Author Topic: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017  (Read 9642 times)

Offline BabuYagu

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Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« on: August 20, 2017, 12:06:38 AM »
Second game of the season and we face a relegation tipped side who are both compact and with either high defensive pressing (starting around 35 yards from goal) or deep defensive pressing (starting around 20 yards from goal). They happily gave up the left flank and our left back had far more touches than any other player on the pitch. Our left back's lack of explosiveness, coupled with his left footed crosses tending to lack power &/or be floated into the box favouring the defence meant the opposition were happy to stand off him and concede the entire left flank to him given his first touch was usually to cut inside back into the compact block and offered little to no threat around, behind or through it.


Expected Goals for our 0-2 defeat at this time last season

But enough of the 0-2 defeat to Burnley, this was an entirely different game, albeit with some clear similarities in terms of the type of opponent faced, when we faced them, and the fact our left back was our most common outlet for a pass.

I stated when Robertson was signed that this would be an important signing for us against low block teams. A left footed left back will allow us to better stretch teams horizontally which naturally creates more spaces in the central areas for our more creative players to thrive. Today, arguably, we didn't even have those creative players and yet we still did enough to crawl over the line with 3 points. It really doesn't matter at the moment how we got those points, just that we did. You take 4/6 points at this point in the season against two sides who historically come up as boggie sides. Add to that a 2-1 away in the UCL qualifier against a side unbeaten at home for 16 months and suddenly the first 3 results look decent even if performances have not looked impressive - yet.


Heat Map for Milner v Burnley (left) and Robertson v Palace (right)

A lot has been made of Robertson's crossing but those two boxes I have highlighted above should be even more encouraging to you. Milner's heat map shows who he came inside a lot in front of the block, or down the side of the block, but never really attacked the block itself and made any runs that would destabilise it, commit defenders draw central players out towards him and offer a real goal threat.

In comparison, that red square is Robertson getting in behind, or around the Palace right back several times during the game. The orange square is Robertson taking advantage of the space between the right back and right center back to attack the box itself. Everytime something happens in those areas, it will draw central players out of position and create space for our central players to get into goal scoring positions easier or shots under less pressure from balls into the box.

Getting back to his crosses - I'd like to point out again the value of putting the ball into dangerous areas hard an low. People are rightly praising Robertson's crossing but, in truth, he completed 0/8 crosses (according to opta). The 14th minute cross to Matip is actually deemed an unclaimed cross by opta - as in, keeper got fingers to it but didn´t claim the cross of clear it with his touch. When you compare the crossing of Milner (1/9 completed) & Robertson from the two games, the difference is in the threat the crosses posed to the defence. Robertson's were often played in early, from deeper areas, moving away from the keeper with defenders running towards their own goal. Milner's were from deeper, usually after coming inside on his right, curling towards the keeper with defenders set and able to attack the ball. The one cross Milner completed was him driving towards the byline, crossing left footed, floated to the back post.


Chances created for Milner v Burnley (left) and Robertson v Palace (right)

Despite Robertson technically not completing any crosses, 4 goalscoring opportunities happened as a direct result of his balls into the box and also was involved in the buildup to the goal with a little lay-off to Mane.

A look at the above "key passes" map shows you the difference in threat posed from the two left backs. One of Milners was a short corner which he passed to Lallana who carried it into the box and had a shot (xg value 0.05). The other three was bringing the ball inside onto his right foot and setting up Coutinho for a long range effort(xg values of 0.01, 0.03 and 0.04). Whereas Robertson's included a first time left footed cross off a short corner to the back post where Mane challenged a Palace defender for the ball which the keeper easily saved. The aforementioned chance Matip missed. These were the two biggest expected goal chances of the game with values of 0.5 and 0.67 respectively. His other chance created was a throughball in behind the fullback which Milner ran onto before hitting his shot right at the keeper from an angle (xg value 0.05).

In total - the creative output of Milner vs Burnley was valued at 0.18 expected assists(xA). This means that based on the quality of chances he created, you could reasonably expect to score 0.18 goals. Whereas Robertson's chances created were valued at 1.21 expected assists. The two shots he had himself also had an expected goal(xG) value of 0.07. To put Robertson's score in context - at Hull in 2014/15 his expected goals out for the entire season was xG 0.34 and xA 1.07. Last season on his return to the Premiership, his output for the entire season was xG 0.25 and xA 1.39. Once again just highlighting how hard it is to judge the attacking output of players at lower league sides.


Robertson demonstrates his best shotgun spin from his figure skating days before binning the skates to become a footballer

Criticism? I noticed his recovery runs are more of a jog than a run. A good example would be Puncheon's chance on the 41st minute. He is ahead of the ball for the whole passage of play on the left wing and never really breaks into a sprint to get back. It's actually a common problem with players who run harder forward than they do to get back. One of the reasons I wanted Keita as he seems to be the opposite (reminders of Mascherano). Against better sides, that will be a problem.


Also you have to give a lot of credit to Milner in the game. If you watch the chance Benteke had in the 55th minute, Robertson puts pressure on the ball and pushes play back into the Palace half. Robertson is now out of position and high up the pitch and any ball in behind him will expose his position. What we have seen recently with our midfield (e.g. Can against Hoffenheim when we conceded the penalty) the wide midfielder doesn't fill in for the full back when he presses high up the pitch. Milner did this excellently and, although Palace still created something from this passage of play, this was more due to Klavan's inability to deal with 1-v-1 situations than the midfield not filling in and covering behind the full back. Milner had tucked in but just wasn't able to help as Klavan failed to slow down Loftus-Cheek long enough for Milner to get round behind him and cover / double up.

Milner to Robertson (33 passes) and Robertson to Milner (31 passes) were the two biggest passing combinations in the game which just highlights how well the two players linked up throughout the game both defensively and offensively.


Other thoughts? We really need another player who can receive the ball at pace in tight spaces, turn on the ball, play through tight spaces if we are going to succeed against low block sides more often than not this season. At the moment we have Lallana, Coutinho and maybe Woodburn - all of whom we cannot rely on in the immediate future.


This shows the expected goals values of the chances created (left),
and the timeline of the game in terms of scoring chances (right).



Thoughts RAWK?
« Last Edit: August 20, 2017, 03:29:58 AM by BabuYagu »
Gonna stay behind at work and wait to see what happens.

I am betting some split arse and crying.

Offline BabuYagu

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2017, 02:52:58 AM »
Liverpool's pressing & where we engaged?



Firstly, looking at the heatmap you can see that, once again, we pushed traffic down our left once again in the direction of the arrows. The demilitarized zone - i.e. The large area enclosed in black lines - contained 0 defensive actions as we aimed to simply push the play into areas we wanted rather than win the ball back here. This makes sense also as Firmino -> Milner -> Robertson would be a tougher line to play through than Sturridge -> Gini -> Gomez.

The center of the pitch is always a hotspot in terms of defensive actions, particularly recoveries & interceptions obviously as its the area a lot of aimless passes and clearances end up in. However, three distinct hotspots could also be seen.

Hotspot 1 - Tackles near the point of the arrow, interceptions & recoveries in the hotspot. I suspect this is where a lot of the misplaced/rushed passes ended up as a result of our pressure higher up the pitch on that side. Klavan 7 actions, Robertson 6, Henderson 4, Firmino 2, Gomez & Solanke 1. This looks like the main pressing trap as the very high numbers are the 3 players who surrounded this zone. Surprised to see no Milner though, maybe he was the one doing the pressing higher up with Bobby that resulted in the misplaced passes here.

Hotspot 2 - Almost entirely interceptions and recoveries here. This is an area a lot of Palace attacks ended. Gomez 5 Matip & Bobby 4 Mane & Milner 2, Gini 1. I suspect this is an area a lot of cleared setpieces landed in given the high numbers for both Bobby & Mane in this area.

