Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Manchester City last weekend marked the end of a gruelling seven games in which The Reds’ fans experienced joyous moments, but also times of despair and disappointment.
After successfully winning their first four games with relative ease, the Merseyside club were confident of maintaining their 100% Premier League record away to Spurs. On the back of a hectic international break for Jurgen Klopp’s men, they came out on top against the London club after a hard-fought battle on the Wembley turf.
Klopp fielded arguably his strongest team possible in a game that saw The Reds successfully register 2.98 expected goals as wave after wave of marauding reds tested the Tottenham backline. Furthermore, Liverpool’s new look defence held firm and conceded just 0.79 expected goals in the game against a strong Pochettino side.
During the week came the challenge of PSG at Anfield in the first round of fixtures in the Champions League. Naturally, a strong eleven was fielded which resulted in a deserved victory thanks to Roberto Firmino’s last minute strike.
With the players tired from their midweek venture, the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Joel Matip found their way into Klopp’s first team plans for the clash against Southampton. The Reds dominated the first half, however, failed to muster up anywhere as near as many expected goals as against Spurs.
Salah led the way as The Reds went on to register a slightly worse 1.78 expected goals against The Saints. Could this have been Klopp’s first sign of potential fatigue in his players? Perhaps, but the scoreline favoured Liverpool as they won the game 3-0 and only conceded 0.31 expected goals.
Another midweek game saw Liverpool succumb to an Eden Hazard-inspired Chelsea in the Carabao Cup at Anfield, before Klopp and his team headed back down to London a few days later to complete the so-called “doubleheader” against Sarri’s men in a Premier League heavyweight clash.
Liverpool’s 1-1 draw away at Stamford Bridge marked the first time this season that points had been dropped by Klopp and his men in the Premier League. The Reds conjured up a fairly impressive 1.73 expected goals in the game against a tough Chelsea side.
However, their defence suffered slightly at the hands of a more taxing offence, as Virgil van Dijk and co. conceded 1.58 expected goals.
Just a few days later, Liverpool suffered defeat as Lorenzo Insigne’s last-minute winner gave Napoli the victory in matchday two of the Champions League.
A trip for the Cityzens to Anfield during the weekend just gone prompted claims that it would be Klopp’s biggest test of the season so far, and perhaps for some time. Whilst Pep Guardiola openly admitted to making his players sitting in deep to counteract the firing power of Liverpool’s famous front three, The Reds looked lacklustre in attack and managed to create just 0.43 expected goals the whole game.
The defence remained resolute, bar one careless challenge that led to a penalty kick for Manchester City, which a certain Riyad Mahrez ballooned over the bar to total Manchester City’s expected goals for that game to 1.07. Perhaps The Reds were a little fortunate to come away with a 0-0 draw that night. However, it was a result fully deserved of their tireless performances.
Everybody Stay Calm
Whilst Liverpool’s attack is operating 1.66 goals under their expected goals total of 16.66 this season at fifteen goals, it is more than likely, The Reds’ fabulous front three will start firing again as that number pushes towards average.
Furthermore, Klopp’s men have conceded just 3 goals this season, as they operate at a level at a seemingly unprecedented level for the club. Liverpool’s defence have shipped 2.9 fewer goals than what is expected of them. Therefore, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Alisson all seem to be playing well beyond their means to propel Liverpool forwards.
This time last year, Klopp’s men had already conceded 10.27 expected goals and had conceded a whopping twelve goals in the league. Compared to this season’s three goals conceded after eight games, I think we can be rather happy.
More interestingly, however, Liverpool’s attack last season only produced less than 0.6 more expected goals than this season’s after eight games.
And let me tell you this, those first eight games last season did not offer up the challenge of playing the likes of Spurs, Chelsea and Leicester away.
Whilst it may take Klopp a short while to tweak his midfield and attack to start scoring some highly anticipated goals, Liverpool fans would be silly to think that this start to the Premier League season is anything short of a title challenging team’s form. It may be a brand of football less beautiful to watch currently, but The Reds will start firing. They always do. Imagine that? Liverpool Football Club with a genuinely quality defence and attack. Scary.