Why Liverpool’s left are outperforming the right – structure or individual form?

During Liverpool’s 2-2 draw against West Ham, Liverpool’s left side had significantly more influence than the right. We looked at why.

Another game, another goal conceded first, more chances missed. That’s now 23 times Liverpool have conceded first out of 55 games this season.

In front of goal, FotMob tell us Liverpool had 28 shots, created 1.75 expected goals missed both of their big chances created.

Everybody knows this is a problem, though. In this piece, we’ll look at another aspect of Liverpool’s game that is becoming more evident as the weeks go by.


Salah affects the shape

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 27, 2024: Liverpool's substitute Mohamed Salah prepares to come on during the FA Premier League match between West Ham United FC and Liverpool FC at the London Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As promising a young player as Harvey Elliott is, he is not a natural winger. While both are left footed, having Mo Salah on the pitch gives Liverpool permanent width on the right and opens up spaces in the middle.

At the start of the season, one of Dominik Szoboszlai‘s biggest strengths was his ability to run beyond Salah into the space between full-back and centre-back.

With Salah now out of form and dropped against West Ham, Liverpool’s presence in very advanced wide right positions was virtually non-existent at times.

Having Trent Alexander-Arnold drift into midfield also contributes to the lack of threat on the right.

You can see using WhoScored‘s heat maps how much influence Andy Robertson had in comparison to Alexander-Arnold, on their respective flanks.


The players’ form

While Liverpool’s No. 66 was looking for the killer pass – he made more passes (13) into the final third than anyone else on Saturday – he hasn’t been at his best since returning from a lengthy injury lay-off.

Instead, the mantle has fallen on Robertson to provide impetus in the Reds’ recent fixtures and, along with Luis Diaz, has carried Liverpool of late.

Against West Ham, Liverpool’s left-sided trio of Diaz (8.6 out of 10), Robertson (8.3) and Ryan Gravenberch (7.8) were the Reds’ highest-rated players on FotMob.

Individually, they will all feel they had decent games without excelling.

Gravenberch completed seven of his eight dribbles against West Ham, more than anyone else on the pitch, and also created two chances along with making four passes into the final third.

Meanwhile, Robertson made 12 passes into the final third and created five chances, bettered only by Diaz who created seven opportunities.

The difference is stark when comparing those stats to the right-sided players, Alexis Mac Allister, Elliott and Alexander-Arnold. Those three created seven chances (none from Elliott), while the left made 14.

One of Arne Slot‘s biggest challenges will be correcting the balance to the team, deciding how and when to use Alexander-Arnold in midfield or at full-back.

Of course, there is then the question of Salah’s future too.

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