Should Coutinho Take Liverpool’s Corners?

I recently looked into whether Liverpool were better at defending set pieces this season (here), and the numbers suggested that they weren’t. The Reds then proceeded to let in dead ball goals against Hull, Swansea and West Bromwich Albion in three of their next four league matches. Either I might have a clue regarding what I write about on here, or I’m a jinx. You decide.

Anyway, that article was prompted by a John Aldridge column in the Liverpool Echo, and something he has said this week (here) inspired me to write another quick post. When talking about Liverpool’s performance at Crystal Palace, Aldo said:

The fact that we’ve found a corner taker is also a real positive. Our corners have been horrendous for a long time, I could never see us scoring from them. But Philippe Coutinho put in some really good deliveries and hopefully we’ll stick with him now… When we had Suarez and Steve Gerrard deliveries, you could see the percentage of goals getting knocked up.

Have Liverpool found a decent corner taker in Coutinho though? Or did the Reds benefit from some random variation at Selhurst Park?

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Analysis: Manchester City 1 Liverpool 4

Where to start with a result and performance like that? Fortunately there’s so many good stats to get our teeth into, that this should virtually write itself.

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Analysis: Liverpool 0 West Ham 3

As I waited for the game to start on Saturday, I flicked through the programme and came across the players’ stats.

It brought home to me how few Liverpool games that most of their players lining up in this match (and particularly those in key attacking positions) had previously played for the club.

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Analysis: Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0

Arsenal and Liverpool played out a very entertaining 0-0 draw on Monday night, though there was enough goal mouth action to have seen any number of goals.

Nobody would consider Coutinho and Benteke as a forward partnership in the conventional sense, but as the Reds created a very healthy twelve chances at The Emirates, I want to take a quick look at how the two attackers linked up in this game, and across the season so far.

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Analysis: Liverpool 1 Bournemouth 0

One of the things I thought I’d monitor this season is which players top the rankings for various stats in each Premier League match. Against Bournemouth, Coutinho became the first player in 2015/16 to have eight shots in a game.

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Coutinho to Sturridge – Liverpool’s Best Creative Partnership?

Any Liverpool fan you talk to will wax lyrical about the magic of the Coutinho-Sturridge partnership, and how the Brazilian will be setting up chances galore for the England international when he finally returns from injury.

Has this actually been the case regularly in the past though? Everyone remembers fantastic assists from Coutinho to Sturridge against Newcastle, Fulham, Everton and Arsenal, but what’s the chance creation story for their whole time together in the Premier League?

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SLiCk: How Liverpool’s New Front Three Interact

On the 6th December, Liverpool hosted Sunderland at Anfield, and laboured their way to a 0-0 draw in which they only had two shots on target. Rickie Lambert lead the line that day, with a threesome of Sterling, Lallana and Coutinho (can you see where SLiCk comes from now?!) behind him.

The match was Liverpool’s twenty-second of the season, yet it was only the sixth time that this trio had appeared on the pitch at the same time. Now that they’ve played together in the Reds’ last five games, with impressive results, I thought I’d take a quick look at the impact they have had and how well they have linked up.

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Hull City 3 Liverpool 1: Stats Zone Analysis

On the face of it, the headline stats suggested that this was a fairly even contest. You wouldn’t expect to lose a match 3-1 when you’ve had 61.5% of the possession, created seven chances to your opponents’ six, had an equal number of shots on target (four), and only three fewer shots in total. Yet looking deeper into the numbers reveals where the issues were.

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Swansea 2 Liverpool 2: Stats Zone Analysis

After my first attempt at analysing a match via Stats Zone two weeks ago, I’ve again taken to the app to cast my critical eye over Liverpool’s 2-2 draw away at Swansea City.

Although I am happy enough with a point, as it maintains the Reds’ five point advantage over their corresponding fixtures from last season, there were many areas of the performance that left a lot to be desired.

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The Coutinho Conundrum

Probably my favourite stat from 2012/13 was the following:

In eleven of his twelve Liverpool starts, Philippe Coutinho either scored a goal or created a clear-cut chance

A remarkable level of performance from a twenty year old taking his first steps in English football. But a closer look at the stats (via EPLIndex) reveals one area of concern regarding Coutinho’s performances to date.

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Boxing Clever

A well-worn statistic that I often sprinkle liberally on here is that only one in forty-four open play shots from outside in the penalty box results in a goal. The vast majority of them are little more than ‘hit and hope’ efforts, in other words.

It’s all about being in the penalty box yourself, and keeping your opponents out, as a much healthier one in seven shots (excluding penalties) from within the goal area finds the back of the net.

Using data from WhoScored, I have been able to compile these figures for Europe’s top five leagues to create a ‘shots in the box difference’ (SIBD) metric. The good news for Brendan Rodgers is that Liverpool have performed exceptionally well at both ends of the pitch in this regard this season.

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