Hotspot 3 - The end of the demilitarized zone marks another hotspot as we draw a line in the sand letting them know they must turn right here or be engaged. Hendo 5, Gomez 4, Salah & Matip 3, Bobby 2, Robertson & Milner 1. I suspect this is an area is a lot of cleared attacking setpieces and other Palace clearances from balls into their box too.

Gonna stay behind at work and wait to see what happens.

I am betting some split arse and crying.

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2017, 04:07:55 PM »
Fascinating stuff these hotspots.
I have noticed a lot of sniping at Hendo in the post match thread, however my impression was that after the goal, when you would expect a reaction from Palace in terms of hoofing and chase or trying to commit forward, Hendo seemed to be sticking a boot in and tidying up with a real purpose. This meant we were able to keep the pressure on their defence, and more importantly retain the ball in their half.
BabuYagu, is it possible to analyse Hendo's play the way you have done with Milner etc.
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Offline SerbianScouser

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2017, 04:11:06 PM »
The main question about Robertson's crossing efficacy will be the number of players arriving in the box.

What I saw from his clips yesterday is that half the time there were only 1 or 2 players in the box for his crosses and that was the result of our poor build-up play yesterday - that tends to happen when your AMs are not on the same page nor particularly capable of excelling in tight spots which is how you create space in the final third.

In games where we execute our build-up play properly Robertson will have situations where 4-5 players arrive in the box at the same time which will bring the best out of his crossing that really looked exceptional yesterday.

It really is a mouthwatering prospect that potentially we can improve our penetration and creativity in wide areas because last season every single team that parked the bus at Anfield intentionally conceded spaces on the sides so they could maintain their compactness in the central area - so if Robertson keep this up teams that park the bus will find it impossible to ignore his threat and will have to stretch themselves horizontally which will then create vital spaces for us centrally.

Offline Purple Red

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2017, 09:29:48 PM »
I thought it was a very professional display. There was a lot of negativity floating around before this game for a variety of reasons so a win was crucial to lift the mood and get three points. The Coutinho situation, mixed with frustration in the transfer market and despair at our defending midweek, meant that this game was a must win. A must win against a team that has disproportionately frustrated us in recent seasons. In light of Spurs and Arsenal getting beat, two of our direct competitors for top four, it is an even more important result.

The main talking points, in my opinion, are the following:

A debut to remember
Probably the most interesting aspect of the much changed line up was Klopp's decision to play our new left back, Andy Robertson. An £8 million signing from Hull, there has been a muted reaction to his signing. The majority of fans were relieved to sign a specialist left back given Milner's obvious limitations playing there as a natural midfielder. Moreno supporters and detractors alike were also in agreement that he needed competition. After three years of disappointment from Moreno, it is clear that we needed a specialist left back. Realistically, little was known about Robertson. Playing in a poor Hull side after beginning his career in his native Scotland, knowledge of him was always going to be limited. Most people relied on a number of informative articles and podcasts posted in the transfer forum of this website. These told a story of a player who was calm and collected going forward if a little questionable in defence. Fans awaited with interested their first chance to properly guage him themselves.



What a debut. Few players, particularly in defence, have made such an impression on their debut in recent seasons. Liverpool fans will care not to remember the debut of defenders like Skrtel, who succumbed to the nerves of the occasion. There was no such problem with Robertson. Bar one nervy clearance early in the game, he was calm and composed throughout. He showed the maturity of a regular first team member and of a more experienced player at this level. One of the most striking aspects of his performance was how unfazed he seemed to look even when things didn't quite go his way. When crosses didn't meet their target or shots went wayward, he turned and jogged back to his position in order to get on with his job. There weren't any looks of anguished panic which are so typical of players that are out of their depth.

His mentality was matched by his footballing skills. He didn't have much to do defensively but what he needed to do he did it calmly and efficiently. Moreno critics will be pleased with his unwillingness to dive into challenges that he has little chance of winning. He knew when to stand up and shepherd opponents into difficult positions. When he had to tackle he did so with accuracy and conviction. He always looked in control in his defensive duties. He forced the opponents he challenged to do all the hard work which usually led to their efforts breaking down.

Perhaps most surprising was the enthusiasm with which he threw himself into attack. A young player making his debut for a club like Liverpool could be forgiven for wanting to put in a conservative performance but Robertson did the opposite. When he received the ball in dangerous areas he wasn't afraid to wrap his left foot around the ball and get it into the danger area. On another day he would have had an assist had Joel Matip's finishing not been so lacking. It wasn't only those well struck crosses that impressed. His movement and sharpness of passing in the final third of the pitch was extremely effective. He had an understanding of the quick passing triangles that benefit players like Mané in transitions. He showed a deft touch in tight situations and did not lose the ball in many scenarios in which a defender would be forgiven for doing so.

It is early days. It will be interesting to see how Robertson copes when he comes up against a better side because, with all due respect, Palace were dreadful. However, he showed maturity beyond his years and it looks extremely promising. For me, he was Man of the Match.

A makeshift midfield

When the teamsheet was announced there were understandable concerns about what looked like a midfield trio lacking in creativity. Indeed, some of these concerns were justified and it transpired throughout the match that this is a midfield trio that should only really play together when circumstances dictate that they do. Henderson, Wijnaldum and Milner are all good professionals with plenty of ability between them but it is clear that their skillsets somewhat nullify each other. That said, it wasn't a terrible performance from the trio. Henderson and Wijnaldum in particular have been singled out for some criticism with that of the latter being more justifed than the former.


First of all, congratulations are in order for Giono Wijnaldum. His wife was due to give birth this weekend (and may already have done so for all I know) so I'm sure everyone at RAWK want to wish him well. One would also hope that was the main reason he was a tad anonymous, his mind being elsewhere. It is a frequent criticism of Wijnaldum that he is a passenger and it is flaring up again after our first three games this season. The problem with Wijnaldum is that he needs creative players alongside him for his talent at keeping things ticking along nicely to be appreciated. When there is no creativity in the middle of the park, like yesterday, his simple play can be frustrating. Let's hope the resolution of the Coutinho situation, or a midfield addition, will bring out the best in Gini again as he seems to be the type of player who needs to feel his way into a season.

Henderson didn't do much wrong either. It is important to remember that he is still trying to achieve full fitness. He sprayed some nice balls about and helped the defence out on the rare occasion that Palace carried a threat through the middle. Again, though, like with Wijnaldum Henderson's limitations are magnified by the lack of a more dynamic player in the middle of the park like Lallana or Coutinho. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that he imposed himself on the game much better than Wijnaldum did and played one glorious ball over the top which could easily have been an assist. The hope with Henderson is that he can get back to full fitness for the whole season because that's when he really thrives.

As for Milner, many despaired when they saw his name on the teamsheet in the middle of the park, myself included. There is a growing consensus amongst Liverpool fans that while Milner did an admirably professional job last season in covering our lack of a competent left back, he should simply be a squad player at best this season. Indeed, there was little in this performance to suggest that he should be a starter, even at LB given Robertson's superb debut. That said, he had a solid game. He was professional and combative in the middle of the park. He didn't lose possession of the ball and was rarely wasteful. Given our limited midfield options, it is good to know he can step in when needed because Can's inconsistent development is still an issue.

All in all, this midfield got the job done but Liverpool really do need to consider adding more options in this part of the field.

A rare clean sheet

A shambolic defensive display in the first half of our crucial CL qualifier a few days after haemhorraging three goals against Watford had put the issue of our defence firmly on the agenda again. Klopp made three changes to the defence with the game on Wednesday in mind - with Klavan, Robertson and Gomez replacing Lovren, Moreno and TAA respectively - but the solid performance yesterday will have given him food for thought. Robertson's calm and assured display was in stark contrast with Moreno's erratic, risky play and Klavan's cool approach was the exact opposite of Lovren's head staggers as well. Gomez should also be pleased with his efforts in his rehabilitation from injury.


