After not scoring a goal in their previous two matches, Manchester City was desperately in need of a win at home against Liverpool. A loss or draw would lead to everyone talking about the end of City’s EPL dominance, that other clubs had finally figured out. What they really needed to silence the critics, was a big win.
Despite finding themselves being out-passed, out-shot, out-chanced, and out-crossed, City wound up winning 3-0. This is not a position City has been used to this season. Usually, they dominate their opposition in virtually every statistical category. In this game though, the opposite was true. The only statistic that really matters as we all know, is goals scored. Below are some important offensive stats from the game. The higher numbers are in bold and underlined, highlighting Liverpool’s statistical dominance of the game.
The metrics that tell the story of the game are the bottom two. Despite not seeing much of the ball, especially after Barry’s red card, City was brutally efficient offensively. 75% of their shots were on net, and 38% of their chances were finished. Liverpool, despite having more total shots and total chances, only saw 46% of their shots go on net, and 0% of their chances were scored. This is a reflection of two things. First, Liverpool is struggling to score goals this season. The problem for them is not a lack of chances, but their low chance conversion rate (think Stewart Downing’s miss, right before Aguero’s goal).
In this game, Liverpool’s inability to score was also a function of someone else: Vincent Kompany. Kompany was an absolute hero throughout the entire game, clearing everything that came his way. In fact, Kompany had 10 headed clearances, and 14 clearances in total. On the other side, Liverpool had 4 total clearances as a team.
The importance of Kompany in this game was especially relevant. Much of Liverpool’s attack was based on crosses in to the box for Carroll to finish. This is shown in the statistics from Liverpool’s 39 crosses, compared to only 8 by City. However, Kompany dominated Carroll in the box, severely limiting his chances on goal. Kolo Touré also did his part, with 10 total clearances, 7 of those with his head.
Without Kompany back there, Liverpool would have had a much easier time executing their game plan and finding Carroll’s head in the box. Even when Carroll did get his head on the ball, Kompany was able to clean up the mess. The best example of this was his goal line block on Kuyt’s shot that would have easily found the back of the net.
Overall, these are the games City must win if they want to win the league. The games where they are outplayed, or even down a man. City’s firepower offense relies on a number of different players.
The defense is largely centered around Kompany. With the outside backs rotating, and Mancini swapping Kolo and Lescott in the center back, Kompany is the one player who has been constant back there. More than anyone else, Kompany has been the key to City’s success this season. The Liverpool game shows that if City had to lose one player, Kompany might be the last player one would pick.
For more football statistics and analysis, check out my blog, Soccer Statistically.