There has been a fair bit of online teeth-gnashing following Liverpool’s disappointing 0-0 draw with Swansea City at Anfield on Saturday.
The logic seems to go that if the Reds can’t beat promoted sides at home (Norwich City also took home point recently don’t forget), then they can probably forget about making the qualifiers for next season’s Champions League.
Although Liverpool are second in the league in terms of the number of shots that they have had at the moment, the team’s shooting conversion rate, which is currently 7%, is only joint fifteenth best in the Premier League. Clearly not good enough for a team chasing a top four finish.
I read recently that if their conversion rate was 17% (the amount of shots that both Manchester clubs have dispatched into the net so far this season), then Liverpool would have 33 goals instead of the 14 they have in reality. Quite a difference, clearly.
All very good in theory, but how realistic is a 17% conversion rate for Liverpool? Take a look at this table, which shows the team’s success in front of goal over the last three seasons:Unfortunately, Liverpool were nowhere near close to a 17% hit rate even when they finished second in the league with peak-era Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard (on his way to winning the Footballer of the year award) banging the goals in, so it is unrealistic to think “what if they scored goals with 17% of their shots?” for this season’s Reds men.
Perhaps a little strangely, the conversion rate across the last three league campaigns is exactly 10.00% on average. This, therefore, is a more sensible figure to use for a “what if?” look at the season so far.
What if Liverpool had converted 10% of their shots in each league match this season? How would this affect the results?
In the table below, I have calculated how many goals they would have scored in this theoretical situation. It’s important not to view this as a serious statistical analysis, more a lighthearted look at what might have been. As it’s impossible to score a fraction of a goal, all figures have been rounded down.
Bear in mind, by rounding down the part goals, the team still only has 14 goals (rather than the 19 that a 10% conversion rate would give them), but by using an average it has obviously given them a better spread of scoring. In reality, in some games you score and some you don’t; the team’s rate has ranged from 15% against to Bolton down to 0% when obviously they have not scored.
It’s also hugely important to remember that this is all very theoretical, and no team could possibly score with a set percentage in each match.
But at the same time, I think this proves how close Liverpool can be to achieving their primary aim for this campaign. They had a total of 54 shots against Norwich and Swansea after all; not stretching it to say they should have won both games comfortably.
Put your shooting boots on properly Reds, and you might just make the Champions League yet.