Klavan has come in for some strong criticism since his arrival at Liverpool last summer from Augsburg in Germany. A cut price signing, he was always meant to be defensive cover. However, as a result of Matip's frequent injury issues last season he had to be over deployed. As a back up defender, though, we can really have few complaints about him. He was very solid yesterday bar one critical error which Benteke should have punished. He needs to eliminate those type of errors from his game but he was otherwise impassable. It will be interesting to see how Lovren does upon his return, as it quite clear that the removal of Moreno's disruptive influence at left back brings a bit more calm and stabilty to the back four.

Matip was very enjoyable to watch once again. He remains one of the steals of the summer last year on a free transfer. He came in for some criticism following his display against Watford last week but he really is a fine player. Unfortunately, some view him through the prism of his lanky frame and think he is not a dominant enough player. While he may lack the physique of a traditional, dominant defender - he more than makes up for it with his technique, strength and cool approach to the game. It remains to be seen whether Liverpool will ever land VVD but Matip will compliment whoever he plays alongside this season.

Mané in among the goals again


There's not much more that can be said about this lad other than he is just utterly brilliant. Comparatively quiet yesterday, he ws still one of our most threatening players. Shifting to his favoured left hand side early in the game, he soon became an important outlet. He linked up well with Robertson and was constantly looking to be involved. The goal was classic Mané. Pace and determination. If he stays fit all year he will score a bucket load of goals. As someone pointed out in one of the threads here, the reason we don't need a 20 goal a season striker is that we already have a 20 goal a season man.

He will face competition in the goal stakes from our new Egyptian winger. Mo didn't really get into the game in his time on the pitch but his quality was apparent. His first burst down the right hand side of the pitch resulted in chaos in the box from which we really should have scored. He also rose above much bigger Palace players to get a header on target as well. He forced a great save with a lovely curled effort towards the end. Salah is going to be involved in a lot of goals this season, whether he is creating them or nipping in and scoring. In this market, it is insane that Mané and Salah combined cost less than one Paul Pogba or one Romelu Lukaku.

Fans were pleased to see the return of Daniel Sturridge after another injury setback in pre-season. At this stage, it's just a matter of enjoying him on the pitch while we are fortunate enough to have him. He didn't get a lot to do in the game but he still oozes class with some of his touches and turns. He needs to get back in amongst the goals to be truly back at his best though. Perhaps more interesting was another promising showing from young Dominic Solanke off the bench. He showed strength and determination to force the goalscoring situation for Mané and could may well be another steal.

Conclusion

This was a routine win. It is unlikely to be remembered for either positive or negative reasons. That does not take away from its importance. Liverpool needed the three points yesterday to brighten up what has been a pretty difficult few weeks for Reds. The fact that they showed grit and determination to grind it out should be viewed as a huge positive. Liverpool teams of the past would have faded after a relatively non-descript first half but yesterday they came out of the blocks flying and on another day could have won by two or three goals. Jurgen Klopp deserves credit for keeping them going until the end. There may be serious frustrations with our recruitment policy at the moment but until that is resolved we need to be squeezing every last bit of productivity out of our current squad. By the end of the summer the frustration of this window could be a distant memory. Whatever happens, with Jurgen Klopp at the helm it's going to be an interesting ride.


Offline topper1978

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2017, 12:13:49 AM »
I have nothing of value to contribute, my knowledge of football is far inferior to you guys. However I would like to say thanks, I learnt something today and thats not really something you can put a price on.
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Offline Dougle

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2017, 12:24:50 AM »
I have nothing of value to contribute, my knowledge of football is far inferior to you guys. However I would like to say thanks, I learnt something today and thats not really something you can put a price on.

Chalk it down, thanks so much guys.

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2017, 01:12:18 AM »

 In this market, it is insane that Mané and Salah combined cost less than one Paul Pogba or one Romelu Lukaku.


Our starting 11 cost less than Pogba and Lukaku

Mignolet      £9m
Gomez        £3.5m
Matip            Free
Klavan        £4.2m
Robertson   £8m
Wijnaldum   £25m
Henderson   £16m
Milner          Free
Firmino       £29m
Sturridge    £12m
Mané          £34m

Total        £140.7m             Pogba+ Lukaku = £164m

Offline GregCharrua

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2017, 01:45:41 AM »
Thanks again Babu, was looking forward and very curious if we'd see the same pattern (pushing attacks down our left). Excellent write up.

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2017, 08:39:30 AM »
Insightful OP Babu, heatmaps and analysis were very interesting, hope they'll be part of future roundtables.  :wave
And a a great additional summary, Purple!
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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2017, 11:56:19 AM »
Thanks to Babu and others for some great posts.

I don't have the expertise or time to dig through the stats on this one, but my impressions were:

-Robertson gets a lot of whip on his crosses. Slammed in hard and aiming for the dangerous area just in front of the keeper. If it finds a man in red there it is probably going in. very hard to defend. I felt our crosses were to easy to deal with last season. Too often they were floated into the penalty spot with no pace on it.

I was impressed by his short passing and one-twos in and around the box too.

One thought - who is getting on the end of those crosses? I worry a little that those crosses are best finished by a right footer near the back post. Is Salah good enough with his right to slot them away? Does Firmino have the timing to get on the end of those and the finishing to put them away regularly? I hope so. Mane would be perfect to be the target of those balls, but if he is more often than not on the left I don't think he will be in the right place for them.

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2017, 01:09:18 PM »
So what was wrong with the midfield - if anything?

Firstly, a couple of observations/assertions, to be discussed in more detail:

- In the first half, Milner and Wijnaldum swapped their basic left/right starting position for brief but noticeable periods (5-7 minutes at a time, perhaps, several times). As we were focused down the left (particularly in the first half), this perhaps was designed to give a player a brief 'breather' when being on the right, expected to get up and down to combine with Robertson and Firmino when on the left.

- Out of possession, we played a standard 433. In possession... we didn't. It would be tempting to call it a 4231, but because of the asymmetry running throughout the side, it wasn't that either. (In possession with attacking fullbacks is never really a '4' at all, but discussing that every time becomes a bit tedious). Overall we were probably something like a 3241, but the 4 was heavily biased to the left, particularly in the first half.

- Wijnaldum didn't touch the ball much (for those particularly incandescent about it, here's a little extra fuel: probably more than a fifth of the touches he did have were simply to receive a throw in and knock it back to the taker). He wasn't the only one though, and there's a pattern to that, too: surely the most pertinent discussion point is why.

So, those heat maps to prove how invisible Wijnaldum was. Actually just the one, for the first half, because the second almost is infact invisible.



Clearly, there's no analysis which makes that 'good' in terms of having a direct impact on the game. But (as I've been trying to establish in the Wijnaldum thread), what is the context of that lack of impact?

Firstly, let me justify my observations that a) Wijnaldum and Milner switched several times in that first half (clue: Wijnaldum supposedly playing to the right, but see his 1H heatmap above) and b) that Milner and Henderson were largely the '2' in midfield - with first half heatmaps for Milner (left) and Henderson (right):



What I believe this shows, is that Milner's pattern of activity is closer to Henderson's than to Wijnaldum's (even more so in the second half), though is a bit of a hybrid of both. But the two distinct areas of activity for both Milner and Henderson show that they acted as a '2' - slanted slightly (as BY describes in the 2nd post in terms of our 'pressing traps' and directing play down our left), with the right sided CM getting a little over the halfway line, the left operating mostly a little behind it. The only real difference is that when Milner was on the left, he also combined down the left with Robertson; Henderson did not. When Milner moved to the right, Wijnaldum combined with Robertson, Henderson sat in on the left to get on the ball and make passes. But note that Wijnaldum barely features in those two deeper hotspots at all; even less than he featured anywhere else.

