Which Teams Are Best At Defeating A Parked Bus?

Liverpool’s win against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend was obviously well received by Reds everywhere, but at the same time it didn’t teach them anything new about the strengths and weaknesses of their team. Jürgen Klopp’s men have been ruthless this season against teams who play a high line, as Spurs did to suicidal effect at Anfield, but they have seemed toothless against the low block favoured by the Premier League’s lesser lights.

The Tomkins Times published a very good article this week (here) which looked at how Liverpool have fared against teams who have ‘parked the bus’ against them this season. The findings were certainly interesting, but in my continual quest for context with statistical analysis, I thought it would be worthwhile comparing the Reds to the other members of the big six to see how each team has fared. My assumption is that all teams struggle against a low block, but is that actually the case?

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Analysis: Liverpool 1 Swansea City 0

I didn’t see this match, so this will be brief. Liverpool had a top-level performance at one end of the pitch, and a bad one at the other. Let’s cover the good first, and my observation on this was prompted by this tweet:

Having looked at the data for this for the period since August 2012, it’s clear how rare this is; Liverpool have done this just once a season in the last three years. Here’s a table of the matches in question, and I’ve ranked them by an additional stat, opposition shots in the box:

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Race For The Top Four: An Analysis

I recently appeared on an Anfield Index Analytics podcast (which you can listen to here) in which host Dan Kennett and I ran through the pros and cons of the five contenders who are aiming for a third or fourth placed finish in the Premier League this season. As there is only one third of 2014/15 now remaining, I thought I’d share the stats and my thoughts here.

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Danny Ings: Why Liverpool Are Interested

Although no deal has as yet been confirmed, Liverpool are clearly looking to bring in Danny Ings from Burnley in the summer when his contract expires. As usual, I thought I’d take a look at his stats, and having done so I can definitely see why he would appeal to Brendan Rodgers.

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Glen Johnson Needs Shooting Practice

Although Newcastle’s winning goal didn’t occur for a further twenty seconds, the Magpies regained possession and began the move that lead to it following a blocked Glen Johnson shot from outside of the penalty box.

Ah, a blocked Glen Johnson shot from outside of the penalty box. If you’re a Liverpool fan, you can picture it perfectly in your mind; Johnson receives the ball in a wide area, cuts inside, and then shoots wastefully. Rinse and repeat, ad naseum.

Or is that actually the case? If you regularly read my work you’ll know that I like to investigate perceived wisdom, and Glen Johnson is the latest to receive the in-depth Bass Tuned To Red treatment.

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Liverpool vs Aston Villa: Stats Preview

As I’m compiling stats throughout this season for use in the Anfield Index Analytics podcast, I figured it’d make sense to use them to write match previews too. With only three games played, it’d be wrong to read too much into the numbers, but equally I think they show that Aston Villa haven’t been playing that well, despite being unbeaten and currently sitting third in the fledgling 2014/15 Premier League.

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Diamond(Formation)s Are Forever

In the first episode of the Anfield Index Analytics podcast (which I took part in, and you can listen to here), I mentioned that Liverpool have recently had a phenomenal record when starting matches with a diamond in midfield: seven wins and one draw from eight matches.

I was even more intrigued in the formation’s possibilities when I saw this tweet on Monday:

Optajoe Diamond

On the same day as the above tweet, England triumphed 2-0 in Switzerland by employing a diamond formation too, so it definitely seems to be the strategy du jour right now.

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Reds vs Blues: Shots On Target

Having recently taken a look at the transfer spending of the current Premier League top three, as well as reviewing their record with big chances, I thought it was time to look at how they have fared with shots on target. As Liverpool and Manchester City meet at Anfield this weekend, I will look at their stats in this article, and factor in Chelsea ahead of their visit to Merseyside in two weeks time.

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Liverpool, Shots On Target, and The Top Four

Ahead of this week’s Opta Pro forum, which I am very much looking forward to attending, I thought it would be interesting to revisit one of my favourite previous articles (‘Better With The Ball? It’s Just A Shot Away’) which looked at the relationship between shots on target and success.

Has the trend that I discovered when looking at data from 2008/09 to 2012/13 continued this season, and what does this mean for Liverpool?
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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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How Many League Goals Can SaS Score?

I must stress immediately that this is in no way an in-depth or robust statistical analysis. However, I ran some numbers on how many goals Suarez and Sturridge might score in the league this season based on their form so far, and as the findings made my mouth water, I figured they were worth sharing.

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Everton 3 Liverpool 3: Stats Zone Analysis

After a frenetic, see-sawing Merseyside derby (which was Liverpool’s highest scoring league draw since the 4-4 with Arsenal at Anfield in 2009), I guess the most important facts from a Liverpool perspective are that they now have four points more than they had from the corresponding fixtures last season, seventy points from the last thirty-eight league games, and have only had more than twenty-four points from the first twelve games four times in the Premier League era.

Brendan Rodgers has now taken the same amount of league points (eighty-five) as Kenny Dalglish did in his second tenure, but in six fewer games. Overall, the Reds are doing pretty well.

However…

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Liverpool vs Fulham: Chance Quality Preview

After a match up between two of the Premier League’s best teams for chance quality at the Emirates Stadium last weekend, this week sees teams at opposite ends of the spectrum meet at Anfield, when Fulham visit Liverpool on Saturday afternoon.

Although the Cottagers have been clinical in a couple of areas of the pitch, by and large their chance creation this season (both for and against) has been something of a horror show. The Reds will surely have enough in their armoury to win the match, and the below explains why.

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Better With The Ball? It’s Just A Shot Away

The original version of this article appeared in These Turbulent Times, and the stats (sourced from EPLIndex) were correct up to 29 March 2013. I’ve now updated it to include all of last season so that it covers 1,900 matches worth of data in total, and re-written parts of the article accordingly.

I have read a couple of very interesting statistics with regards to the bearing that having more shots on target (SoT) than your opponent has upon winning football matches. On 24th February, The Guardian advised us:

Of the 181 games won in the Premier League before last weekend, the team who had the most possession only won 103 – 57% in total. The team who had more shots on target than their opponents won 128 matches – 71% of the total.

Then this article, which used a larger sample of 987 matches, chipped in with:

Winning the SoT battle in non-drawn games, results in a team winning that fixture 71.73% of the time and losing the fixture 19.35% of the time.

It seems pretty conclusive; have more shots on target than your opponent, and you’ll win around 71% of the time (when excluding drawn matches). This isn’t in itself that surprising, but it’s valuable to be able to quantify it from a performance monitoring point of view all the same.

But a thought occurred to me; you could win the SoT battle by anything from one in a close game performance-wise to potentially any number (and for the record, Liverpool’s best figure since August 2008 has been twelve on two occasions). Surely accounting for this differential might provide an even better guide than simply who had more shots on target?

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