Tactical Analysis: Liverpool 1 Southampton 0 | Lucas Leiva Stats

Tactical Analysis: Liverpool 1 Southampton 0 | Lucas Leiva Stats

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Liverpool defeated the newly promoted Southampton 1-nil, although their display was more convincing then the score-line suggested. The game wasn’t particularly difficult to understand, with Liverpool’s dominate display aided by the fact Southampton sat back and was sloppy. A headed goal by Daniel Agger just prior to half-time gave Liverpool the lead, although more should have followed.

Line Ups

The biggest inclusion to the Liverpool line-up was the return of Lucas Leiva. Lucas returned from a three month spell on the sidelines with a tear in his quad, that coming after missing the entire second half of last season with a knee injury. His return meant Liverpool’s midfield formation changed from two pivots (in a 4-{2-1}-3) to just the one (a 4-{1-2}-3). Also, Jonjo Shelvey played a role in the front three.

Southampton named an unchanged team from their 1-1 draw with Norwich mid-week. Lining up in a 4-4-1-1, Southampton sat deeper, allowing Liverpool to play out from defence comfortably and tried to remain compact defensively.

Liverpool’s Attacking Dominance

In an attacking sense, there were two keys to the first half – Southampton’s willingness to sit back and Liverpool’s willingness to get players into advanced positions. Liverpool has struggled in transition this season, getting caught with too many players (the fullbacks in particular) forward when possession is lost, however the return of Lucas certainly aided Liverpool when going forward, with the players knowing they would have adequate cover.

Almost immediately, this license to get forward was evident – with two chances coming within minutes of each other.

Example 1

The first chance, from a Steven Gerrard long ball to Suarez, led to a shot from Shelvey. It was clear the fullbacks were able to move forward to support, with Lucas shielding the two central defenders.

Example 2

Not too long later, Liverpool had another good chance, again with players breaking forward. Johnson received the ball in space and passed to Suarez who ran in behind the young left fullback Shaw. Johnson then broke into the box, along with Gerrard, Shelvey and Allen. Suarez’s cross found Johnson at the front post but Liverpool, with five players in the box and Sterling lurking just outside, could not convert.

As previously stated, this freedom to get forward was aided with the return of Lucas, who, despite appearing slightly rusty in his first game back, was solid defensively and also in possession. His tackling and passing statistics highlight Lucas’s importance to Liverpool, he is necessary to break up play but also to keep the ball moving, both of which he did successfully here.

Lucas Leiva’s Defensive Contribution
He was also key when in possession, keeping the ball moving

 Also, Liverpool played with noticeable fluidity in the final third. The front trio of Jonjo Shelvey, Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling showcased intelligent movement, drifting inside and out to confuse the Southampton defence. Shelvey and Sterling were particularly fluid, rotating positions, dropping deeper and on occasions both would find themselves on the same side of the pitch to create an attacking overload.

This fluidity, and in particular Shelvey’s and Sterling’s willingness to drift inside, allowed the Liverpool fullbacks to push forward into the space out wide.

Liverpool’s wide forwards drifting inside, allowing the fullbacks to get forward

This was a perfect example of such movement, occurring in the first half. With Southampton sitting deep and trying to narrow the pitch, Steven Gerrard was allowed time on the ball on halfway. Sterling drifted inside which brought Shaw slightly inside too. Gerrard was then able to slide a pass in between Lallana and Cork and towards the overlapping Glen Johnson. From there, Shelvey, Sterling, Suarez and Allen all broke into the box; however a clearance at the front post from the retreating Fonte prevented a goal for Liverpool.

Despite creating numerous chances, and having Jonjo Shelvey hit the post, Liverpool took the lead with Daniel Agger’s goal coming moments before half-time. Luis Suarez’s free-kick struck the crossbar and the ball fell to Johnson, who crossed for Agger to head home. However, just before the break Southampton’s best chance of the first period came when Ricky Lambert’s long-range effort had Pepe Reina scrambling to touch it around his post.

Second Half

Despite Southampton having a bright opening to the second half, Liverpool’s dominance continued. Liverpool created 21 chances, attempted 22 shots and had 63.9% of possession. Southampton sat deep and tried to counter, that much was admitted by Nigel Adkins post-match:

[quote]’We have come away from home in a good run of form of late but Liverpool’s movement was very good today and we couldn’t get a grip of the football. We had to adapt ourselves a little bit. We have defended a lot deeper and looked to counter-attack.[/quote]

Despite the score remaining 1-0, more due to Liverpool’s characteristic inability to covert, Southampton’s play was sloppy and lacked spark. Liverpool was untroubled and continued to dominate right until the end, with Jose Enrique, Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling all having multiple chances to put the game beyond doubt.

However, the score-line remained the same and Liverpool picked up all three points. Liverpool now move to 11th whilst Southampton remain in the relegation zone, 1 point off Sunderland in 17th.

All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.comSubscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.

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