So in possession, we operated a two in midfield. Wijnaldum got ahead of the ball, to be available for passes and to combine with the front three - and Robertson.

Hmmm.

Wijnaldum wasn't alone in a lack of impact on the ball in the first half. Here are the first half heatmaps for Firmino (left), for the whole of the front four (centre) - and with Robertson thrown in as well (right):



Essentially, we did nothing down the right. We did virtually nothing down the centre, and even to the left of centre we barely managed to encroach on the box itself. Not only that, but Firmino had very little impact on the left - where he was notionally playing. Mane's map (not shown above) is as quiet as Wijnaldum's. Sturridge's likewise, but for one blob left-of-centre, about 25-30 yards out, which might literally be the clever turn and short run before shooting over the bar.

The front three essentially weren't getting on the ball - except to link up with Robertson, or attempt to get on the end of one his crosses. Neither was Wijnaldum; so was Wijnaldum suffering from the same root cause as the rest of the front four, or was he the missing piece that caused their dysfunction?



Those are first half passes, by Milner and Henderson. Between them, perhaps five passes in and around zone 14; one successful. Almost all passes from anywhere inside the opposition half are to one flank or the other - mostly left. Henderson in particular really struggling with accuracy on forward passes; both appearing unwilling to make almost any vertical passes at all.

Note, while certain other points improved a touch in the second half - and the midfield two became even more fixed - this reluctance to play vertical balls into the forward line (and Henderson's inaccuracy) continued.



The balance of attacking play improved somewhat in the second half, but we still struggled to do much of anything with the ball centrally around the edge of the area (first image is all of the front four, including substitutes; second is whole team):



Wijnaldum didn't get on the ball enough, particularly in central areas in the opposition half and close to the penalty area. But to a large degree, no one else did either. We only really began to do so when Salah came on and Firmino moved into the centre; and then from square balls inside from the wide areas, not from Milner/Henderson.

Is Wijnaldum's lack of impact cause or effect? How much responsibility does the front four take for lack of effective movement - or were they just not picked out? Given the personnel in that front four - and without dissecting every single possession phase - it seems unlikely to have been primarily a problem of movement. Good defensive work from Palace's midfield? Or a lack of ambition in direction of passing from Liverpool's two central midfielders who dominated the ball?

« Last Edit: August 21, 2017, 01:44:17 PM by redmark »
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Offline Suareznumber7

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2017, 01:53:31 PM »
So what was wrong with the midfield - if anything?

Firstly, a couple of observations/assertions, to be discussed in more detail:

- In the first half, Milner and Wijnaldum swapped their basic left/right starting position for brief but noticeable periods (5-7 minutes at a time, perhaps, several times). As we were focused down the left (particularly in the first half), this perhaps was designed to give a player a brief 'breather' when being on the right, expected to get up and down to combine with Robertson and Firmino when on the left.

- Out of possession, we played a standard 433. In possession... we didn't. It would be tempting to call it a 4231, but because of the asymmetry running throughout the side, it wasn't that either. (In possession with attacking fullbacks is never really a '4' at all, but discussing that every time becomes a bit tedious). Overall we were probably something like a 3241, but the 4 was heavily biased to the left, particularly in the first half.

- Wijnaldum didn't touch the ball much (for those particularly incandescent about it, here's a little extra fuel: probably more than a fifth of the touches he did have were simply to receive a throw in and knock it back to the taker). He wasn't the only one though, and there's a pattern to that, too: surely the most pertinent discussion point is why.

Is Wijnaldum's lack of impact cause or effect? How much responsibility does the front four take for lack of effective movement - or were they just not picked out? Given the personnel in that front four - and without dissecting every single possession phase - it seems unlikely to have been primarily a problem of movement. Good defensive work from Palace's midfield? Or a lack of ambition in direction of passing from Liverpool's two central midfielders who dominated the ball?

I think the pass maps can explain to some degree why Wijnaldum was so ineffective in this game.  Looking at the image below, you can see that we attacked almost exclusively down the left hand side which is the side that Milner was playing on.  In addition, even though Firmino was playing as a wide player he was taking up the same spaces that he does when he plays as a false 9.  Add to that, Mane playing more central then usual and this basically squeezes out any space for Wijnaldum to use.   



If we look at the pass map for the Watford or the Hoffenheim game we will see a more balanced attack which gives our midfield players more space to play in.  And,maybe the real reason Wijnaldum struggled to make an impact in this match.  Gomez playing at right back instead of Trent. 




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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2017, 01:58:20 PM »
i know it's not really a great thread to ask this but does anyone have a 90min highlight link for this game?
I would honestly let Wijnaldum jizz in my face right now

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2017, 02:06:19 PM »
Cheers for the kind words everyone! :)

BabuYagu, is it possible to analyse Hendo's play the way you have done with Milner etc.

I'll be paying more attention to Henderson in the future. I tend to look for things during the game (e.g. I wanted to see how Milner-Robertson worked before the game) and so whatever I was going to write here would heavily focus on that. It just so happened to be the most important aspect of our attacking play - but regardless it is what I would have written on even if Robertson had a solid if unspectacular debut, or an unmitigated disaster.

I have a big worry about our midfield. I noticed a weird thing with Henderson & Gini in that Gini was dropping in as a #6 a lot and leaving Henderson to attack the box. That is bizarre to say the least considering Gini is our best midfielder in hitting the box with late runs. Henderson is our best midfielder at circulating the ball and rangey passes. Therefore ideally you want Henderson as the pivot outside of play and Gini supporting the attack based on their skill sets.

I also noticed, and mentioned in the other thread, that you could put a fence around a zone in midfield for Milner & Henderson were 80%+ of their play occurred. So they have a clearly marked position on the pitch. Gini was literally all over the place with little blobs here, there and everywhere.

So I watched back the start of the second half again and noticed that Gini is avoiding the ball mostly. Instead of showing for it, which would result in him receiving the ball with Puncheon tight behind him, he was trying to move Puncheon around to open up the passing lane into the forwards. E.g. Henderson gets the ball deep off the defence. Instead of Gini showing for the pass he starts moving wide left towards Gomez. He is then a non-option for a pass as the risk of interception would be too high given the distance of pass and proximity of Puncheon. However, with Puncheon tracking him it means a space appears in the midfield line for Henderson to play through. However, there was also a limit to how far Puncheon would follow Gini before quickly returning to his position so it was limited in it's use.

Gini was also dropping back next to Hendo & hoping Puncheon would follow him. When he did, this created the same space again. When he didn't Gini would become the free man. However, in those instances Henderson still wasn't giving the ball to him, instead looking to the left every time.

I'm not sure what to make that to be honest. I wouldn't be surprised to hear Gini was carrying an injury that he could manage with pain killers at the moment. It would be an injury that doesn't hinder his running, as he is covering an outrageous amount of ground, but that perhaps hinders his range of motion when striking the ball. As a central midfield your job is mostly to make spaces to receive the ball but also to make some movements to create underloads & overloads.

Almost all Gini's midfield movements at the moment are the latter. He is there to provide movement in midfield but not get on the ball himself. For example - if you are playing on the left side of midfield and move to the right. If you are marked, then that just created a space on the left side of midfield that someone else needs to fill. This means all surrounding players have greater spaces to cover and therefore margins of error reduce. It also makes it easier for players to run off their man. If, however, he isn't marked, then you now have an overload on the right side with the extra man. This makes combination play in that area much simpler as there is always a free man. If they don't press the freeman in that area when he gets the ball, and he chooses to run at people, eventually he has to be closed down which will leave someone else free. Barcelona use these patterns of play a lot.

