This page contains all of the pass combination heatmaps from this seasons league campaign, as well as relevant observations. All constructive feedback will be most welcome in the comments section below. The data has been compiled using Stats Zone.
Most passes made: Glen Johnson vs Fulham (H), 97.
Most passes received: Glen Johnson vs Fulham (H), 93.
Passed to every other Liverpool player in a match:
Steven Gerrard vs Crystal Palace (H), Hull City (A).
Lucas Leiva vs Fulham (H), Cardiff City (H).
Joe Allen vs Norwich City (H).
Jordan Henderson vs Hull City (H), Aston Villa (H).
Glen Johnson vs Aston Villa (H).
Received a pass from every other Liverpool player in a match:
Steven Gerrard vs Newcastle United (A), Hull City (A).
Philippe Coutinho vs Fulham (H), Hull City (H).
Lucas Leiva vs Hull City (A), Cardiff City (H).
Jordan Henderson vs Manchester City (A), Aston Villa (H).
Daniel Sturridge vs Aston Villa (H).
Top pass combination (one way): Glen Johnson to Jordan Henderson vs Fulham (H), 33.
Top pass combination (in total): Glen Johnson and Jordan Henderson vs Fulham (H), 60.
Swansea City (H): It’s worth looking at this page from Statszone; the twelve passes exchanged between Suárez and Sturridge resulted in four created chances including one assist. The partnership is truly forming… The twenty passes that Gerrard made to Skrtel have resulted in a fairly washed out look across the rest of the chart. Those two players, plus Henderson, all tied for most passes received, with fifty-five. This week, I have experimented with leaving out the ’0′s; let me know in the comments if you think this is better or not.
Fulham (A): Sturridge and Suárez exchanged fifteen passes in this match, which is the most they’ve managed this season. As many would’ve predicted, Liverpool had a lot of the ball in this one (and especially as they were chasing the game a lot), and there were twenty pass combinations that hit double figures. If we exclude injury-time sub Daniel Agger, then Henderson made and received a pass with every other one of his colleagues.
Arsenal (H): I compile these every week, but this really doesn’t do a 5-1 win against the league leaders justice. The top two passers, Henderson and Flanagan, also exchanged the most passes (twenty). Although Suárez only made three passes to Sturridge (and received none back), two of them created goalscoring opportunities. You can see an in-depth analysis of the opening twenty minutes of this match here, and it includes a heat map for that period.
West Bromwich Albion (A): The most important pass of the game will not show up on here; Toure to Anichebe for the equalizer. For the second game running, Flanagan to Coutinho was the top pass combination (albeit they had to share the honour with Gerrard to Skrtel here). The figures here suggest that Gerrard was on the back foot more often than not, as he made thirty-four passes to Mignolet and the defence, compared to just seventeen to the rest of the midfield and attack. Considering that Coutinho received the most passes for the time he was on the pitch, it’s very disappointing that he failed to create a chance for the third time in four games.
Everton (H): If pass combinations were the be-all-and-end-all, Liverpool would have lost this comfortably. I’ve been monitoring how many zeros there are amongst the starting eleven this season, and the twenty-eight in this match is the most so far this season. Lots of the team had little interaction with their colleagues, and it also looks strange how Flanagan passed to Coutinho sixteen times when there was only one other combination with more than half of that figure. The highlight for me? Luis Alberto creating two chances from just three passes (as you can see here).
Aston Villa (H): Jordan Henderson became the third player this season to pass to every player and receive one back in the same match, Johnson passed to all of his colleagues for the first time, and Daniel Sturridge received a pass from every other player on the pitch; the first striker to do so this season, and I’m sure most of us would’ve backed Suárez to take that record like most others in 2013/14. At first it seemed strange to me that Cissokho was involved in four of the top five combinations, considering how ineffective it was, but then I realised that Villa were happy to let him have the ball as they knew he’d offer little or no threat. In fact both fullbacks were blunt instruments; despite making the most passes on the day, Johnson created no chances in open play.
