On the face of it, the headline stats suggested that this was a fairly even contest. You wouldn’t expect to lose a match 3-1 when you’ve had 61.5% of the possession, created seven chances to your opponents’ six, had an equal number of shots on target (four), and only three fewer shots in total. Yet looking deeper into the numbers reveals where the issues were.
Let’s start with the possession figure. The issue here is where exactly that possession took place; whilst Liverpool attempted 221 more passes than Hull, in the final third the Reds attempted just thirteen passes more than their hosts.
37.2% of the Tigers’ passes were in the final third where they could (and did) hurt Liverpool, whereas the Reds only had 25.2% of their passes in the attacking third. They seemed content to retain possession in their own defensive zone, and Hull understandably had no issue with that. This can be seen when looking at the pass combination stats.
However, we can also note that none of them featured any of the Reds’ front four players. It has to be a concern that the third most common combination was from the goalkeeper to the centre back who is not comfortable on the ball.
In the absence of Daniel Sturridge, it was imperative that the Reds got the ball to Luis Suárez but it didn’t happen enough. It’s interesting to note that whilst Lucas was the top passer to Suárez with nine (only two of which were received in the final third), Coutinho was next with eight (with six in the final third) and the latter of the two Brazilians only played the final twenty-four minutes.
Perhaps if he had been fit enough to play the whole match the result might have been different, as he created the Reds only open play chance in the centre of the box, and also completed the Reds’ joint most final third passes (fourteen) in his cameo appearance.
Then again, perhaps not. Liverpool were simply out-thought and out-fought all over the pitch. As I noted in my preview of the match, Hull had made the second fewest tackles at home in the Premier League this season, yet they nearly doubled their average against Liverpool (25 as opposed to 15.3 per game previously).
Similarly, for a team that averaged 10.3 interceptions per home game before the Reds came to town, it was quite remarkable to see them make twenty-five on Sunday. The Tigers’ chart of tackles and interceptions shows how they covered the middle of the pitch well, and five tackles in their own box is not to be sneezed at either.
That’s not good enough, and the Reds fared little better in an attacking sense either.
I can’t recall a match where a team failed to find a team-mate with a single one of their crosses, but that’s exactly what Liverpool managed to do at the KC Stadium. Considering that they were playing with two wingers/wide forwards, this is a damning indictment of how poorly Moses and Sterling played.
The above map of ‘take ons’ is little better, and is another example of a headline stat not showing the full picture. Liverpool completed eight dribbles compared to Hull’s five, which initially sounds okay, yet the hosts only attempted twelve to the visitors’ twenty four, and as you can see, the Reds were unsuccessful with all five that they attempted in the Hull penalty box.
The aerial duel stats told a similar story. Liverpool won twelve of twenty-eight, which isn’t a disastrously poor effort, but as the chart here shows, they only won one of the six that took place in either penalty box.
Half of the Reds’ aerial wins were in wide areas, with five of the six being in their own half, so they weren’t exactly the most important battles on the day.
I usually finish with a Star Man, but nobody really earned the right to be called that. I’ll credit Coutinho for the reasons I mentioned above, but he barely played long enough to make a real impact on the game. Hopefully that’s not the case against Norwich City on Wednesday.
Recent and related posts you might like:
Everton 3 Liverpool 3: Stats Zone Analysis – Picking the numerical bones out of a frenetic and fantastic Merseyside derby.
Brendan’s Bottom Half Beatings – It turns out that regularly swatting aside the Premier League minnows is not as easy as Rodgers makes it look.
Better With The Ball? It’s Just A Shot Away – A look at who shots on target affect results. Certainly more than possession does, Brendan…
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.