Liverpool huffed and puffed against Totenham on Monday night, and while they came excruciatingly close to blowing their top-four rivals' house down, another game at Anfield came and went without maximum points being secured.
Liverpool fans will surely have tired of hearing the same statistic being quoted back to them – that their team’s chance to goals conversion rate of 8.92% is the worst in the Premier League, some 12% behind Manchester United.
Former Liverpool forward John Aldridge blames his old side's profligacy in front of goal on the lack of a natural goalscorer in the side, but is it as simple as that? GMF investigates just what is going wrong on the red half of Merseyside.
Aldridge may point to the lack of a natural finisher, and perhaps he has a point given the absence of Luis Suarez through suspension. The former Ajax forward was bought to Anfield to lead the line from the front, but the stats suggest that even with Suarez on the pitch they have suffered in front of goal.
The Uruguayan has managed just five goals from 83 shots in his 19 games for Liverpool this season. By way of comparison, Robin Van Perise has 22 from his 109 efforts on goal and Demba Ba has seven goals from his 48 shots. His goalscoring record for his previous club and his country is excellent, so what is going wrong for him at Liverpool?
In his games for Liverpool last season, Suarez managed 55 shots on goal in the Premier League for his four goals, while for Ajax in the 2010/11 before his move to Liverpool he managed 11 goals from his 30 shots.
While this at first seemingly indicates a decline in his powers it of course has to be taken into consideration the gulf in quality between the Eredivisie and the Premier League, while the stop-start nature of the season so far for him may have knocked his confidence somewhat.
The stats also indicate Liverpool have one of the worst records of getting their shots on target, with only 40% of their efforts testing the goalkeeper. Only Aston Villa, QPR, Stoke and West Brom have a worse record.
For Suarez as an individual though, he has already demonstrated he can score goals for Liverpool at decent rate last season and with a long run in the team he should be able to bring up his chance conversion rate.
Much has been made of the changes at Liverpool in the last 18 months, with Kenny Dalglish bringing in a host of new players to herald a new era of success.
While progress has clearly been made at Anfield, perhaps one area they must improve upon is their deliveries from out wide.
The arrival of Stewart Downing has certainly split opinion amongst fans, but generally speaking he is generally known for his high standard of crossing and delivery from set pieces.
Against Tottenham, the former Middlesbrough winger whipped in numerous crosses for Andy Carroll, but rarely floated any balls over for the striker to use his physical advantage and attack, but this isn't the only problem facing the wingers.
The stats also back up that Liverpool are not taking full advantage of having excellent headers of the ball such as Carroll, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger in their side. With 21 games of the season gone, Liverpool have the worst ratio of finding their own players with crosses from wide areas, with just 21% of their 497 deliveries finding their target, while goals directly from wide areas are a rare commodity.
It could be the case that the lack of a specialist right winger (Dirk Kuyt and Jordan Henderson generally occupy space on the right in Liverpool’s current formation) to provide crosses and Downing’s inconsistencies is leading to low quality crosses into the box that then harm their efforts on goal, thus warping the true attacking threat they pose.
With Raul Meireles departing for Chelsea over the summer, Liverpool were left with a quandary in their midfield. The Portuguese international demonstrated his creative ability at Anfield, and with Stephen Gerrard spending much of the season on the sidelines through injury, Liverpool have been robbed of much of their creativity.
With Gerrard’s return Liverpool will certainly be hoping that he and Suarez can strike up a rapport once more and find the goals to fire them into a Champions League spot. The England international
The arrival of Craig Bellamy has certainly helped Liverpool this season and his pace in attack is a bonus for Dalglish, and with Andy Carroll finding some form, the signs suggest that Liverpool can regain their confidence in front of goal and shoot back into the top four positions.
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