The real worry for me is that a midfield 3 of Henderson, Milner & Can would really struggle to move the ball from defence to attack against a low block. Gini might be doing very little at the moment but he is making space and angles for others on the ball to take advantage us. I worry that Milner, Can or Hendo receiving the ball to feet tightly marked would struggle to find ways to move the ball forward at the moment.
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Offline redmark

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2017, 02:06:21 PM »
I think the pass maps can explain to some degree why Wijnaldum was so ineffective in this game.  Looking at the image below, you can see that we attacked almost exclusively down the left hand side which is the side that Milner was playing on.  In addition, even though Firmino was playing as a wide player he was taking up the same spaces that he does when he plays as a false 9.  Add to that, Mane playing more central then usual and this basically squeezes out any space for Wijnaldum to use.   



I think there can be an issue with those pass maps though, with any team which has some movement upfront - and almost completely messed up by tactical changes. It takes average positions for 90 minutes, then overlays passing combinations - but in doing so can produce very misleading images.

Take the passing lines shown there from Henderson to Mane and Firmino. Yes, that gives the impression of passes into them in areas where Wijnaldum would normally operate. But Henderson didn't play a pass (successfully) as vertical as the image 'suggests', in those areas, all game. His successful passes to those players were when they were in a wide position in any given passage of play.



The average positions of Firmino and Mane over the course of the game distort the image. Apart from an occasional passage of play, Mane was never central - he was mostly right in the first half, mostly left in the second - so his average position over the 90 is central. It's misleading, I think, in this context.


« Last Edit: August 21, 2017, 02:09:52 PM by redmark »
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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2017, 02:17:14 PM »
Apart from an occasional passage of play, Mane was never central - he was mostly right in the first half, mostly left in the second - so his average position over the 90 is central. It's misleading, I think, in this context.

Mane playing on both sides obviously distorts the image quite a bit.  I agree with that.  However, I think my point still stands that the reason Wijandlum had so little effect on the game was because we predominately played down the left.  That, more then likely, is also why Mane moved to the left in the second half. 

On a side note, can I ask where you got those passing line images from?

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2017, 02:20:26 PM »
Mane playing on both sides obviously distorts the image quite a bit.  I agree with that.  However, I think my point still stands that the reason Wijandlum had so little effect on the game was because we predominately played down the left.  That, more then likely, is also why Mane moved to the left in the second half. 
I agree - but that was largely what I said in my post: we didn't pass through the centre, we passed wide - mostly left.


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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2017, 02:22:41 PM »

Thanks for the heat maps and the analysis. At first after reading BabuYagu's initial post I was thinking that Klopp had planned for all our attacking to be down the left.


But after seeing redmark's passing diagrams, with Milner and Hendo passing left and right but not up the middle, I wonder if it is down to their comfort levels rather than grand design. Maybe a combination of both?
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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2017, 02:43:34 PM »


Here is all the defensive actions of Hendo, Milner & Gini.

Firstly, look at how Milner was an auxiliary left back in this game. Secondly, Henderson did a LOT of defensive work. Third, it looks like Milner and Henderson both did more defensive work on his side of the pitch than Gini did.

A couple things to note here which are quite rare and lend support to the idea that Gini might be carrying an injury.

1. Gini starts on the right (normally left) as he is the hardest midfielder to play through. We tend to push attacks from right to left on the pitch. This means Gini is playing on the side that is the lightest workload defensively.
2. He was subbed off on 70 minutes which is really rare as he is probably our fittest player based on what Dirk Kuyt has said previously. Looking at how often he was subbed off last season would support this too (e.g. from 3 January, he played every minute for us in the league bar Hull where he was unused sub, and the final 2 minutes against Southampton when he was brought off for Grujic).
3. He wasn´t showing for the ball, as mentioned in my previous post. Instead using movement to open up passing lanes and create underloads/overloads.
4. Henderson was supporting the attack with Gini sitting in as the 6 at times which negates the strongest parts of each of their game.
5. All Gini's defensive work happened in the first 15 minutes of the match. After that Milner & Henderson did all the defensive work on that side of the pitch it seems. Or he delegated pressing the ball to Gomez while he covered.



Then you have the distribution maps for the 3 midfielders. Is it just me or was Wijnaldum consciously avoiding the central area of the pitch? His movement tending towards the outsides of the pitch to open up the central passing lanes for Milner and Henderson? It's really rare to see a central midfielder not receive the ball in the middle of the pitch. Even more rare to see a right sided central midfield take more touches on the left than in the middle and right combined.

If you break that down:-
Area of the Pitch Passes
Left Flank 8
Left Half-Space 7
Center 4
Right Half-Space 6
Left Flank 3


That's very strange indeed.
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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2017, 02:48:08 PM »
i know it's not really a great thread to ask this but does anyone have a 90min highlight link for this game?

I have a SPOILER FREE thread where you can find links to games pretty easily.

Here is the link to the Palace game.

Reddit have a new thread here for those interested for matches played until 25 August 2017. Has scores for a number of games I won´t be watching.

Tottenham v Chelsea 7.5/10
Lyon v Bordeaux 8/10
Juve v Cagliari 8/10
Southampton v West Ham 9/10

They seem like the best of the games scored so far if anybody is looking for some random games to watch.

19-Aug-2017 Premier League Game 2
Liverpool v Palace


4.5 / 10

Links for full game & highlights in here.
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Offline redmark

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2017, 03:03:24 PM »
Then you have the distribution maps for the 3 midfielders. Is it just me or was Wijnaldum consciously avoiding the central area of the pitch? His movement tending towards the outsides of the pitch to open up the central passing lanes for Milner and Henderson? It's really rare to see a central midfielder not receive the ball in the middle of the pitch. Even more rare to see a right sided central midfield take more touches on the left than in the middle and right combined.

That's very strange indeed.

They didn't use them, though. Which (along with the much more subjective impressions of the movement of Wijnaldum and others) suggests to me not that Wijnaldum was moving to the flanks deliberately, but that those were the only times he received the ball. We just didn't pass vertically in the centre of the pitch - in the final third at all, in the opposition half, only a handful of times - to Wijnaldum, to Firmino, to Sturridge, to anyone. And as I posted above, Wijnaldum and Milner switched a fair bit and their responsibilities differed on each side.

On the question of whether he's carrying an injury, that's possible. His distance covered per minute is almost identical to Henderson's, rather less than Milner's. Not looked at that much previously to know whether he normally covers more, though.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2017, 03:30:53 PM by redmark »
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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2017, 03:33:44 PM »
Thanks for the heat maps and the analysis. At first after reading BabuYagu's initial post I was thinking that Klopp had planned for all our attacking to be down the left.


But after seeing redmark's passing diagrams, with Milner and Hendo passing left and right but not up the middle, I wonder if it is down to their comfort levels rather than grand design. Maybe a combination of both?

To be honest, you cannot pass through a low block. Everything tends to go side to side or down the flanks. The way to change that pattern is having players like Coutinho / Lallana / Silva / Isco / Iniesta etc. Players who are comfortable being tightly marked, receiving the ball at pace and turning their marker to open up play. To run and commit players. To draw players out of their position towards them to deal with the threat.

In the absence of this type of player it seems we tried to use Gini's movement to open up central passing lanes but, in the main, attacking the block in from the left side.

Here is a good example of the difference such a player makes by the way.



Coutinho has 1 good passing option here, which is back from where the ball came. That would then result in a long ball from our left back. He could square it (yellow option) but he is tightly marked and would be pressed from both sides. He cannot play anyballs forward because of the cover shadows of the three players in front of him. He cannot turn to the right flank to switch play without risking losing the ball either. So what does he do?



