Dominate match – miss clear chances. Concede one goal – push the self-destruct button. Yeah, normal service is resumed for Liverpool. The common features that led to the club’s worst run of form since 1954, last season, seem to still be lingering around the squad – even with a new manager with new ideas. When will the poor run and bad luck end for the Reds? The performance was decent but bad finishing and poor refereeing cost Brendan Rodgers his first Premier League win at the club.
The stats would suggest a different performance, though – a good one would you believe.
Rodgers has brought a new system, new ideas and a new philosophy to Liverpool – a passing one and the pass completion statistics are impressive. The lowest % rate was Pepe Reina, with 71% completed from 14 attempted – 79% of which went forward.
Three players for Liverpool stayed above 90%: Glen Johnson, Lucas Leiva and, least surprisingly, Joe Allen who completed 66 of 69 passes. He could be tagged as a player who only passes sideways or backwards but exactly a third of his passes went forward, showing what he can add to attack for the Reds. Actually, just 9% of his passes went backwards. That should prove any possible future doubters wrong.
The biggest let-down in attack, in terms of passing, was Stewart Downing who only directed 9% of his passes forward – disappointing. The winger had a depressing first season at Anfield and has an awful lot to do to impress the fans on the Kop and he’ll need to do more than what he offered today.
His miserable total of two attempted dribbles proves this. As a winger, he must attempt more dribbles and try to take full-backs on, or even cut in and take a shot but he continues to fail in this department. He failed to create any clear-cut chances, something which many people who backed him last season used to defend him. A stick to defend Downing from criticism was his large number of clear-cut chances created. While I agree that scoring takes two aspects – the chance creator and the chance converter – he still should be involved in supplying the front men a lot more, and more effectively.
It will come as no surprise to see who was the most lively Liverpool player today. Once again, Luis Suarez took it upon himself to create and supply. He created two chances from open play and attempted 4 dribbles, completing three. What you have to take into account when assessing Suarez’s number of created chances is that he also creates for himself. In today’s match, he allowed himself three shots at goal from his own work. Liam Ridgewell, surprisingly, was the only one playing for West Brom to come anywhere near Suarez’s impact today.
Sending off costs Liverpool
Not many West Brom players stood out from each other in the chance creation aspect but they all chipped in. To compare the two sides, Steve Clarke had 9 of his players who created something, while Rodgers only had five players to count on – Suarez, Johnson, Borini, Gerrard and Lucas. Liverpool’s quintet managed to create 9 chances from open play, compared to West Brom’s 11. West Brom’s number is so high because up until Daniel Agger’s sending off, they had only created one chance – Zoltan Gera’s goal.
The red card allowed them to step up a gear and push Liverpool back, thus creating more chances. Liverpool have to increase the number of chances they make, no question about it. Chance creation needs to be high if you are to dominate effectively. It’s rare that a team creates one chance, scores it, and wins the game. Many may question this point but, personally, I feel the rarity of the occasions amps it up so its easier to recollect compared to when a team creates 10 chances and scores once.
As I strolled through the stats of the match, I stumbled upon a fantastic one. The debutant, Allen, is well-known for his tidy passing game and he brought his A-game today when in possession. As I earlier mentioned, his passing percentage was very high, but this is even more impressive: he had 79 touches throughout the match and not one was unsuccessful. It’s as if he’s immune to giving the ball away.
He also won the ball back seven times and made three interceptions.
Martin Skrtel was immense last season, a true colossus in Liverpool’s defence and proved that once again today. He made 7 headed clearances – more than the entire West Brom side put together and precisely a third of the Reds’ total number of headed clearances. Impressive.
Six Liverpool players won every tackle they entered: Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson, Joe Allen (again near the top), Downing, Suarez and Carragher. Now I’m a bit of a sceptic when it comes to tackling percentages as they can mask the total number of tackles completed. The latter three only made 1 tackle. Fair play to them for winning it but it’s hard to praise when it was just the single tackle completed.
Seven Baggies’ players completed 100% but four of them only attempted one tackle. The overall tackle success % rate for both sides was 80 for the Reds and 79 for the victors.
So, as you can see, the stats tell a different story to the match reports you’ve likely read after the final whistle. Liverpool dominated many of the stats (and possession, 59.7% to 40.3) but managed to travel home with a demoralising loss playing on their minds.
As for my Statistical Man of the Match, I’d have to pick Joe Allen. His numbers were impressive and he will likely keep it up throughout the season.
With such a poor opening day result for Liverpool, many fans must be asking, “So, when does the season actually start?”
All Stats taken from the EPLIndex Stats Centre including the New Top Stats area (Suarez shooting image above) that allows you to sort and filter players! Subscribe to the EPLIndex Stats Centre get access to in-depth stats from 2008/09 to 12/13!