Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho told Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp that “the best team lost” at Anfield in the Premier League on Wednesday night, and the statistics say he might be right.
Spurs visited the reigning champions in a game that would dictate who took top spot in the Premier League table, but it was Liverpool who finished up at the division’s summit after Roberto Firmino headed home an 89th-minute winner.
Mourinho was clearly disappointed with the 2-1 defeat after the full-time whistle. As well as directly telling Klopp his Spurs side were the better team, he later insisted to reporters that he wouldn’t even have been happy with a draw.
“I think even a draw would have left us not with the best taste because we had them there to win it,” he said.
Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold has already hit back at the claim on his Instagram account, captioning a picture of the Reds celebrating Firmino’s late goal with the message “Best team won.”
And a quick look at the baseline statistics suggests Liverpool were the better side at Anfield. They had 17 shots to Spurs’ eight, enjoyed 76% possession to the visitors’ 24%, completed a higher percentage of their passes, made more dribbles, won more headers and took more corners.
However, more in-depth statistics paint a slightly different story. While Spurs only had eight attempts at Liverpool’s goal, four of those were categorised as “big chances” compared to the Reds’ none, while their xG was actually superior to Liverpool’s – as documented by The Athletic’s Alex Kay-Jelski.
Of course, the big problem with statistics is that they’re never quite as black-and-white as they seem, and big chances and xG especially come with an element of subjectivity about them.
Nonetheless, they certainly give genuine substance to Mourinho’s declaration that his side should’ve won, demonstrating that Liverpool were a little fortunate to take all three points on Wednesday night.
Nonetheless, there’s only one statistic that truly matters – the scoreline, and that was ultimately in Liverpool’s favour.