He feints, then takes his first touch towards our left back, this draws the player blocking the right flank towards blocking the pass to the left back, the then turns him and has now opened up the right flank as shown above. He is now driving with the ball towards their number 4. If they continue backing off Coutinho will just run at them all day. If #4 decides to shut him down he can pass right or Lallana or play in Firmino. If #27 steps out to stop him he can be beaten either side and would totally open up the pitch and Liverpool have a big overload on with Lallana, Salah & Coutinho all able to drive at the defence behind their midfield.



The #4 stops backtracking to try and challenge Coutinho. The second he does, Coutinho gives it to Firmino and immediately tries to burst past the #4. As all the momentum is with Coutinho, and pass into the space behind him favours Coutinho now. However, Salah is now moving out of shot towards the action too to give Bobby another option which he takes. Liverpool have now broken the press and are in behind the Leicester midfield.



I have now highlighted the Leicester players who have been taken out of the game in the last 5 seconds. The white circle out of shot is the Leicester forward who was pressing Coutinho on his left. The light blue circles are Leicester's entire midfield. The darker blue circle is the right back who pressed Firmino. Liverpool now have a 3 v 3. Marked in black are the options available to Salah in terms of running if he is aware of the space he is in. If he doesn't realise he is unmarked or wants to take advantage of Coutinho's momentum he can try to play him in. Unfortunately a bad touch sees him tackled by a Leicester player and the move breaks down.

But that should give you an idea what we are missing at the moment. The likes of Keita, Coutinho, Lallana were all part of Klopp's plan to start the season, all of which are very capable of turning in tight spaces and opening up the pitch, or driving at opponents with the ball. Instead he has none of them and seems to be looking for tactical solutions to his problems instead of personnel ones now.
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Offline BabuYagu

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2017, 03:36:54 PM »
They didn't use them, though. Which (along with the much more subjective impressions of the movement of Wijnaldum and others) suggests to me not that Wijnaldum was moving to the flanks deliberately, but that those were the only times he received the ball. We just didn't pass vertically in the centre of the pitch - in the final third at all, in the opposition half, only a handful of times - to Wijnaldum, to Firmino, to Sturridge, to anyone. And as I posted above, Wijnaldum and Milner switched a fair bit and their responsibilities differed on each side.

On the question of whether he's carrying an injury, that's possible. His distance covered per minute is almost identical to Henderson's, rather less than Milner's. Not looked at that much previously to know whether he normally covers more, though.

I actually watched the first 15-20 minutes of the second half again last night and he definitely is moving away from the ball, usually center > right to open up passing lanes. He is often removing himself as a passing option to do so while simultaneously moving Puncheon with him.

When his starting position is far from the ball already, meaning movement away from the ball would be ineffective, he instead drops vertically towards the ball intending to pull Puncheon out of shape with him. However, this mostly resulted in Puncheon dropping a yard or two, then leaving him to be a free man in front of the block.
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Offline redmark

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2017, 03:51:58 PM »
I actually watched the first 15-20 minutes of the second half again last night and he definitely is moving away from the ball, usually center > right to open up passing lanes. He is often removing himself as a passing option to do so while simultaneously moving Puncheon with him.
Someone didn't tell Henderson and Milner (or Matip or Klavan; or perhaps the forwards to make the runs) about the plan, then :) - because they didn't use those passing lanes. Henderson tried a few over the top, but not vertically into anyone's feet centrally. It's clear as day from the passing maps that we had a clear 'hole' around zone 14: we just didn't pass into it. In the first half, we barely entered it at all; in the second, only from sideways balls from advanced positions on the flanks.

It's a distinctly odd game to review; I don't recall too many where we've virtually ignored that area. And I'm not convinced that was entirely deliberate; because we didn't know Robertson was going to have such a good game. We may have been confident in his ability and in his beating of Ward for pace, but there was no guarantee a player making his debut at Anfield would cope that well. The plan must have included some penetration centrally. Or perhaps we're not giving Palace enough credit for shutting down the centre.
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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #25 on: August 21, 2017, 04:00:39 PM »
Btw - watching on the highlights from the Leicester v Liverpool game, it's noticeable that Leicester stopped getting tight to Coutinho after that. He then started picking them to pieces with long, chipped passes including one for Salah to head in on 19 minutes. After that, the started getting tighter and pressing him again :D
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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #26 on: August 21, 2017, 04:10:08 PM »
Someone didn't tell Henderson and Milner (or Matip or Klavan; or perhaps the forwards to make the runs) about the plan, then :) - because they didn't use those passing lanes. Henderson tried a few over the top, but not vertically into anyone's feet centrally. It's clear as day from the passing maps that we had a clear 'hole' around zone 14: we just didn't pass into it. In the first half, we barely entered it at all; in the second, only from sideways balls from advanced positions on the flanks.

It's a distinctly odd game to review; I don't recall too many where we've virtually ignored that area. And I'm not convinced that was entirely deliberate; because we didn't know Robertson was going to have such a good game. We may have been confident in his ability and in his beating of Ward for pace, but there was no guarantee a player making his debut at Anfield would cope that well. The plan must have included some penetration centrally. Or perhaps we're not giving Palace enough credit for shutting down the centre.
What Gini was doing was largely ineffective because Puncheon would only shift 2-5 yards from his shape and then move back. You can see the intention though when you watch it back was certainly there.

Those movements do 1 of 2 things. Open up passing lanes / create a free man & overload. The interesting thing was that we would then ignore the overloads and just go left everytime anyway. Gini was definitely moving away from the center band of the pitch though off the ball, that much is very noticeable watching it back.

Our failure to go through Palace is due to not having a player such as Coutinho as mentioned above. I suspect we will have some problems ahead of us if that doesn't change. Thankfully the Arsenal and Hoffenheim games will more be transitional battles and counter attacks than possession dominant performances trying to break down a block. We same very ill-equipped for the latter on this showing. We won't be having a left back put up a seasons worth of expected assist numbers for us every time with 2 or 3 clear cut chances created. More often than not in these games, the full backs actions will cause disruption in their shape giving the attacking players more space rather than being the threat themselves. So we need to be cautious about seeing Robertson's failure to put up similar performances in future as a failure on his part, or that he is a one game wonder. If he continued in this vein he would be creating more chances than Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling and Sane combined on average per game. :D
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Offline Art of Lies

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #27 on: August 21, 2017, 05:07:46 PM »
What Gini was doing was largely ineffective

Great discussion in here, very illuminating. I was also very pleased with the way Robertson played, his last ball looks dangerous and I can see us scoring quite a few goals due to those whipped low crosses.

Interesting that you conclude that Gini spent a lot of the game attempting to pull Puncheon out of position, without much effect. He doesn't seem the type of player to be doing that without it being a clear instruction from staff so I find it strange that he persisted with it for so long if it was that ineffective. I do think that Redmark is onto something though, ever since Gini started to get heavily criticised last season I have kept a eye on him and I have also noticed how little some of our players seem to pass the ball to him when I expected it, or when he was available for a pass, I don't know if it is just not part of the plan to pass it on the floor through midfield with speed to avoid low-block teams settling when they are out of position or some other factor, including possible bias on my part obviously. My initial thinking was that it happened most when there was nobody for him to link with, be it Lallana/Coutinho not being available or Coutinho and Firmino not dropping deep sometimes. I could of course be completely mistaken in thinking we are really effective when our players link up well and pass decisively, even through a supposedly packed midfield. That works in attack to unlock teams so why not the transition from defensive midfield to attack? Because of all these questions I am really looking forward to your analysis of our midfield, and obviously because I know how little I know about football, well beyond being curious and knowing what I do and don't enjoy seeing that is.
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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #28 on: August 21, 2017, 05:43:19 PM »
Thanks for great posts. I find it's best to stay away from other threads and mostly stick to round tables and match Previews.

