Why Liverpool’s Audi Cup performance matters

The outlook is positive for Liverpool

The Reds lost the final of the pre-season tournament on a penalty shootout to Atletico Madrid, but played well overall.

It would be foolish to read too much into a good performance in pre-season, right? Well, maybe, but maybe not too. There is evidence that a strong warm up to a campaign can lead to a team performing better than they did in the previous season.

Lest we forget, Liverpool beat Barcelona 4-0 at Wembley last summer. They then went on to record their best opening half season in the Premier League era. ‘Correlation vs causation’ and all that, but if a handsome pre-season win achieves nothing more than a shot of confidence ahead of the real business, then that’s still no bad thing.

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Rodge and Hodge – A Little Context

I was lucky enough to be at Anfield yesterday to watch Liverpool draw 1-1 with Newcastle, and doubly lucky enough not to be soaked by the sprinkler!

It was my first opportunity to see a Brendan Rodgers team in person, and in truth the match panned out as I expected. I had tweeted prior to the match that the Reds had given away the 2nd fewest shots at home in the Premier League this season, whilst having the 5th most themselves, and whilst on the day Liverpool dominated possession and had more chances, they were not creative or clinical enough to secure the win.

Overall though, I’m still satisfied with how Liverpool have been playing this season, even if the results haven’t matched the performances. I was still surprised however to read that Brendan Rodgers has bagged fewer points from his opening ten league games in charge at Anfield than Roy Hodgson did in 2010/11.

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Brad Jones: Liverpool’s Number One?

Australian goalkeeper Brad Jones has not had it easy since he moved to Liverpool in 2010 for a fee of £2.3m. He has only made nine appearances for the club in just over two seasons, he made his debut in a disastrous cup defeat to League Two Northampton Town, and off the pitch he suffered the tragedy of losing his son Luka to leukemia last year.

Yet as Pepe Reina picked up an injury during the last round of international fixtures, Jones has been thrust into the spotlight at Anfield, and to be fair to the former Middlesbrough man he hasn’t disappointed as he has picked up two clean sheets out of two. But does he deserve to displace his Spanish colleague, and actually be Liverpool’s number one, rather than the substitute goalie who happens to wear that particular numbered shirt?

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Who’s The Ref?

Before virtually any game of football nowadays, but especially before a significant match against a major rival, fans will always ask the above question.

But does it matter? Do any of them appear particularly pro or anti-Liverpool? This article will provide you with the stats, but you will have to make your own mind up; the main thing to remember when reading this is that there is no way to prove any bias on the part of referees, and this is not an attempt to do so. This has been compiled as people have shown an interest in the figures following a number of online articles about refereeing recently, and is intended to be taken for the light-hearted (albeit statistically accurate) piece it is.

To assess the refs, I have looked at three statistics: penalties, yellow cards, and sending-offs, both in favour of and against Liverpool. Of course, a big part of debating a referee’s performance is arguing over the “that was a nailed on penalty, ref” calls; the ones that got away, in other words. Needless to say, statistics on things that don’t happen are thin on the ground, so we’ll have to make do with what I have been able to track down.

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Defenders Of Our Faith

A first for Basstunedtored – a guest column! Andrew Fanko (who you can follow on Twitter here) takes a look at the defensive records of Liverpool’s current back-four combinations, and wonders if a previously untried pairing should get a run out…

Liverpool have already conceded 20 goals in their 13 competitive games so far this season, which is an average of 1.54 per game. You have to go back to the dark days of Graeme Souness and the 1992/93 season to find such a porous start to a campaign. We shipped 27 goals in the first 13 games of that season, including four at home to Chesterfield!

In the 19 interim seasons, the Reds have conceded an average of 11.6 goals in their first 13 games, which in itself is a per-game average of just 0.89 goals. So we’re conceding 0.65 more goals per game than we’ve been used to over the last two decades.

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Back Four Blunders, And Why They’re Happening

Liverpool finally got their first league win of the season at Carrow Road on Saturday, as they thumped five past hapless Norwich City. However, they maintained their average of conceding two goals per Premier League game this campaign at the same time, as errors by Reina and Skrtel enabled the Canaries to have a little something to chirp about.

Sadly for the Reds, whilst Suárez and co. bought their shooting boots along for once, the mistakes at the back were par for the course so far this season. A closer look at the figures shows just how much worse Liverpool have been defending when compared to last season.

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Striker Light: Send For Gerrard?

Whilst no Liverpool fan would particularly wish to re-live the horrors of transfer deadline day, the fact remains that the club is facing something of an issue regarding its striking options (and that’s putting it mildly). But could the answer to their problems already be on their books?

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Patience Required

Whilst I’m a frequent advocate of football fans showing patience (be it towards a newly assembled side, an under-performing £35m striker, or following a narrow, undeserved defeat), following Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Sunderland my plea is for the Liverpool team and their star striker to show more patience themselves.

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Joe Allen: £15m Bargain

Joe Allen picked up his second man of the match award of the season in Liverpool’s 2-0 defeat by Arsenal on Sunday. Whilst that might be damning him with faint praise (the “best of a bad bunch”, and all that) after a poor showing by Liverpool, there is no denying that he has settled instantly as the indispensable heart of the Reds’ midfield.

