Liverpool’s Defensive Issues

After another two points were dropped yesterday against Norwich City at Anfield, a lot of the focus was on the wasted chances. Twenty opportunities were created (double the amount as in the recent matches with Everton and Manchester United), but the Reds only found the back of the net once, and paid for it when substitute Grant Holt equalised for the Canaries.

I have covered the chance conversion issue previously here. Whilst it is clearly still a problem, the team is having difficulty at the defensive end of the pitch too.  After all, you can afford to miss a few chances yourself if you can be confident of registering a clean sheet, but unfortunately for Liverpool, that’s not the case at the moment.

Take a look at the table below:

Whilst the percentage of chances conceded that have resulted in goals is lower than it’s been in any of the previous three seasons, the interesting thing here for me is the correlation between chances conceded per game and clean sheet ratio:

It might seem obvious that the two things would correlate, but it’s still fascinating to see that this is very much the case.

It becomes clear that Benitez had his defensive tactics spot on, though having a team featuring Alonso, Mascherano and peak-era Carragher wouldn’t have harmed either of course.

The chance creation rate for the Reds, currently at 12.8 per game on average, is the highest it has been since 2008/09 (14.6 per game) when they nearly won the league, so it’s clear that some defensive solidity has been sacrificed for a more attacking style.

Which is fine in theory, but with chances going begging up front, Liverpool could really do with tightening up at the back. Only two clean sheets this season, both attained when the opposition have had a man sent off, is not good enough for a team with Champions League aspirations.

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

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