Liverpool's 2012-13 Premier League season was a relatively disappointing one, as the Reds once again missed out on Champions League places. There was improvement overall in Brendan Rodgers' first year at the helm, as they made a nine-point improvement on Kenny Dalglish's final year.
However, one of the factors that could have played a part in the lower-than-desired spot in the table was some inaccurate finishing. More specifically, Liverpool seemed to rattle the woodwork quite frequently. Too frequently, in fact.
Recent statistics have indicated that they, along with Tottenham Hotspur, would have cracked the top four if all their shots that hit the woodwork had been goals. The difference in the standings amounted to a massive 14 points, vaulting them over Everton, Arsenal and Chelsea.
This is not the first time that Liverpool have run into this kind of issue. Just last season, they struck iron an astounding 33 times, nearly once per game. That too would have seen them in the top four if those were converted to goals.
So what is causing this to happen time and again? Is there more to it than just plain bad luck? Last year, in the midst of that woodwork-laden campaign, striker Luis Suarez told the Liverpool Daily Post how on Earth it was possible:
When you shoot, you can look for the spaces between the posts and the goalkeeper. But instinctively, you usually aim for the corners, which means that there’s a chance the ball might hit the post…
Sometimes this happens. As a striker, you can shoot from 25 yards and hit the post with a shot that is technically perfect…There is an element of luck. It would be more worrying if chances were not being created. Maybe next season, all the ones that hit the post and come out may go in.
Unfortunately for the Uruguayan, the frame of the goal continued to deny his side goals, which would prove costly over the season. Suarez in particular ran into plenty of trouble with this, as evidenced by the following graphic, via Squawka.
A notable incidence of Liverpool's run-ins with the posts occurred in an October match against Stoke City. In the scoreless draw at the Britannia, attempts by Suarez, Raheem Sterling and Martin Skrtel struck the post—the last of which came in stoppage time.
Liverpool were far and away the most trigger-happy team in the Premier League, unleashing better than 50 more shots than their nearest rivals in the category. Suarez topped the charts for individual players, with nearly 20 more attempts than second-placed Gareth Bale.
Of course, the more you shoot, the more likely you are to strike the post. Suarez said it best: sometimes, this happens. But why shoot when you don't need to? Liverpool take an inordinate amount of shots from long distance.
Sure, you'll sometimes end up with goals like Steven Gerrard's wonder goal against Olympiacos all those years ago. But more often than not, it's either well off target, blocked or collected easily by the keeper. Or, your "technically perfect" 25-yard strike can hit the post.
These statistics are particularly strange when you consider that this team is supposedly being crafted to be a more possession-oriented side. Sides that fit that bill should be finding the incisive pass to create easy goal-scoring chances, not having a go as they please.
In retrospect, Liverpool's affinity for the shot isn't all bad. Ask Norwich City—the Canaries shipped five goals to the Reds in both of their Premier League encounters. But continuing to shoot freely could lead to more woodwork woes, and perhaps more wasted points.