Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics

Things are so bleak at Liverpool right now that the vultures in the media are circling, ready to write their obituaries for the second Kenny Dalglish management era at Anfield.

The Guardian posted ‘Ten facts to put Liverpool’s dismal league campaign into context’ on Monday, and whilst the facts are not incorrect, I’m not sure that there’s enough of the context they speak of to paint a fair picture. Here are some examples:

“If the Premier League had started on New Year’s Day, Liverpool, with eight points from 12 games, would be 19th in the table, with only Wolverhampton Wanderers below”

Ouch. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? I’m not going to argue that it’s a good place to be in form-wise, but personally I think it’s important to remember that in that period of time the Reds have also beaten Manchester City away, and put both of the Manchester teams out of a domestic cup. Oh yeah, and won their first trophy for six years! Doesn’t excuse the recent league traumas, but neither are things quite as bleak as they are being painted above. What other damning statistics have they got for us?

“Liverpool have lost six of their last seven league games. The last time they endured such a poor run of form was in 1953-54, when they were relegated”.

No getting away with it, that is an appalling run. But they have endured a worse run of form (points wise) much more recently than 1954. In the 2002-03 season, Liverpool took only three points from a run of eight league games between November and January, and whilst it is true that less of the games were lost, that is still less points than they have accrued from their previous eight games this time around.

Also, the first half of this season was relatively good, so why is that not mentioned? For instance, the Reds only lost three of their first nineteen league matches in this campaign; whilst that’s not going to be record breaking at a generally successful club like Liverpool, it is better than the club has managed in seven of the previous ten seasons, and in a lot of those seasons they had a better squad than they have now.

“1953-54 was also the last time Liverpool had such a poor points per game ratio in the top flight (correcting the discrepancy of the old two-points-for-a-win system). Liverpool’s current points per game ratio is a lowly 1.35”.

Well, it was 1.25 under Roy Hodgson last season. There has not been as great an improvement as John W Henry and co might have hoped for in view of the amount they have invested of course, but Liverpool are still better than they were for over half of last season, never mind 1954. Similarly:

“Liverpool’s goal difference is +3. Liverpool have not had such a low goal difference at the end of a season since 1964-65, when it stood at -6”

It was -3 after twenty games of Hodgson’s turgid football, and he would have managed the same figure as the Reds did in 1964/65 had he continued along the same path for 42 games (as there were each season back in Shankly’s day).

Another stat doing the rounds, though not taken from The Guardian’s recent piece is:

“Liverpool have gone behind in 14 games this season and lost 78.6% of those games. Only Bolton, Swansea and West Bromwich have a more unimpressive percentage after falling behind in games.”

That doesn’t make for good reading, until you consider a recent tweet by Optajoe:

“69% – The proportion of Premier League games that are won by the side scoring the opening goal”.

So yes, Liverpool are below the all time average this season, but not by a huge amount. I will also point out that the Reds have only lost twice (out of twenty-three games) this season in all competitions when they’ve scored the first goal; I will be honest and admit that I have no idea how that compares to other teams, but two out of twenty-three can’t be too bad?

Liverpool are on a very bad run in the league, and I’m not trying to suggest otherwise. But is it really the worst period in fifty years or more as is being portrayed? I think not. Something tells me I will no doubt have to re-title this article “Volume One” at some point in the future when similar statistics start to do the rounds.

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

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2 thoughts on “Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics

    • True, but then I’m sure previous Liverpool teams have suffered them too. The twin loss of Agger and Leiva has had a colossal impact though, no doubt about it. Cheers for reading mate.

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