Jürgen Klopp has taken just one point from his two league games at Anfield so far, and this is mainly due to conceding a late set piece goal in both matches. I thought it would therefore be interesting to see how Dortmund fared with dead ball situations to see if we can expect any change to his fortunes with Liverpool.
The following table shows how many set piece goals Liverpool have scored and conceded from set-pieces since 2009/10. The stats are taken from WhoScored, so don’t include penalties, and as a guideline to a good or bad performance, Premier League average is around eleven set piece goals per team per season, with approximately 8.5% of the shots being converted.
I discussed Brendan Rodgers’ tenure on a recent Anfield Index podcast (which you can listen to here), and noted how set-pieces contributed hugely to Liverpool’s success in 2013/14, and the above table illustrates that point perfectly. The club’s record at both scoring and defending set pieces has been pretty consistent over the last six years, but it seems that their allowance of set piece goals for the last two seasons were mostly front loaded into the first of those campaigns. At the tail end of the 2013/14 season I wrote (here) that the Reds should expect a downturn in set piece goals the year after and, sadly, so it proved.
After one third of this season, the Reds have scored three and conceded four set piece goals, so it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise for Liverpool to register their usual figures of around ten-to-twelve goals at both ends at the pitch this season.
Unless Klopp can make a difference that is. What does his record from Dortmund suggest might happen? Here are the same stats as in the above Liverpool table, though bear in mind that clubs play four fewer games each season in Germany.
It’s a shame that figures from 2008/09 aren’t available, as it would be interesting to see how Klopp got on in his first season with Dortmund. What is fascinating here is that much like Liverpool, Dortmund scored a massive haul of set-piece goals in 2013/14 before seeing a drop off the year after, and it can’t be complete coincidence that both sides went from second in the table to outside the top five from the first of those seasons to the second.
Unlike Liverpool, Klopp’s Dortmund team appeared to be far more erratic from year-to-year when defending dead ball situations. It’s worth noting that BVB conceded only six and seven set-piece goals on their way to claiming back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012, so we can only hope that Klopp can bring similar standards to Anfield. Or was it just a mixture of natural variance and luck; they conceded a whopping seventeen set piece goals in 2009/10, so were surely due some regression to the mean?
The more I look into set pieces, the more I think there is a lot of luck involved with them, and it’s very difficult to overachieve on them consistently year-after-year. But we can see here that Klopp has at times had a superb record defending set pieces, and rarely had a worse season than Liverpool did (particularly in the last five years), so let’s hope we start seeing evidence of this during his time with the Reds.