone in front of Liverpool’s penalty area, which enabled them to have as many shots on target as they did.
The amount of SoT that Liverpool give away at the moment is in danger of developing into quite a problem; I learned via @oilysailor that the Reds are allowing 5.3 shots on target per game this season, which is up from 3.7 in 2012/13.
Fortunately for Brendan Rodgers, Simon Mignolet has now saved fifty-one of the sixty-four shots on target that Liverpool’s opponents have had, whereas Pepe Reina only saved forty-two of the first sixty-four he faced last season.
As an aside, the Belgian ‘keeper also created a chance for the first time this season, from which Suárez might’ve won the match for Liverpool at the death.
Suárez might not have scored on that particular occasion, but he and Sturridge both netted in the match and now have a total of twenty-four goals from the nineteen games where they’ve been on the pitch at the same time (at a rate of one strike every sixty minutes). Liverpool as a team score every thirty-seven minutes when both of the aforementioned marksmen are playing, so it’s a shame that Sturridge wasn’t fit enough to play the whole match.
The major post-match talking point seemed to be the amount of goals that came from set-pieces in one game, not least as Everton had yet to concede any goals from dead ball situations in the league this season prior to the match .
Liverpool are currently set piece outliers at both ends of the pitch, in different ways. The Reds have scored 14% of their shots from set pieces (seven goals) and conceded 13% of their opponents’ (five goals), when the league average conversion rate from set plays is 9%. At least Liverpool’s set piece goal difference is +2 I guess, but points are frequently being lost due to their failure to deal with these situations defensively.
Brendan’s boys actually defended crosses pretty well on the day; only three of Everton’s twenty-two crosses were successful, and two of those were going very much away from goal as you can see with the blue and yellow lines here:
Similarly, the Reds generally handled the aerial prowess of Lukaku well on the whole. He only won five of his twelve aerial duels, though of course one of those (and one of the accurate crosses, marked in yellow above) resulted in the third goal.
I saw lots of people after the match questioning why Glen Johnson was assigned Lukaku on set-pieces. It surprised me to learn that no Liverpool player has won more aerial duels per game than their England international right back this season.
Of course, this doesn’t mean it was the right decision to put him on Lukaku (and like with all stats, context is key; most of Johnson’s duels won’t have been with players as strong as the big Belgian) but I thought it was an interesting stat all the same, and does at least suggest that there may have been some logic to the plan.
As usual to finish a Stats Zone analysis, a quick look at my star man. There’s one clear choice this week, not least in view of how much online criticism he receives before he even plays, and it’s Jon Flanagan. Here are his dashboards:
The young Scouser put in a fantastic shift, making an incredible fourteen tackles, and perhaps more importantly considering how rash he has looked at times in the past, he didn’t commit a single foul in the process.
Not only that, but he made one of Liverpool’s four ball recoveries in the final third, as well as their only interception in the same zone, and no player on either side made more tackles or interceptions in total than the makeshift left back.
With Enrique out until February, Flanagan has certainly done enough to retain the shirt for the Reds’ next match, away at Hull on Sunday. Hopefully Liverpool won’t concede as many shots on target in that match, and can dominate the final third, which should enable the in-form SaS to fire the Reds to three more points.
Recent and related posts you might like:
Merseyside Derby Stats Preview – I predicted a low scoring draw, based on the stats. I got half of the prediction correct at least!
Brendan’s Bottom Half Beatings – It turns out that regularly swatting aside the Premier League minnows is not as easy as Rodgers makes it look.
Better With The Ball? It’s Just A Shot Away – A look at who shots on target affect results. Certainly more than possession does, Brendan…
LFC Pass Combination Heatmaps 2013/14 – A look at which players have been most involved pass-wise, and who they’ve linked up with in every league match this season.