Liverpool went back to the top of the Premier League with a tense but richly deserved 1-0 win over a stubborn Brighton side at Anfield. But what were the key stats from the Reds’ third win – and third clean sheet – in three games?
Did I mention the three clean sheets in three games? Yes okay, the Reds did that in 13/14 and went on to concede 50 goals that year, but this year we look like the absolute business defensively. Brighton were allowed just 0.54 xG (the highest the Reds have conceded this season) and were only given one opening that could be considered a decent chance with Pascal Groß’s late header.
That means that the Reds have now conceded just 1.32 expected goals in three games, and just 19 shots against them. Both of these brute numbers are second best in the division behind Watford, who have conceded 1.12 xG and 14 shots from their two games, giving the Reds’ the best defensive record for both of those numbers per game – as well as of course being the only PL team not to concede a goal in this game. Interesting, despite having the second most possession on average (61% per game), the Reds have also made the second most tackles per game this season so far, at 21.
In terms of individual defensive performances, there were some standouts, with both Gini Wijnaldum and Trent Alexander-Arnold winning four tackles, Gini 4/5 and Trent 4/4. In terms of being dribbled, not a single member of Liverpool’s back four let themselves be dribbled past, and aerially, Joe Gomez took over domination from Virgil Van Dijk last week, winning 7/11 duels.
Defensively, I’ll leave you with this absolutely staggering stat that since their 4-1 defeat to Spurs, Liverpool have conceded just 22 league goals in 32 league games. Mini-thread on this courtesy of the ever-reliable Andrew Beasley.
Liverpool have conceded 22 goals in their last 32 league games.
— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) August 25, 2018
Stuttering Attack Still Delivers
Liverpool were comfortably the better team in the first half but fell away after halftime. In an attacking sense, the Reds created 1.83 expected goals, 1.08 of that before the break, and only one big chance, Firmino’s early header which was saved by Ryan.
Creating that big chance, amongst his four key passes, ensured that Robbo had the highest xA in the game at 0.68, with Mo’s six key passes and 0.37 xA a decent contribution, especially considering he had six shots and 0.38 xG himself, scoring a wonderful goal in the process.
Overall, the Reds’ xG this season is now 8.54, which is the best in the league overall and the best per game as well. That makes the Reds both the best attacking side and the best defensive side in the division so far in terms of underlying numbers, even though Man City have scored more, and Chelsea could plausibly have scored more after they play Newcastle.
Fortress Anfield Continues
On top of winning their first three league games for only the second time in 24 years after 13/14, Liverpool have been slowly building an absolutely phenomenal home record. In 2018 at Anfield in the Premier League they have now won eight of their ten games, drawing the other two – and scoring 29 goals in the process whilst conceding just six. It’s been six months and now 20 goals scored since we last conceded a league goal at home and it’s been well over twelve months since an Anfield defeat in the Premier League. There is no harder place to travel in the Premier League right now.