I wasn’t planning to write anything this week so I’ll keep this very brief. When Norwich equalised at Anfield on Sunday, I noted the following about their goal:
By the end of the match, they’d only had one further effort from inside Liverpool’s penalty box (compared to the Reds’ tally of fourteen shots in theirs) yet headed home with a point.
The problem is, this is far from an isolated case.
On the whole, Liverpool don’t concede many shots from inside their box. Last season the Reds allowed 5.7 shots per game in their box, which was the third fewest in the Premier League, and this has essentially remained constant at 5.8 in these early weeks of 2015/16. This is undoubtedly a good thing, and demonstrates that the Reds often defend well for huge sections of their matches.
The problem is, too often the opposition score with all or most of their box shots.
Manchester United had just three shots inside the box against Liverpool both at Old Trafford last week and at Anfield in March. Had Mignolet not saved Rooney’s penalty six months ago, the Red Devils would’ve scored with all six of their shots in the Liverpool box across the last two meetings. Regardless of that, they have two wins and a 5-2 aggregate score line from just six shots in Liverpool’s penalty area.
Going back over more of the last fifteen league games, Stoke only had five shots in the box but famously won 6-1, Hull won 1-0 despite only having four shots from eighteen-yards-or-closer, and whilst QPR lost at Anfield thanks to a very late Gerrard winner, they nearly bagged a point off the back of just three shots in the Liverpool penalty area.
There are inevitably examples of the opposite of this (such as the Reds holding firm for a clean sheet at the Emirates this season in spite of ten Gunners’ shots in their box), but on the whole Liverpool concede too often when their opponents shoot in the box. Despite not letting them shoot in the box too often. Football, eh?
The average rate of conceding from shots in the box is around one in seven, so are Liverpool just on a bad run at the moment, or are there deeper issues at work here? Answers on a postcard, please.