Regarding Hendersons job in the team.. I find it quite difficult to see his importance in the system. What is his job, and is he basically meant to keep it neat and tidy? Much complaining that he is not good enough etc. I wonder is he as important as Roberto is up front - in midfield?
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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #29 on: August 21, 2017, 05:50:06 PM »
Thanks for great posts. I find it's best to stay away from other threads and mostly stick to round tables and match Previews.

Regarding Hendersons job in the team.. I find it quite difficult to see his importance in the system. What is his job, and is he basically meant to keep it neat and tidy? Much complaining that he is not good enough etc. I wonder is he as important as Roberto is up front - in midfield?

Henderson does the most defensive work in our midfield, usually mopping up behind our two #8s. He also is the most aerially competent midfielder (bar Can & Grujic) which is important in the #6 role as he has to deal with a lot of long aerial balls into that zone due to the way we press full backs into rushed balls down the flanks. He is averaging 2 aerial balls won per 90 at the moment for us this season - which is on a par with most top La Liga and Serie A center backs.

In terms of in possession, he is the only rangey passer we have in the squad and the best player at switching play quickly from one side to the other - a vital tool in terms of breaking down a defence. He is also the quickest circulator of the ball in midfield, bar perhaps Gini.
Gonna stay behind at work and wait to see what happens.

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Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
« Reply #30 on: August 21, 2017, 06:20:27 PM »
Some interesting things to note.

    Aerial Duals
    • Benteke only won 1 aerial dual in our half on Saturday, on the right wing right on the touchline about 40 yards away from goal. We shut that shit down.
    • Palace as a whole only won 4  aerial dual in our half (2 in our box) on Saturday vs the 13 Watford won in our half (2 in our box also) the previous weekend.
    • The match had only 33 aerial duels in total (of which we won 20) compared to the 47 against Watford (of which we won 25).
    Crosses
    • Palace only put 6 crosses into our box vs the 16 faced v Watford.
    • We conceded 2 chances via set plays compared to the 4 vs Watford.
    Build up play
    • The average Liverpool passing move contained 6 passes vs the 4 faced v Watford.
    • Only 7,7% of our passes v Palace were long vs 14,2% v Watford.
    • We completed 2 through balls in both games.
    • We created 18 chances in open play vs 11 v Watford.
    Breaking up play
    • The average Palace passing move contained 3 passes vs the 4 faced v Watford.
    • 31,6% of Palace's passes were long vs 20,6% v Watford.
    • Palace completed 0 through balls against us compared to the 2 vs Watford.
    [/list]
    « Last Edit: August 22, 2017, 11:41:52 AM by BabuYagu »
    Gonna stay behind at work and wait to see what happens.

    I am betting some split arse and crying.

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    Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
    « Reply #31 on: August 21, 2017, 07:15:54 PM »
    What Gini was doing was largely ineffective because Puncheon would only shift 2-5 yards from his shape and then move back. You can see the intention though when you watch it back was certainly there.

    Those movements do 1 of 2 things. Open up passing lanes / create a free man & overload. The interesting thing was that we would then ignore the overloads and just go left everytime anyway. Gini was definitely moving away from the center band of the pitch though off the ball, that much is very noticeable watching it back.

    Our failure to go through Palace is due to not having a player such as Coutinho as mentioned above. I suspect we will have some problems ahead of us if that doesn't change. Thankfully the Arsenal and Hoffenheim games will more be transitional battles and counter attacks than possession dominant performances trying to break down a block. We same very ill-equipped for the latter on this showing. We won't be having a left back put up a seasons worth of expected assist numbers for us every time with 2 or 3 clear cut chances created. More often than not in these games, the full backs actions will cause disruption in their shape giving the attacking players more space rather than being the threat themselves. So we need to be cautious about seeing Robertson's failure to put up similar performances in future as a failure on his part, or that he is a one game wonder. If he continued in this vein he would be creating more chances than Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling and Sane combined on average per game. :D

    But we knew we didn't have Coutinho; and Wijnaldum was making movements either to make himself available for the ball, or to move Puncheon around (I'm not convinced that was the only reason and so far have focused on the first half rather than the first period of the second you're referring to). But in either case, that doesn't make any sense - if we're not going to follow it through. There's no point moving Puncheon, if you don't pass into the gap you've made in doing so. If you're not looking to make those passes, why bother moving Puncheon?

    Great - you've made me watch the first half again... :)

    First couple of minutes, Wijnaldum is RCM, moving around keeping ~ 10-15 yards in front or inside the ball, showing for passes without any significant movement away from the ball. No sign at this stage that we're focusing left. Underhits a 1-2 with Mane on the edge of the Palace box. On 2:55, perhaps significantly, shows for a pass to Gomez which is a little off target, get whacked on the ankle as he just gets to it first. On 4 minutes, the closest player to getting on the end of Robertson's first cross. At about 5 minutes, Wijnaldum is on the left and Milner right for the first time - following Milner taking a free kick from the right - they ignore a couple of opportunities to switch back until Milner presses to the left a couple of minutes later.

    Just before 9 minutes, Wijnaldum twice in a spell of possession gestures for the ball - once would have been vertically from Matip (looks frustrated not to have been passed to on that one), the second time as he ran beyond Firmino to inside-left, Firmino cutting inside/back to take the ball from a short pass from Robertson. A few seconds later, Matip does play a decent sharp vertical ball to Sturridge, who turns and tries to play Wijnaldum (still in an inside-left position) in between RCB and wingback, but Ward is alert and gets back. Clearance leads to the first bit of high counter pressing, before Robertson plays the ball inside the fullback for Milner to shoot at the keeper (Wijnaldum indicates he'd wanted it on the edge of the box, but probably wasn't the best option if it had been passed).

    (A few seconds after this Robertson makes an error miscuing a clearance, Milner recovers; less than two minutes later, pushes Ward over but not penalised). This is during a scrappy spell 10-13 minutes, where Palace have the ball or Liverpool a little aimless. Gomez plays a decent ball down the right for Sturridge, who doesn't have the pace to beat Van Anholt. No indication yet that Liverpool are particularly favouring the left (but that seems to be start imminently).

    Just before 13 minutes, Milner has gone right and Wijnaldum left again. Wijnaldum hasn't touched the ball for about 7 minutes at this stage, after 5 touches in the first six minutes (but, as at ~9 minutes, not for the want of trying). Wijnaldum then doubles his touches for the game, combining with Robertson and Firmino as they try to work an opening for Robertson on the overlap. From a resulting throw still on the left, Wijnaldum turns Ward (without touching the ball) and wins the free kick from which Robertson-Milner-Robertson creates the Matip header that should be 1-0 on 14 minutes. Wijnaldum goes back right, Milner left.

    So at 14 minutes, Wijnaldum has 10 touches and 7 successful passes, all but two around the inside left position; 2 positive non-touches (chasing the pass from Sturridge, winning the free kick from the throw) - and 3 moments around 9-10 minutes where he visibly wanted the ball but didn't get it.

    Around 16/17 minutes, he's drifting in the AM area, gradually moving left as the area is bypassed during a couple of brief direct end-to-end passages of play. A Milner tackle leaves him right of centre, so as Hennessy takes the ball at the end of a Mane run, Wijnaldum drops left (briefly, Henderson shapes RCM, Milner is central; which leads to Milner's second rather clumsy foul, central-ish 30 yards out). 18:30 - Mane counter broken, Palace long back pass to keeper, Wijnaldum continues ~50 yard run to pressure. Ball comes back, Firmino takes a quick throw, Wijnaldum has another couple of touches/passes with Firmino/Robertson on the left. Between 19:30-20:00 ignored for a pass three times by Robertson and once by Klavan, in quick succession; Robertson finally passes the ball right past Wijnaldum to Henderson to play his most vertical pass of the game so far; gives it away, Palace play into our RB corner for Benteke to chase. Henderson goes right, Wijnaldum centre and Milner left as we drop into shape; Palace concede free kick, Wijnaldum goes right and Henderson central. A quick sortie down the left (Robertson/Firmino) apart, Palace have the ball until 23rd minute.

