HomeOTHEREPLLiverpool V Wigan | Tactical Stats Analysis

Liverpool V Wigan | Tactical Stats Analysis

Liverpool and Wigan met at the DW stadium with LFC looking to continue their good away form and pick up another 3 points as against Villa last week. Formation wise Liverpool lined up with a 4-4-1-1 (see graphic) with Maxi playing just behind Suarez in the free role operating between the lines. Downing started on the left but surprisingly looked to drift inside on his weaker foot with Kuyt positioned on the right and looking to link up with Suarez and Maxi in the centre. Henderson and Adam kept their places in midfield with the back four also remaining the same having only conceded 13 goals in the 16 games so far this season. That being the best defence in the Premiership.

Line-Ups and Formations

Wigan started with an unusual 3-4-3 formation which quickly converted to a 4-5-1 once they lost possession of the ball. In fact at times throughout the game I counted 6 Wigan players in straight line defending across the edge of their box. Their tactic was to sit deep and try to hit Liverpool on the break with the pace of Moses, Diame and Gomez – whilst linking up with Sammon up front.

The game started with Liverpool on the front foot and looking to press high up the pitch. Our attacking three behind Suarez of Maxi, Kuyt and Downing looked to link up and interchange positions trying to create some fluidity to our front line. In fact after only 3 minutes Downing made runs through the centre, and ended up on the right with Kuyt on the left. So the pattern of our attack was quite clear. With 10 minutes gone Wigan had barely got out of their own half. (See passes for Wigan on StatZone Graphic below).

Wigan Camped In Their Own Half

We continued to press high up the pitch in the first 20 minutes and looked to put the Wigan back four under a lot of pressure, trying to win back possession and intercept the ball in the attacking half, especially our front players. We made 2 attacking interceptions in the first 15 mins resulting in shooting chances for our players. And the as we put Wigan under increasing pressure they were starting to crack which resulted in us winning four free kicks just outside their 18 yard box in the opening period. It seemed inevitable that a goal would come. However, as so often is the case this season, we start games like a house on fire, create numerous chances, fail to take them, then regret them later. How many times this season has this been the pattern in our games?

After the opening 20 minutes the game seemed to settle down. Whether this was a result of fatigue or tactics, but LFC’s back four began to hold their line slightly further back – Villas Boas would have called it holding a “medium block”. As a result, Wigan started to come more into the game, and particularly Moses and Diame started to find space between our lines. A theme that continued throughout the game. However, nobody seemed to tell our centre midfield this as Henderson and Adam, particularly Adam, whose job it was to play the defensive pivot in front of the back four, kept leaving spaces in between the lines. In fact, just after Johnson missed his one on one with Al Habsi – Adam was caught in possession high up the pitch; Diame and Moses broke forward in a dangerous attack, which resulted in Reina having to make a smart save down to his left from Diame. In total Wigan had 19 shots (including blocked shots) in the game, 42% of those (8) came between the 20 minute mark and the end of the first half. So it’s clear that after the 20 minute mark we started to fade.

The rest of the half continued with the same theme; the game being stretched as each back line retreated further, in turn leaving wide open spaces in the centre of the park for players to run into. This seemed to suit Wigan’s 3-4-3 formation more as they had their best spell of the game in the last 10 minutes of the first half. Wigan completed 47/56 (83.9%) of their passes in this period compared to our 34/47 at 72.3%.

The second half started with Liverpool trying to press high again, however it didn’t quite work for us as we seemed to be lacking the energy of the first 20 minutes. Maybe the amount of games and lack of changes to our starting line-up recently is starting to take it’s toll on some of the players. Charlie Adam seemed like he badly needed a rest. Then in the 50th minute we looked like we got the breakthrough we deserved as Suarez attempted an overhead kick from a clever Henderson pass which ended up hitting Caldwell’s hand. A clear penalty. Unfortunately Charlie Adam hit a weakly positioned penalty and Al Habsi saved it quite easily. In fairness, a poor penalty from Adam.

Wigan Grow Into The Game

After the missed penalty our confidence seemed to drop a little and we started to stand off Wigan and allowed them to play in front of us. Which obviously resulted in them having more possession of the ball. In fact they grew into the game, and in the period between 47 and 69 minutes they completed 103/122 passes at a rate of 84.4%. Compare that to our 93/111 passes at 83.7% from the same period and you can see they completed 10 more passes than us. In the first half alone there was a difference of 39 completed passes in favour of us. This was bore out in the StatZone graphic, as you can see from Wigan’s passing graphic – it’s a huge difference to the one above that was taken from the first 10 minutes of the game.

The final 20 minutes saw the introduction of Bellamy and Shelvey for Kuyt and Maxi. Shelvey slotted into Maxi’s position behind Suarez whilst Bellamy took up the left wing position with Downing moving into Kuyt’s position on the right. Maritnez also made changes, with Watson, Rodallega and Di Santo, for Sammon, Gomez and Jones. With the changes Wigan changed formation slightly and Watson and McCarthy now performed as a double pivot in front of the Wigan back four, with Wigan moving to more of a  4-5-1 formation. Probably to protect the score-line as I think they would have been happy with a point before the game.

After the substitutions the game started to fizzle out, with only 1 shot on target (from LFC) in the last 10 minutes it seemed we were heading for a stalemate and that’s what we got. Kenny replaced everyone’s current favourite villain (with the oh so fickle media, I’m sure there’ll be a different one next week) with Carroll. However, it was too little too late, and it seemed once again after a match we were left to rue our missed chances.

So how did the stats fare up in the game. Take a look at the table below and see for yourself. I think you’ll be surprised that Wigan matched almost every one of our stats.

Match Stats Comparison Wigan V LFC

Except for the passes per minute, crossing and interception stats, Wigan matched us in almost every department. The stats mirror what happened in the game. We had 4.7 passes per minute to Wigan’s 3.8 – resulting in us having more possession of the ball. We attempted 29 crosses to Wigan’s 19, however only 3 of our crosses in the whole game were accurate. Our worst performance of the season in the crossing department with a 10% crossing accuracy. Compare that to our our best crossing ratio for the season of 38% against Sunderland and you can see how poor we really were. A very poor 10%. And lastly Wigan made 36 interceptions to our 15, obviously because we had more of the ball and Wigan tried to play on the counter attack. Possession-wise, in an attacking sense, we totally dominated that area of the game. Wigan’s top attacking third passer was Jordi Gomez with 13/20 (62%) attacking third passes completed. Liverpool had 7 outfield players that could better that stat in the game. Downing topped that list with 22/28 (79%) attacking third passes completed.

Henderson Improves This Season

On a personal note I thought our best player was Jordan Henderson. He played the game intelligently, got forward when he could to join the attack, and passed and moved with relative ease throughout the game. Since moving into a central midfield role he has started to shine very brightly. And I’ve been surprised at how well he has fitted in alongside Charlie Adam. He’s improved almost all areas of his game. In his last 3 games he has won 100% (6/6) of his tackles, before those 3 games he had 83.3% tackle win percentage. His average ground duel win percentage before he moved into centre midfield was 25%. In his last 3 games that has also increased to 40%. His aerial duel win ratio was 25% before moving central – in the last 3 games it has been 33%.  His passing accuracy in the last 3 games has been 86% – before that it was 80%. You can see from the chart above – he has improved in every area. A positive note to finish on. Keep the faith and let’s hope for 3 points and a win in our next game against Blackburn.

LFC and football. EPLIndex.com writer. iPhone dabbler. Tax advisor. Guitar player. Hendrix & Metallica fan. Husband. Messer. Dad to my best pal Liam.
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