Liverpool FC: 2010/11 Season in Stats
Dr. Jekyll would no doubt be impressed with the dramatic transformation witnessed at Anfield during the current collection of 38 league games.
A team desperately out of sync in the opening sequence of games saw them fighting off relegation worries before a change of manager and a change of form allowed them to release the shackle, work in unison and go full pelt in an unexpected hunt for European qualification.
As the mad mathematician that I am, here is a look at the defining statistics that have moulded Liverpool's current season, in some ways a deafening realisation of what could have been.
Total Points Against the Bottom Half
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If you want to be taken seriously as title or European contenders, then a vital part of the game is triumphing in the games that people expect you to win.
For many years, this has been the downfall of Liverpool and this season followed a similar journey.
Their results against the bottom 10 teams actually improved when the likes of Bolton slipped into the lower half, but with only nine wins out of a possible 20, their form was not spectacular.
Their only double against bottom-half opposition was against one-time rivals Bolton Wanderers. At one point, the two teams looked to be in contention for sixth, yet Bolton's decline saw them slip to an unimpressive 14th spot.
And so out of a possible 60 points against the sides lower down the Premiership, Liverpool gained only 50 percent of these. Later on in this slideshow you will see the disappointing difference this statistic has when comparing it to their performances against the top half of the table.
So what went wrong? Let's have a look, shall we....
The Curse of the W
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At various points throughout the season and especially on final match day, there was a coined phrase in the "www.relegation.com battle."
As it turned out, each and every side beginning with the letter "W" was facing a fight to survive.
Worse for Liverpool was that each of these teams gained something from Liverpool.
Wolves gained an early victory over the Anfield side and this followed with victories later on for West Ham and—excruciatingly—West Brom, who were under the management of sacked Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson.
For such a manager to enact victory over Liverpool after seemingly running them into the ground left a bitter taste in the mouths of all Kop fans.
Only Wigan failed to beat Liverpool, but then they also didn't lose to Steven Gerrard and Co. by drawing both fixtures 1-1.
In the end, Liverpool scored only 11 points from a possible 24 against the "www" sides, a percentage of 45.8 percent which was brought up slightly with a comfortable 3-0 return win against Wolves.
With only West Ham eventually going down, the poor run of results against the www.relegation.com sides will need to be overthrown for the following season.
Yet there were two teams who could do the double on Liverpool, and not the two you would necessarily expect.
2 Games, 2 Defeats
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When Blackpool conceded a third goal against Manchester United on Sunday, thousands of hearts sank as the possibility that the Tangerines would go down became a reality.
Even neutral supporters were gutted at the sight of a team who had played with such passion and determination being relegated.
Yet one of their shining highlights was a victorious double they performed over Liverpool. Their first tie against the side saw them triumph 2-1 against a Liverpool side in the midst of inner turmoil and Roy Hodgson's ill-fated role.
Yet their second game saw them come from a goal down to enact a shocking double blow to a Liverpool side intent on fighting back into the top half of the table. Without the results, it is clear Blackpool would have been down and out before their fixture against United. But at least they had this triumph to remember their season by.
The second double inflicted on Liverpool was the more painful, however. Tottenham Hotspurs had won an uneventful game earlier in the season 2-1 against Liverpool.
Then Liverpool began their remarkable comeback and with two games left, found themselves ahead of Spurs in the fight for fifth place. After beautiful demolitions of Fulham, Newcastle and both Manchester sides, the scene was set for Liverpool to claim fifth.
All Liverpool could do, however, was choke. A following defeat to Aston Villa was just a further nail in the coffin but a lacklustre performance and 2-0 defeat against Harry Redknapp's side undid all of the heroics from the starting 11 under Kenny Dalglish.
Many will say Liverpool did well to come sixth, yet this only glosses over the failure for the team to claim what consequentially ended as only an anticlimax.
Totals Against the Top Half
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In opposition to their inconistent form and lack of control over the teams in the bottom half, Liverpool fared slightly better against the teams who compiled the stronger half of the Premiership.
With only a handful of games remaining, Liverpool's success rate against the top half was at one point 60 percent of points gained. With the two final game defeats, this decreased to 51.9 percent, still an improvement on their results against the lower half.
This total is composed of a 28-point total from a possible 54. Highlights of this included second-half triumphs over the likes of Manchester City and United, as well as their second and final double of the season against Chelsea.
This value was also largely increased from earlier on in the season when various defeats, such as their 3-0 thrashing by Manchester City, saw them dangerously close to the relegation zone.
Sadly, from a Merseyside point of view, Everton got the better of them with a draw and a 2-0 defeat, meaning their local rivals emerged on top.
With a stronger squad and improved form though, it is certain that similar overall form against stronger sides next season could allow them to challenge for at least a Champions League spot.
1st Half vs. 2nd Half of the Season
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In the first 19 games of the 2010/11 season, Liverpool achieved only seven wins but suffered eight losses. The first half, the percentage of points gained ended at a 43.9 percent success rate.
At least this was an improvement from their first eight games, where their return rate stood at a dismal 25 percent (six points from a possible 24).
In contrast, the second half of their season was obviously stronger. Ten wins out of the 19 matches edged them upwards in the league table. In total, they gained 33 points from a possible 57, giving them a 57.8 percent success rate.
What hindered them from reaching an even better statistic was their inability to string together a run of results. Amongst victories against top-four opposition, their defeats against the likes of West Brom, West Ham and Blackpool stopped them from fighting for fourth as opposed to fifth.
To put their second-half performance in perspective, however, if they had replicated the same form throughout the first half of the season, they would have finished on 65 points and thus claimed fifth ahead of Spurs.
Hodgson vs. Dalglish
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Roy Hodgson became the shortest reigning manager when he was sacked after only 31 games in charge at Liverpool. This included 18 games in the Premier League where a lack of form and attacking prowess meant he struggled to gain a stranglehold on his players, the fans and the results.
In total, the side gained only 25 points out of a possible 60 in his 20 games in charge. As a return rate, this meant that the side under Hodgson had a success rate of 41.7 percent.
It is certain that the results had begun to improve but the 3-1 defeat in January against Blackburn was the final straw. If Hodgson had remained at the club and poor success rate had continued, then Liverpool would have ended up on 48 points, finishing a lowly ninth place.
It is not the relegation battle that many were concerned about, yet you could not have imagined the side to play in the same vein that they played in under Kenny Dalglish.
And so, King Kenny took over a seemingly sinking ship. He moulded a collection of individual but lost and bewildered talents into a team who could attack effectively and produce results.
There is obviously still some way to go but from his 18 games in the league in charge of Liverpool, the side claimed 33 points from a possible 54 under Dalglish. This transfers into a 61.1 percent success rate in points earned, leaving us to ponder what could have happened with Dalglish at the helm from the offset.
And what if Kenny had managed from the start with that success rate? Well, the team would have totalled 70 points and ended only one point shy of second and third-placed Chelsea and Manchester City.
This is of course the reason why Liverpool plans have and realistically should be optimistic about next season as it proves they are more than capable of challenging at the top with a further strengthened squad.