The lynch mob went into overdrive yesterday following the 1-1 draw with Norwich. The sheer volume of over-the-top reactions to the game was astonishing. Away from all the blood and thunder, a statistical analysis of the draw offers us a calm, rational sense of perspective.
Norwich will not give points away easily in the league this season, as they proved against Manchester United. Their league position of 8th is justified and they gave a good account of themselves again yesterday. They had 8 shots on goal, one less than the total United managed last week and on par with Arsenal’s shots against us at the Emirates. They were, therefore, somewhat of a force to be reckoned with.
Defensively, it was just a normal day at the office. We tend to concede about one goal per game and we are prone to making the occasional defensive mistake. Our league position is where it is because we are better at attacking than we are at defending. Johnson, Carragher, Enrique and Reina can all be pointed at as scapegoats for the goal, but the fact of the matter is that we should have been out of sight long before the incident happened. This is shown clearly by the attacking stats.
From an attacking perspective, Liverpool (and Suarez in particular) were phenomenal. We managed 29 shots on goal against a season average of 17, with 9 on target against a season average of 5. In total, we shot at goal 1.7 times more against Norwich than we do in an average game. We passed more (496 vs 458) and were more accurate in our passing (81% vs 79%) than our season average. We played more forward passes, more final third passes and more crosses and than our season average. It was an attacking performance that was well above par.
The one part of our attacking game where we have let ourselves down all season is chance conversion. On average, we convert 8% of our shots at goal. Manchester United, on the other hand, convert 18%. This is something we have to improve upon.
Yesterday was even worse. We only converted 3% of our shots at goal and this statistic above all others cost us the win. Our shooting accuracy was 31% which is on par with our season average of 32%. We hit the woodwork and had numerous near misses. On an average day, with 29 shots on goal, Liverpool would have comfortably scored 2 or 3. United, by way of comparison, would have scored between 5 and 6.
This offers us two conclusions: Firstly, it was just one of those days. If we approach the next game against West Brom with the same spirit, energy and determination as we showed against Norwich, the law of averages strongly suggests that we will come out on top. Secondly, improving our chance conversion percentage is critically important if we are going to get back into the Champions League next year.
As fans, we need to have patience and faith. It is surely only a matter of time before Suarez starts to convert at least 18% of his shots on goal. Had he managed to yesterday, he would have had a brace. Suarez is the fulcrum of our attack, and once he gets his goal scoring touch back we will regularly be out of sight by half-time in games like the one yesterday.
To put the first 9 games into perspective, this time last year we were second from bottom with 6 points. If we can be more clinical in front of goal and stop making silly mistakes in defence, it will not be long before we are challenging at the top of the table once again.
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Stats from http://www.eplindex.com