Using EPLIndex’s Top Stats function, I have looked at where in the league Allen currently ranks on a number of key stats for midfielders. As it’s early days for the 2012/13 campaign, I have restricted the comparison to those players that have played all 270 minutes so far.

At present, Joe Allen is ranked:

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One Point From Nine, But Too Early To Panic

After a disappointing 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal, it’s natural to wonder if Liverpool are going to be challenging for European spots at all this season. The poor performance at the end of the transfer window hasn’t done the club any favours either.

The Reds were poor going forward today, but if you look at their starting front six, and how many league appearances they had made for Liverpool prior to today, it perhaps begins to become clear why. If you exclude Gerrard from the figures, it’s frightening: Continue reading

Liverpool Summer 2012 Transfer Review

Now that the transfer window has closed for another four months, lets take a look at Liverpool’s dealings. Regular readers will know I tend to focus on the positive, but hopefully the below provides a balanced view on the various deals that have taken place at Anfield this summer.

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Flat Track Failures

This piece first appeared on The Tomkins Times on 24 August 2012. 

Fellow Tomkins Times subscriber Neil Mundy recently wrote an interesting piece looking at how important a team’s performance against the other top sides is if they wish to finish in the top four, or win the league.

Using statto.com‘s Group Comparison function, I have looked towards the other end of the table in order to try to establish how relevant a team’s record against the bottom seven cannon-fodder is. As Liverpool’s primary aim this season will be to finish fourth, I have focussed my research here.

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Who Is Samed Yesil?

Samed Yesil has today signed for Liverpool, moving to Anfield from Bayer Leverkusen. The young German striker will no doubt bide his time in the reserves to begin with, but the sight of fellow eighteen year old Adam Morgan in the line-up for the Reds match with Hearts tonight will no doubt give him some encouragement that he can make a first team bow sooner rather than later. As I had not heard of him previously myself, I looked up his figures on Transfrmarkt.

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Walcott To Liverpool?

As rumours circulate that Theo Walcott is refusing to sign a new deal at Arsenal, so people begin to speculate where he might end up if he left north London.

Having looked at his key stats from last season, and compared them with those of Liverpool’s squad, I’m beginning to think that I would like him to move to Anfield. Based on the numbers at least, he could improve the Reds in several areas.

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The Trouble With Statistics

Following a very disappointing 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on the opening weekend, Liverpool got their first point on the board for 2012/13 with an impressive performance in yesterday’s 2-2 draw with Manchester City. But for a suicidal back pass by Martin Skrtel, the Reds were looking good for a win over last seasons Premier League champions.

Yet to look at some of the key statistics from the two matches, you would think that the better performance of the two came at The Hawthorns last week, not at Anfield on Sunday.

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Nuri Sahin – Welcome to Liverpool

Liverpool have today confirmed the loan signing of Nuri Sahin from Real Madrid for the 2012/13 season. Whilst his last campaign was blighted by injury (he only appeared four times in La Liga), in 2010/11 he was the Bundesliga player of the year as his Borussia Dortmund side won the title.

WhoScored posted some of his stats from that season earlier this week, and they compare very favourably with those of his new teammates at Anfield.

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Reds Show Some Improvement Against WBA. No, Really

I didn’t see Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat at The Hawthorns yesterday (perhaps fortunately), but for a bad loss there were certainly some encouraging statistics.

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Daniel Agger – The Interceptor

As rumours continue to circulate that Daniel Agger will be the subject of a £22m (or thereabouts) bid from Manchester City, the new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is faced with his first truly difficult decision regarding the Reds’ first team squad.

Does he try to convince the club’s finest defender to stay on Merseyside? Does he cash in whilst Agger is at his maximum value in order to fund team rebuilding? Or would Rodgers be selling an injury prone player whose fitness can’t be relied upon? As with most things in football, there are currently more questions than answers.

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Passing Progress

Liverpool concluded their pre-season preparations for the 2012/13 campaign with a 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen at Anfield on Sunday. Whilst I missed the game myself, I saw some very interesting and encouraging post-match tweets from @AnfieldIndex:

LFC Vs Leverkusen Total Passes: Total: 613 Accurate: 549 Accuracy: 89.56%

Comparing the above stats with Liverpool’s figures from last season illustrates how much more of the ball they’re now having.

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Jamie Carragher – 700 (and counting) Not Out

This piece originally appeared on The Tomkins Times on 3rd August 2012. Researched via LFCHistory.net.

On the 8th of January 1997, Liverpool went out of the League Cup with a whimper, losing 2-1 away at Middlesbrough. Three weeks before his 19th birthday, Jamie Carragher made his Liverpool debut as a substitute that night, ensuring that a forgettable match has subsequently been added a sheen of importance in the history of Liverpool FC.

Fifteen-and-a-half years, plus another 699 appearances against 114 different teams, and the boy from Bootle is now second in the all-time appearance list for England’s most successful football club, and top of the club’s European appearance list with an amazing 140 run-outs. I’m sure no-one at the Riverside on that chilly winter evening would have predicted that.

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