Second Half Swing, and Fine First Halves

The Stadium of Light, September 29th 2013. After eighty-eight minutes of the game, Liverpool still hadn’t scored a goal in the second half of any of their eight games in all competitions in 2013/14. Luis Suárez laid that record to rest before the game was out, but a common topic of conversation amongst Kopites in the early weeks of the season was Liverpool’s poor performances in the second half of matches.

After the Reds won the second half at Stoke 3-1 to take a 5-3 victory overall on Sunday, I thought I’d see how Liverpool have fared overall in second halves this season. They’ve certainly improved things in the last three months.

The below table shows the for and against tallies from the second halves of matches for the Premier League this season. The number in brackets after the team name is their current league position.

ImageConsidering that they gave the rest of the division an almost six game head start, Liverpool can be reasonably pleased that they now have the sixth best goals scored and goal difference figures.

But nobody mentions that this particular early season issue has gone now, do they? There’s always something else to grumble about, I suppose!

I wasn’t convinced that the lack of second half goals was a major issue personally, thanks to the fact that Liverpool were consistently performing in the first halves, and so regularly setting themselves up for victories.

One of my favourite (and most referred to) Optajoe tweets was when he revealed that the team that scores the opening goal in a game goes onto win it 69% of the time. Whilst it is unrealistic to expect a team to score first in every game, if they did they’d be looking at twenty-six wins on average, and a very fine season indeed.

Perhaps it was an intentional tactic from Brendan Rodgers all along? Fly out of the traps and hopefully get a lead, and focus on protecting that in the second half. Deliberate or not, it certainly happened, and whilst the second halves are no longer goal free, the Reds continue to dominate first halves like no other team in the division.

The below table shows the goal information for the opening forty-five minutes of games in the Premier League this season. This is far more relevant than a lack of second half goals, for the reason Optajoe outlined.

First Half Goals

Liverpool have scored six more first half goals than second placed Manchester City, and more than Arsenal and Chelsea combined! Rodgers’ men have been winning at half time in fourteen games so far this season, which is more than any other team in the league, and have gone on to win twelve of the matches and draw the other two. If ever stat demonstrated the value of starting matches strongly, this may well be it.

If the Reds can maintain this form, and maybe pick up a few extra second half goals, they can finish the season very strongly indeed.

Stats do not include Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2. Recent posts you might like:

Liverpool’s Chance Champion – A look at which Reds have created the most chances in 2013/14, and who has found the best areas most frequently.

The Time Is Now – Liverpool have started 2013/14 well, but their next five games (in mid January 2014) are key if the Reds are to finish in the top four. This explains exactly why that is.

The 39 Steps Part Two: Progress! – Victory over Hull City means Liverpool are seven games ahead of the last three years, and this article explains why.

2012 and 2013: Chalk and Cheese – Liverpool’s performance in the last two years could hardly be more different.

How Many League Goals Can Suárez Score in 2013/14? – This features a forecast table, which is updated after every match.

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.

Please check out my other articles, and follow me on Twitter or via Facebook. Thanks.

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3 thoughts on “Second Half Swing, and Fine First Halves

  1. Just to add to that, Beez – Liverpool have scored first in 16 of 21 so far this season in the league, winning 13, drawing 1 [Everton] and losing 2 (one of which had Howard Webb at his finest, and the other fellow Mancunian Lee Mason in charge disallowing perfectly legal LFC goals). Of the games Liverpool did not score first our record is a sombre D2 L3. If we keep these rates the same we should win 23-24 times during the season – usually enough to challenge for second but finish third (roughly 75 points).

  2. Pingback: PLCQ: Twenty Game Round Up | Bass Tuned To Red

  3. Pingback: Liverpool 2 Aston Villa 2: Stats Zone Analysis | Bass Tuned To Red

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