Liverpool 5-0 Swansea: Why Reds Are Premier League's Most Frustrating Side
As impressive as the Reds were in claiming their 10th win of the Premier League season and first over a club in the top half of the table, the win only exemplified how frustrating it has been for supporters.
In terms of results, Liverpool have been the model of inconsistency this season. After all, the side has yet to lose consecutive league matches and has only won consecutive matches on two occasions (each time just two consecutive), a record that is unrivaled amongst the rest of the league.
This week has been a microcosm of that, as the side fell 2-0 to both West Brom and Zenit in the Premier League and Europa League, respectively, before their romp over Swansea on Sunday.
So what makes the side so unpredictable? How can they vacillate from low points to high points in such rapid succession?
Looking at this week's results could yield a clue about this phenomenon.
As crazy as it might sound, the side's play in their two league matches was not so far off.
In last Monday's loss to West Brom, the Reds thoroughly dominated play for 80 minutes before giving up the decisive goals in the final 10. Further, while Liverpool did what they had to in routing Swansea on Sunday, one cannot overlook the weakened side that the Swans played in preparation for their League Cup final next week.
How do two such performances produce such different results?
An obvious culprit is finishing.
For statistical evidence, here is a breakdown of many of the best Premier League strikers' goal rates (goals over attempts) and key pass rates (key passes over matches).
The players are Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, Manchester United's Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez, Chelsea's Demba Ba and Fernando Torres, Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko, West Brom's Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long, Aston Villa's Christian Benteke, Southampton's Rickie Lambert, Everton's Marouane Fellaini, Fulham's Dimitar Berbatov, Stoke City's Peter Crouch and Swansea City's Michu.
|Striker||Goal Rate||Key Pass Rate|
Data compiled via WhoScored.com
Obviously, Suarez has the lowest goal rate of the bunch, though he atones with the highest key pass rate, while new-signing Sturridge has a middling goal rate and a low key pass rate.
Now, this isn't to suggest these aren't fine players that, if put together for longer than just the few matches they have, could become a lethal strike force.
However, these numbers could shed some light on why the club has struggled to find any consistent form: They can't find a consistent touch in front of the net.
Just look at both league matches this week. In the first 80 minutes against West Brom, Liverpool created numerous opportunities peppering the Baggies' net with 25 shots overall, yet failing to produce a goal. On Sunday, the first half was similar, as only a penalty nabbed the Reds their first goal.
Another possible explanation for their inconsistencies could be Liverpool's work in front of net.
Again, the club's respectable record of 34 goals conceded through 27 matches could be a bit deceiving.
To illustrate, here is a comparison between every Premier League club in two categories: The percentage of opponents' shots that are goals and the amount of goals conceded per 45 minutes of opponent possession.
|Club||Percentage of opponent shots that are goals||Rate of goals conceded per 45 minutes of opponent possession|
Data compiled via Whoscored.com
Clearly, Liverpool don't stack up favorably in these two categories.
As to the percentage of opponents' shots that become goals, they are 16th in the league, with only Tottenham having a higher percentage while being ahead in the table.
For the rate of conceded goals per 45 minutes of opponent possession, they are 14th with a higher rate than any other side in the top half of the league.
As to in-match examples of these problems, one need look no further than Liverpool's match with West Brom, where they had 59 percent of possession and allowing the Baggies to only get off five shots, yet conceded two goals.
Could these two statistics be explained by bad luck?
Perhaps, but they may very well expose an issue the Reds have defending in front of their net.
Now, this isn't meant to rain on any parades or spread doom and gloom through Anfield.
Liverpool are a young side that, in a few years, could easily be reaching the glory that the storied club is used to achieving.
However, as of right now, the club's lack of consistency makes them one of the most frustrating sides in the Premier League.
With a few adjustments in front of both nets, though, the club could graduate from these growing pains and start their rise through the English ranks.
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