As I’ve recently had some positive feedback for my chance creation combinations work, I’m contemplating writing a piece on each match next season, rather than posting the figures for the whole season as I have been doing in this campaign. This is therefore very much a pilot, and all feedback will be gratefully received in the comments selection below.
Truth be told, this isn’t the best game to start this project on, but it’ll introduce the main things I’m going to be looking for. Long time readers will recognise the below chart, which shows the different pitch zones where key passes can be received.
Clearly Henderson was the key man in this match. The former Mackem created half of Liverpool’s chances, and played four of the six key passes that were received in the Newcastle box (as the below chart of Henderson’s chance-creating passes shows; yellow is the assist, with other chances in light blue).
One of the most surprising stats from the game is that Liverpool’s only chance-creating through ball, from a total of six attempted, was played by Dejan Lovren. It was certainly the high point of his passes to the final third, as we can see here. The red passes were unsuccessful…
This is the first chance that Lovren has a) created in the box, and b) created for someone other than Mario Balotelli this season, as Moreno was the recipient of this pass. On previous form though, it’s not likely to become a frequent combination.
I’d love to be able to report on the ‘big chance’ (“a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range”) combinations, but in the view of Opta, the only one Liverpool had in this match was when Sterling was presented with an opportunity following as mistake by a Newcastle defender.
Unlike Joe Allen, who pounced to convert another Geordie error, Sterling wasn’t able to. Jordan Henderson (yep, him again) was responsible for the cross that indirectly lead to Sterling’s big chance, and so the Reds’ most creative combination this season were very nearly responsible for yet another top quality goalscoring opportunity.
Finally, a quick look at Liverpool’s continued struggles with set plays:
The corner from Coutinho found Lovren in the centre of the box (and there’s far more on creating from corners here), and a free-kick from Henderson lead to a shot, but otherwise there were seven other set play passes into the Newcastle box that failed to find a Red. Still, the fact that the two that did reach a teammate lead to a shot is a positive, but Liverpool’s lack of set piece goals remains a constant problem.
That’s it for this pilot article. As I said before, all feedback welcome, and especially suggestions for other things to look at it. Cheers!