Liverpool 5-0 Swansea: Why Reds Are Premier League's Most Frustrating Side

Frank Wagner@Fw1812Correspondent IFebruary 18, 2013

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17:  Luis Suarez of Liverpool with Steven Gerrard of Liverpool  during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Swansea City at Anfield on February 17, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

When the dust settled on Liverpool's 5-0 victory over Swansea City on Sunday, the feeling throughout Anfield was less celebratory than one might expect.

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 their hefty goal output (third amongst Premier League sides, behind just Manchester United and Arsenal), Liverpool are not getting as many goals as they could.

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
Suarez 11.76% 2.46
Sturridge 16.00% 0.82
van Persie 21.15% 1.70
Rooney 14.86% 1.91
Chicharito 24.44% 0.70
Ba 14.29% 0.60
Torres 13.16% 1.03
Aguero 13.25% 1.22
Dzeko 18.06% 1.03
Odemwingie 12.50% 1.39
Long 18.75% 0.82
Benteke 14.86% 1.48
Lambert 16.92% 2.08
Fellaini 15.15% 1.29
Berbatov 15.38% 1.71
Crouch 17.24% 1.09
Michu 20.00% 1.08

Data compiled via

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
Manchester United 8.52% 1.35
Manchester City 9.23% 1.13
Chelsea 8.97% 1.22
Tottenham 11.54% 1.20
Arsenal 10.14% 1.36
Everton 10.26% 1.31
Liverpool 11.45% 1.50
Swansea 8.40% 1.43
West Brom 8.41% 1.20
Stoke 8.52% 1.05
West Ham 9.74% 1.35
Fulham 10.10% 1.62
Sunderland 7.69% 1.15
Norwich 10.99% 1.37
Southampton 13.31% 1.73
Newcastle 12.64% 1.73
Aston Villa 11.31% 1.72
Reading 10.26% 1.54
Wigan 13.08% 2.13
QPR 9.86% 1.43

Data compiled via

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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