Much Ado About Something, Much Ado About Nothing – There are a multitude of ways to look at Liverpool’s draw against Southampton, writes Chris Williams.
A section of support will say the performance outshines any negativity regarding the score; a section of support that will argue that while the performance was credible two points were still dropped.
In short the truth is somewhere in the middle, isn’t it always?
Liverpool have been in tremendous form, rampant at times – you don’t score 30 goals in 12 league games by accident! The biggest positive from this current squad of players is their build up play. Liverpool comprehensively beat Hull and Watford by five goals to one and six goals to one respectively, but a score line of 10 or more wouldn’t have flattered the Reds by any means.
Drill down into the Watford match stats you’ll see 28 attempts on goal, 17 of them on target but only six hit the back of the net – a 35% conversion rate.
Now there are very few who would truly believe that Liverpool could realistically score 12 or 13 goals in a match and they’d be right. One shot on target, but not converted, allows further phases of play to develop; therefore more chances to be created. A goal stops that as the opponents have to start from the centre circle – phase development is cut short, for a moment.
What about the Hull statistics? Another rampant performance; this time an eye watering 32 shots, 12 on target with five converted – a 41% conversion rate. However, again, the number of shots is directly related to the phases of play; no goal allows further shots, further chances.
Shall we go back one more emphatic performance? OK then, Liverpool 4 – 1 Leicester. 17 shots, 11 on target with four converted – 36% conversion rate.
What about a more mundane score line? Chelsea away; a two goals to one victory at a traditionally unlucky ground and a performance worthy of title challengers, surely there are no negatives that can be drawn from that? No, of course, but it is worth noting that two goals were scored from 6 shots on target – a 33% conversion rate.
When you’re winning away at stadiums like Stamford Bridge and putting teams to the sword at Anfield by six goals there’s little to worry about – rightly so!
When you’re in tight fixtures versus Manchester United at home, or, up against a resolute defence away at St. Mary’s the ecstasy of free flowing football (multiple waves of attack resulting in majestic score lines) does turn to an air of frustration when you have a genuine feeling of two points dropped. When your possession and dominance doesn’t result in a win frustration comes to the fore.
Liverpool created opportunities of real note against both United and Southampton; seven shots with one on target against United, 15 shots with two on target vs. Southampton.
Maybe a small worry creeps in that statistically you need a minimum of three shots on target to register a goal and if you don’t get them you drop two points.
Surely this is all statistical mumbo jumbo though? Stats don’t hold that much weight in reality? Tottenham 1 – 1 Liverpool – No go away – it didn’t did it? One all important goal – three shots on target.
Statistics can be presented in a myriad of ways to bolster or discredit any argument – we all know that. Whatever the coming weekends may bring the real statistic of note now is that Liverpool are playing scintillating football – when you walk away from 6-1 victories thinking it should have been more it can only point to a hiding in waiting for one unlucky team.
Burnley away seems a long time ago now and quite rightly sticks out as a blip on the results list – it can’t be ignored that Liverpool did register 26 shots with five on target and still failed to find the net; goals change games.
Liverpool are playing beautiful football that the masses across the watching world are waxing lyrical over – and quite rightly too; however, a lack of ruthlessness may be costly at some stage.
If we are to have genuine title ambitions, in what is building up to be a fascinatingly close race, the margin between ecstasy and despair may just hinge on the ability to take your chances when you’re not at your best.
The visit of Sunderland this coming weekend will be an opportunity for Liverpool to address the feeling of two points dropped at St Mary’s.
With David Moyes’ side arriving on Merseyside fresh from their own demolition of Hull it might just be another twist in a pulsating season; however, facing Jurgen’s Redmen at Anfield is the ticket no manger wants. Sunderland would be right to fear the worst as their leaky defence, 21 goals conceded, meets Europe’s hottest property in attack.
Premier League history dictates that all clubs will at some stage falter in form, falter in overall performance, but those who shine the brightest come May must always find a way of turning average into three points, losing score lines into draws – they must find a way to score.