It has been widely noted that Liverpool have been crossing the ball more frequently during their recent poor run of form, and whilst looking at which teams crossed the ball most last weekend, I happened to notice that all three of them lost. For the record, this was Stoke and Crystal Palace, alongside Liverpool, and I used a purely arbitrary figure of at least thirty crosses excluding corners.
I wondered if teams that had crossed lots this season often had poor results, and it turns out that they have. The following table shows the twenty-five occasions so far in the 2016/17 Premier League that a team has attempted at least thirty crosses (not including corners).
The teams crossing at least thirty times have amassed just nineteen points between them, at a rate of just 0.76 points per game, and it’s interesting that it has not just been the struggling sides who have had to resort to this; Liverpool and Manchester City appear on the list three times, and Manchester United four.
What is clear when reviewing the matches in question is that there has often been an air of desperation about the team doing all the crossing. United were behind against both Boro and Stoke before claiming points late on, and similarly claimed an injury-time winner at Hull. Manchester City were battered at Leicester and humbled at home by Chelsea. Liverpool were behind in three matches they’d have expected to win; at home to West Ham and Swansea, and then away at Hull. The likes of Bournemouth, Everton and Palace were all behind until late on, claiming a share of the points in the last ten minutes. Stoke were 1-0 down at West Brom inside six minutes and spent the following eighty-four trying to cross their way to an equaliser which never arrived.
And on it goes. I’m not suggesting that crossing will directly lead to a bad result of course (Southampton had thirty crosses in their comfortable home win over Burnley, for instance), but if your team is struggling in a match and sending in a truck load of crosses, don’t be too surprised if they fail to win. No one likes it when you appear desperate, do they? It appears that bad results lead to frequent crossing, not the other way around.