Liverpool have scored nine counter attacking goals this season; almost as many as they have in the past four seasons combined.
As I understand it, via @DanKennett, the statistical definition of a counter attack is a ‘fast break situation’, though exactly how this is measured I don’t know; there is definitely a subjective element to this. For instance, here’s a two minute fan video entitled ‘Liverpool Counter Attack Football v Arsenal’, yet officially Liverpool only had three shots from counter attacks in the match.
What is even stranger in my opinion is that Raheem Sterling’s first goal in that match (which you can skip straight to in the above video via this link) was not counted as a counter attack. Liverpool won the ball from the Gunners near the centre circle and had the ball in the net eight seconds later; how is this not a counter attack? It’s a prime example in my opinion, so the stats in this piece should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt.
(EDIT: Since writing this blog I have had a response regarding why the Sterling goal was not considered to be a counter attack:
In fairness, that explanation does make sense. I assumed as it was a fast break after dispossessing Arsenal that it should have been counted, but it is fair to say that the Gunners were not attacking as such at the time).
Here are the player stats that I could source via WhoScored. Although Liverpool have had twenty-seven shots via counter attacks this season, unfortunately I haven’t been able to find who was responsible for all of them. Here’s what I could determine.
There are probably few surprises in these tables; Liverpool’s most prolific shooter has had the most shots on the counter, and the silky skills and clever passing of Coutinho have made him the most frequent creator of break away shots.
As I’m sure you’re wondering, here is the list of which games have seen Liverpool score a counter attack goal, and who was responsible:
If you’re familiar with Liverpool’s fixture list this season, it probably won’t have escaped your attention that the majority of these goals have occurred in the second half of the campaign, and it’s not just true of goals but counter attack shots too.
After eleven shots and two goals in their opening twenty league games, the Reds have had sixteen attempts and seven goals in their last fifteen matches. Bear in mind that Liverpool have scored four counter attacking goals in their eleven game winning run; as many (if not more) as the club have managed in any of the last four full seasons, and as many (if not more) than any other team in the 2013/14 Premier League. The ability to counter attack has been an important cornerstone of Liverpool’s recent title charge.
It’s also worth noting that the Reds have only allowed eight shots from counter attacks this season, and just the one (at home to Aston Villa) in the second half of the campaign. Only Manchester City, at the Etihad Stadium, have managed to score against the Reds on the break this season, and even that required a defensive error by the Liverpool goalkeeper. Considering that the ‘Pool have long had a reputation for being too open, it’s pleasing to see that they have rarely been hit on the counter this season.
As I noted in my Chelsea preview, the Blues are likely to defend deeply at Anfield, so Liverpool may need to rely upon counter attacks once they have drawn their visitors towards Simon Mignolet’s goal. The stats certainly suggest that the Reds are capable of punishing Chelsea in this way.