I wasn’t planning to do one of these for this match, but as there were some impressive stats from a very good Liverpool display I thought I would. The Reds played well in any context, but not least when considering the injuries they suffered both before and during the match.
There was a great line regarding this from Klopp at the end of his post-match interview on SKY. When asked about the games coming up with the horrendous injury list, he said “If we have eleven, we will fight”. They certainly fought well at Stoke, and here are a few key stats from the match.
Liverpool definitely caused their hosts the most problems in the opening forty-five minutes of the match. To put their first half attacking display into context, the most shots on target in a match by a visiting team at Stoke in the league this season is six, and the most shots in the box is ten. The Reds had four and seven respectively in the first half alone. The figures may have only moved to four and ten by full time, but the second half was more about battling for the result.
Jürgen Klopp’s men were also excellent when it came to breaking up Stoke’s passing moves. Liverpool average fourteen interceptions per league game this season, but they made seventeen in the first half alone, and twenty-four in total.
Adam Lallana was the top creative force with five chances set up for colleagues. That’s a pretty remarkable return from him considering that he averages 1.5 chances per ninety minutes played in the league. He and Roberto Firmino linked up to create three chances at Stoke, which is somewhat surprising as they’ve only set up one chance as a duo in the league all season. Let’s hope we see this combination more from now on.
Firmino himself shot (seven) or created (three) ten of Liverpool’s sixteen shots in this match. Only one of his shots was on target though, and he never really looked liked scoring (aside from when Butland’s clearance rebounded off him, that is!).
Joe Allen got four assists for Swansea in his one season with them in the Premier League, yet it has taken him 109 matches to register that many for Liverpool, as he logged his fourth in this match. Did he even mean to pass to Ibe? You decide.
Lucas Leiva is currently ranked third across the big five European leagues for tackles per game this season, with 4.8. Whilst he ‘only’ made four at the Britannia Stadium (which as an average would still be top ten in Europe), he also made five interceptions; the top interceptors in Europe average around 4.5 per game, which helps put his defensive performance in this match in very impressive context. He had to shift from midfield into the defence during this game too, don’t forget.
Liverpool may have only won thirteen of the games’s thirty-six aerial duels, but they did win seven of the nine in the two penalty boxes (5/6 in their own box, and 2/3 in Stoke’s). This may no longer be the battering ram Stoke of Tony Pulis, but winning those headers may prove pretty vital once the tie is over.
Probably my favourite stat from the match is that Simon Mignolet’s pass accuracy was only 22%! All but one of his thirty-two passes were long, but only six of those long balls found a teammate. The Belgian gets a lot of stick for his distribution, and rightfully so at times, but far more importantly in this match he kept a clean sheet and he made four claims, which is a tally he’s only bettered three times in the league this season.
In a rollercoaster season, this won’t be the most eye catching of results, but it was certainly a tremendous performance from an injury ravaged Liverpool side.