Liverpool secured a breathless point at Anfield to go into the second international break still unbeaten following a 0-0 draw with Champions Manchester City. But what were the key stats from a hard-fought contest?
Reds’ Attack Still Misfiring
It would be unfair to describe Liverpool’s front three as going through a crisis, but there are clearly real issues with the Reds’ attack. In this game, they created just 0.43 xG, their joint-lowest league total since their 1-0 home win over the same opposition in December 2016. Firmino and Mané registered no shots, didn’t create any chances and completed just one dribble between them. What will be worrying is that Joe Gomez was Liverpool’s most prominent attacking player, creating three chances totalling 0.23 xA as well as having a shot himself.
This, coupled with an even worse attacking display on Wednesday, means that the Reds have scored just two goals in their last four and a half games, albeit in significantly mitigating circumstances – with both of those goals scored by Daniel Sturridge. Mané, in particular, is a worry with no goals or assists in his last seven starts, but Firmino is also four starts without a goal contribution and Salah’s goal against Southampton is his only goal contribution in six starts.
The front three have been backed up by the rest of the team in the last few weeks, but they’re definitely in a bit of a funk.
Defence Continues To (Mostly) Bail Us Out
So yeah there’s no doubt about it – Liverpool got away with one here. But City’s penalty was the only big chance of the match as they created even less than Liverpool from open play – just 0.31 xG. Overall, the back four once again deserves a lot of credit for keeping them at bay, and their individual penalty errors aside, Lovren and VVD were statistically excellent.
The two men who impressed arguably the most on a statistical level were Henderson and Robertson – both contributing three tackles and one key pass, with Henderson managing two interceptions and three clearances, Robbo one interception and two clearances. Robbo also managed three out of Liverpool’s four dribbles in the match – a sure-fire sign of a team struggling in attack but was dribbled past once, unlike Hendo.
Liverpool have now conceded just three goals in eight league games and made it a record nine clean sheets in a row at Anfield in the Premier League. This is a team that is increasingly based on its solid defence, and even when you factor in the penalty given and those not, to hold City to just six shots in a game is a remarkable effort.
City and Aguero’s Joyless Run Continues
Man City and Pep Guardiola must be sick of Anfield. It remains over fifteen years since they won at the ground – their last victory eighteen games ago in all competitions since 2003. This was the eighth time in that period that they’ve failed to score, with Liverpool winning twelve of those games. It was also well documented that it was Sergio Aguero’s tenth game at Anfield and the tenth game in which he’s failed to score. City hate Anfield.
For Liverpool meanwhile, they’re now seven points better off than last year, but they’re back to two points up on the corresponding fixtures after they beat City in the same fixture last season. They remain unbeaten, and this remains their joint-best start to a Premier League season, alongside 96/97. Up the Reds.