Stoke City (A): The figures suggest that the ball was shared pretty evenly amongst the team in this match, as the most common combinations only featured ten passes, and five of the team passed to all-but-one of their colleagues. Considering full backs, wingers and the goalkeeper almost certainly can’t pass to everyone, the above is worth noting. For the first time this season Luis Suárez received the most passes of any Red, which suggests to me that Liverpool were not too concerned with sterile domination in the centre of the park (though of course the 3-5 scoreline suggests that too!).
Hull City (H): For the first time this season, Simon Mignolet was responsible for Liverpool’s top passing combination, finding Agger eighteen times. Jordan Henderson made another first for the season; he passed to every other player for the first time. Steven Gerrard was also heavily involved; he only played thirty-one minutes yet passed to every player who played alongside him. Coutinho received a pass from every one of his colleagues, for the second time in 2013/14.
Chelsea (A): No two-way combination made twenty passes for the first time since Everton away. Liverpool’s three substitutes played a combined total of fifty-five minutes (including stoppage time), yet mustered just five passes between them; not the impact you were looking for I assume, Brendan? Alarmingly, Aspas became the first Red this season to fail to make a single accurate pass, albeit he only attempted two. Kudos goes to Lucas Leiva, for making fifty-three passes despite only receiving thirty-seven; an excellent nine ball recoveries and six tackles explains most of the difference.
Manchester City (A): For the first time this season, Henderson received a pass from every Liverpool player, which is a good indication of his increasing importance to the side, and indeed he made four passes in the build up to the goal. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Victor Moses only made four passes in his twenty-seven minutes on the pitch, and considering he was thrown on to help salvage the game, that’s far too peripheral. Sakho and Lucas exchanged thirty-nine passes, to record the highest total combination since the Fulham game, which was seven games ago. According to the info, both Cissokho and Lucas managed to pass to themselves somehow…
Cardiff City (H): Lucas Leiva passed to every player and received one from all twelve of his colleagues too, and this is only the second time that this has happened this season, after Gerrard achieved the feat against Hull City. For the fourth time in five matches, Mignolet’s top pass option was Liverpool’s left sided centre back. A trend may be forming… Although Johnson has been a little below par lately, he did make the most passes to Suárez on the day, and every single one of them was in the final third (as you can see here). Henderson was just behind Johnson on the Suárez front, and he did assist the Uruguayan twice in the process. Surprisingly, Hendo didn’t pass to Allen once, which is unusual for two midfielders.Tottenham Hotspur (A): You know my favourite single pass on here? Luis Suárez’ one pass to Jon Flanagan, which resulted in the third goal. I think it’s probably the sign of a good team performance when there isn’t a combination that particularly stands out; there were seven in double figures. For the second game running, Glen Johnson passed to himself somehow…
West Ham United (H): Coutinho was involved in the top pass combination for the second match running, though with Henderson as opposed to Gerrard as against Norwich, and the top one-way figure involved the Brazilian too, as he received fourteen passes from Joe Allen. Jordan Henderson passed to every player bar the goalkeeper, which I always like to see, and late substitute Martin Kelly was the only Red not to find the former Mackem with the ball. It may look like I’ve made an error with this one, but according to Stats Zone, Glen Johnson passed the ball to himself!
Norwich City (H): Joe Allen made a rare start, and promptly passed to every single player on the pitch. Gerrard and Coutinho were the top combination with 33 passes. For the second game running, Mignolet made fourteen passes to Liverpool’s left sided centre-back; a deliberate outlet ploy by Brendan Rodgers?
Hull City (A): Liverpool were very poor on the day, and the heat map hints at why. As I noted in my analysis of the match, we can see that there was far too much passing around at the back; I think a team will struggle to win when their top passing combination is between their right sided centre back and full back! Similarly, the fact that Sterling only passed to Suárez once more than he passed back to Mignolet shows how little impact he made on the day. Coutinho and Alberto were more involved, but it was too little too late from a Liverpool perspective.
Everton (A): It won’t stand out much on a heatmap, but the one pass from Gerrard to Sturridge was undoubtedly the most important on here as it resulted in Liverpool’s late equaliser. The captain also passed to every player bar the goalkeeper, and every player bar late substitute Sturridge passed to both Gerrard and Suárez. Gerrard to/from Suárez and to/from Johnson were the joint two top combos, with nineteen passes.
