Liverpool – misfiring their way out of top 4?


Having dropped points in several games where they have created far more chances than the opposition, Liverpool’s lack of efficiency in front of goal have been a central point of discussion among supporters this week.

Dan Kennett recently wrote an article for The Tomkins Times, exploring Liverpool’s ability to convert clear cut chances to goals, compared to the rest of the league. We recommend you read the article by clicking here:

In his article, Kennett illustrates how Liverpool is the least clinical side in the league, but let one question kept unanswered: at what point does Liverpool’s lack of effectiveness in front of goal become a major risk to the team’s objectives? In this article, we will try to answer this question.

What is most relevant – total number of chances created or number of clear cut chances?

In this analysis, we will be using the same source of data as Kennett (EPL Index). However, we will not be using the exact same variables.

In order to visualize Liverpool’s lack of effectiveness this season compared to our rivals, Kennett looks into the number of clear cut chances the team has both created and missed.

For our purpose, when establishing a relationship between chance conversion and table position, we need an index related to chances created which is highly correlated to points gained. Number of clear cut chances created explains 36 % of points gained during a season. Total chances created, on the other hand, explains 47 %. We therefore applied the latter index in our analysis.

Liverpool’s main objective and what it takes to get there

Dalglish and Comolli have previously stated that Liverpool’s main objective this season is to qualify for the Champions League. For the previous six seasons, the mean points earned for teams finishing fourth is 70.

So what does a team have to do to gain 70 points? It obviously depends on the number of goals scored and conceded. The goal difference is correlated with number of points with 0.97, and thereby explains 94 % of the variance between teams.

With such a strong correlation, goal difference is a useful index for us as we establish the relationship between chance conversion and table position.

For the previous six seasons the mean goal difference required to end fourth is +32. In order to calculate the number of goals Liverpool needs to achieve such a goal difference, we are forced to assume that their ratio of goals conceded per game, will be stable throughout the season. We therefore assume Liverpool will let in 42 goals this season (which might not be unrealistic considering they conceded 44 last season).

Assuming Liverpool concede 42 goals, they will have to score 74 goals to achieve the goal difference required to have a realistic chance to qualify for the Champions League.

Chance conversion rate already a major risk

The simple formula to calculate the required conversion rate is as follows:

Number of chances created * chance conversion rate = goals scored

We have estimated the number of required goals and now need to calculate the number of chances created for the season. Just as we make the assumption of Liverpool’s defensive performance to be stable throughout the season, we do the same with their ability to create chances. To date, they have created an average of 12 chances per game. Adding this up for the whole season, we get 456 chances.

The required chance creation rate is therefore 74 goals / 456 chances created, which equals 16 percentages. This season, Liverpool has scored 12 goals from a total of 109 chances, with a chance conversion rate on 11 percentages.

Assuming that their defensive performance and their ability to create chances stay constant throughout the season, Liverpool therefore need to better their chance creation rate by 45 % in order to have a realistic chance to achieve a fourth place.

So to answer Dan Kennett’s question in his article in The Tomkins Times; at what point does Liverpool’s lack of effectiveness in front of goal become a major risk to the team’s objectives? It is already a major risk.


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