Virgil Van Dijk celebrates vs Watford ( James Wilson/Sportimage/PA Images)

Brilliant graph shows how Liverpool’s new secret weapon has become the best in Europe

Liverpool have transformed themselves from a side hapless at defending set-pieces to one able to harness free-kicks and corners into a key attacking outlet.

In the recent past, anxiety rose every time the Reds conceded a corner, or a free-kick in a dangerous area, with set-pieces widely considered a weakness of Jurgen Klopp‘s side.

Strengthening the defence with the height and aerial dominance of Alisson, Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho has certainly aided this, but the biggest improvement has perhaps come at the other end.

Liverpool’s threat in the final third is vast, and only Barcelona (81), Man City (83) and PSG (89) have scored more goals in Europe’s top five leagues this season (75), but where they come from is changing.

While the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane remain consistently dangerous from open play, the Reds are now scoring on a regular basis from set-pieces.

According to Driblab, Klopp’s side are the most dangerous in Europe when it comes to goals from set-piece situations, averaging over 0.51 per game:

This is the highest across the Premier League, the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1, and a distance ahead of second-best AS Roma.

Interestingly, Liverpool also create the third-most Expected Goals (xG) from set-pieces in the English top flight and the eighth-most in Europe, behind Villarreal, Nimes, West Ham, Marseille, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Cardiff.

Driblab explain that the average of xG from set-pieces in the Premier League is 0.52 per game, which is very similar to the level that the Reds are scoring at.

Their ability to score and create opportunities from free-kicks and corners highlights the quality of delivery, and serves as a potent weapon in this season’s title charge.

Man City are below average when it comes to set-piece goals, despite a relatively high xG, though clearly Pep Guardiola’s side have the flexibility to score from a variety of situations.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Friday, December 21, 2018: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (hidden) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mates during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking after the 5-0 victory over Watford in February, in which Van Dijk scored twice, Klopp described set-pieces as a “very important” source of goals for his side.

“Of course you need goals from set-pieces, that’s very important,” he explained.

“You need to be ready in all departments. Set-pieces helped us especially in the beginning of the season quite a lot, then it disappeared a bit.

“But now hopefully we can get it back. I love scoring from set-pieces, you have a lot of them in the game and you need to use them.”