Fulham (H): As you’ve probably noticed above, a lot of new records for 2013/14 were set during this game. Not only that, but they were smashed; for instance, Liverpool’s top pass combination prior to this match saw 36 passes, but Henderson and Johnson exchanged 60 here. Five of the team (including Gerrard, Suárez and Sturridge) passed to Coutinho more than any other player, illustrating the Brazilian’s value to the team. Although the SaS only exchanged six passes (their fewest this season), one of them did create a goalscoring opportunity.
Arsenal (A): Nearly a quarter (8/35) of Skrtel’s passes went back to Mignolet, when the rest of the team only passed back to the keeper six times between them. Lucas on the other hand passed at least once to every other player except the goalkeeper – a much better way to do it! Aly Cissokho made just six passes in 45 minutes, which is very poor, and it was also a quiet day for the Suárez and Sturridge combo; they exchanged just seven passes in total. For comparison with other league games they’ve played in this season: Sunderland 15, Newcastle 12, West Brom 11, and Crystal Palace 9.
West Bromwich Albion (H): A slightly surprising top combo for this one, as Toure and Johnson linked up 35 times (so were just one pass shy of equalling the 2013/14 record), and no other combo made more than 18 on the day either. Johnson was substituted after 62 minutes too, don’t forget. Kelly (Glen’s replacement) exchanged six passes with Toure, suggesting the season record was there for the taking! Lucas was the most passed to and from, and that typified a fine display from the Brazilian.
Newcastle United (A): As you’d expect when playing half a match against ten men, Liverpool set quite a few seasonal pass combination records in this match (see above). Perhaps the most encouraging fact, from an attacking point of view is that Sturridge’s top link up, both to and from, was with Luis Suárez, and the pair linked superbly for Liverpool’s second equaliser. Other than that, it’s hard to draw too many conclusions here as the Reds had far more of the ball than would normally be expected away from home, thanks to the first half red card.
Crystal Palace (H): Kolo Toure registered the first pass combination in the twenties this season, linking up with Raheem Sterling on the right flank. Steven Gerrard became the first player this season to pass to every single other player who took part. Interesting to see that three of the defence’s top combo was to the player directly to their right; Enrique to Sakho, Sakho to Skrtel, and Skrtel to Toure.
Sunderland (A): Luis Suárez returned to the team and was straight away the most passed to player. He was most frequently found by Enrique (13) and Henderson (11), illustrating that the Uruguayan was drifting across the pitch from side to side. Sakho and Lucas also combined well, to the tune of 23 passes in total.
Southampton (H): Although the most common combination was Sakho to Moses, we can see that the on-loan Chelsea player was unable to do much with it, as his most common passes were back to either Sakho or Enrique. In only his second appearance (and first start) Sakho was the Reds’ most frequent passer, illustrating his comfort on the ball; no doubt his 91.6% pass accuracy in 2012/13 was one of his selling points to Brendan Rodgers. Considering how adept with the ball Daniel Agger is perceived to be, it was perhaps surprising to see that he made the most back passes.
Swansea City (A): The fact that Gerrard’s top combination was to Skrtel illustrates to me that Liverpool were being forced back in this match. The top two combos show how the passes went through the team; Sakho to Lucas, and Lucas to Coutinho. It’s clear from the pass numbers that Aspas did not link up as well as Coutinho, who he replaced when the Brazilian went off injured.
Manchester United (H): The top passer in the opening two games logged 82 and 70 respectively, but Gerrard lead the way in this match with just 44. The top link up was Skrtel and Agger, suggesting that they had time on the ball, and were happy to use it to slow the game down a little. Enrique and Coutinho also linked up well, as they had in the preceding match.
Aston Villa (A):Whilst the right wing prospered against Stoke, the top link up in match two was on the left, between Enrique and Coutinho (26 passes). Lucas Leiva was the most involved player pass wise, and his nine passes to Daniel Sturridge shows that the front man had to drop deep to get involved at Villa Park.
Stoke City (H): Glen Johnson linked up with Jordan Henderson well on the right flank, with their 31 passes being the top combination. Lucas and Gerrard were the overall focus in terms of making and receiving the most passes, and the skipper hit double figures with four of his colleagues.