    23:10, Gomez gives Wijnaldum a pass under pressure; Wijnaldum returns it to Gomez, who then gives it away trying to find Milner, who had made a similar drifting movement into the AM position while the buildup was on the opposite side. Wijnaldum makes his one and only tackle of the game. Milner-Sturridge-Mane, cross field ball behind Robertson for a Palace throw. By now, our moves down the left are showing some promise, but the right isn't producing anything.

    Got an appointment - will/may finish later. Wijnaldum has done 'ok' so far, been involved in buildup, won a useful free kick, got frustrated at being ignored a couple of times, made a long pressure run, etc. His biggest spell without touching the ball comes up shortly though, I believe...

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    Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
    « Reply #32 on: August 21, 2017, 08:44:53 PM »
    But we knew we didn't have Coutinho; and Wijnaldum was making movements either to make himself available for the ball, or to move Puncheon around (I'm not convinced that was the only reason and so far have focused on the first half rather than the first period of the second you're referring to). But in either case, that doesn't make any sense - if we're not going to follow it through. There's no point moving Puncheon, if you don't pass into the gap you've made in doing so. If you're not looking to make those passes, why bother moving Puncheon?

    Great - you've made me watch the first half again... :)

    First couple of minutes, Wijnaldum is RCM, moving around keeping ~ 10-15 yards in front or inside the ball, showing for passes without any significant movement away from the ball. No sign at this stage that we're focusing left. Underhits a 1-2 with Mane on the edge of the Palace box. On 2:55, perhaps significantly, shows for a pass to Gomez which is a little off target, get whacked on the ankle as he just gets to it first. On 4 minutes, the closest player to getting on the end of Robertson's first cross. At about 5 minutes, Wijnaldum is on the left and Milner right for the first time - following Milner taking a free kick from the right - they ignore a couple of opportunities to switch back until Milner presses to the left a couple of minutes later.

    Just before 9 minutes, Wijnaldum twice in a spell of possession gestures for the ball - once would have been vertically from Matip (looks frustrated not to have been passed to on that one), the second time as he ran beyond Firmino to inside-left, Firmino cutting inside/back to take the ball from a short pass from Robertson. A few seconds later, Matip does play a decent sharp vertical ball to Sturridge, who turns and tries to play Wijnaldum (still in an inside-left position) in between RCB and wingback, but Ward is alert and gets back. Clearance leads to the first bit of high counter pressing, before Robertson plays the ball inside the fullback for Milner to shoot at the keeper (Wijnaldum indicates he'd wanted it on the edge of the box, but probably wasn't the best option if it had been passed).

    (A few seconds after this Robertson makes an error miscuing a clearance, Milner recovers; less than two minutes later, pushes Ward over but not penalised). This is during a scrappy spell 10-13 minutes, where Palace have the ball or Liverpool a little aimless. Gomez plays a decent ball down the right for Sturridge, who doesn't have the pace to beat Van Anholt. No indication yet that Liverpool are particularly favouring the left (but that seems to be start imminently).

    Just before 13 minutes, Milner has gone right and Wijnaldum left again. Wijnaldum hasn't touched the ball for about 7 minutes at this stage, after 5 touches in the first six minutes (but, as at ~9 minutes, not for the want of trying). Wijnaldum then doubles his touches for the game, combining with Robertson and Firmino as they try to work an opening for Robertson on the overlap. From a resulting throw still on the left, Wijnaldum turns Ward (without touching the ball) and wins the free kick from which Robertson-Milner-Robertson creates the Matip header that should be 1-0 on 14 minutes. Wijnaldum goes back right, Milner left.

    So at 14 minutes, Wijnaldum has 10 touches and 7 successful passes, all but two around the inside left position; 2 positive non-touches (chasing the pass from Sturridge, winning the free kick from the throw) - and 3 moments around 9-10 minutes where he visibly wanted the ball but didn't get it.

    Around 16/17 minutes, he's drifting in the AM area, gradually moving left as the area is bypassed during a couple of brief direct end-to-end passages of play. A Milner tackle leaves him right of centre, so as Hennessy takes the ball at the end of a Mane run, Wijnaldum drops left (briefly, Henderson shapes RCM, Milner is central; which leads to Milner's second rather clumsy foul, central-ish 30 yards out). 18:30 - Mane counter broken, Palace long back pass to keeper, Wijnaldum continues ~50 yard run to pressure. Ball comes back, Firmino takes a quick throw, Wijnaldum has another couple of touches/passes with Firmino/Robertson on the left. Between 19:30-20:00 ignored for a pass three times by Robertson and once by Klavan, in quick succession; Robertson finally passes the ball right past Wijnaldum to Henderson to play his most vertical pass of the game so far; gives it away, Palace play into our RB corner for Benteke to chase. Henderson goes right, Wijnaldum centre and Milner left as we drop into shape; Palace concede free kick, Wijnaldum goes right and Henderson central. A quick sortie down the left (Robertson/Firmino) apart, Palace have the ball until 23rd minute.

    23:10, Gomez gives Wijnaldum a pass under pressure; Wijnaldum returns it to Gomez, who then gives it away trying to find Milner, who had made a similar drifting movement into the AM position while the buildup was on the opposite side. Wijnaldum makes his one and only tackle of the game. Milner-Sturridge-Mane, cross field ball behind Robertson for a Palace throw. By now, our moves down the left are showing some promise, but the right isn't producing anything.

    Got an appointment - will/may finish later. Wijnaldum has done 'ok' so far, been involved in buildup, won a useful free kick, got frustrated at being ignored a couple of times, made a long pressure run, etc. His biggest spell without touching the ball comes up shortly though, I believe...
    I've deleted the game now and don´t really want to redownload it to find some examples (sorry mate). I will in future keep things for the lifespan of roundtables so I can participate properly though in deeper analysis.

    I think the difference between me and someone who really understands football on a tactical level is I know things to look out for - whereas they would know things from just watching the game. So, in this game I was looking out for Milner & Robertson together and saw some things - but that made me blind to everything else that happened in the game on a tactical level due to the focus I had, like the invisible gorilla test. My sample of looking at Wijnaldum to understand possible reasons for his low activity in the game was rewatching a small period of the 2nd half and also trying to think about likely scenarios to explain the data without eliminating anything as possible.

    To give an answer to the above, I would say in a zonal marking system - which Palace where trying to implement in a low block - you compress any spaces that appear in the front line while also dropping into spaces appearing in the back line. Therefore pulling someone out of the line should mean a narrowing of the line as a whole leaving more space on the flanks. Or - if the width remains the same - more space between each lane of the line.

    Also usually there isn't movement in isolation and there could be other movement happening other than Wijnaldum. For example, a recurring pattern of play is a player moving to/away from the ball near-side while a deep runner tries to run beyond a defensive line far side. Barcelona use this a lot with their full backs - particularly Rakitic & Jordi Alba. Rakitic will have the ball in the right half space in front of the midfield. Someone will make an inside-outside run while, at the same time, Alba starts a run from deep to arrive in behind/between the full back and center back on the left.

    The aim of this movement pattern is the inside to out run on to the right either causes a shift (ideally) or at least the attention of the defence. The run of Alba will then have a second or two momentum on the defender who would need to check the run which will make him incapable of intercepting the ball to Alba.
    Gonna stay behind at work and wait to see what happens.

    I am betting some split arse and crying.

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    Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
    « Reply #33 on: August 21, 2017, 10:38:34 PM »
    I think the time to worry about Gini is if he doesnt show up in the next 2 league games. City and Arsenal are both games where the speed of transition should really play to Gini's strengths. No low block and i expect both games to be free flowing and end to end.

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    Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
    « Reply #34 on: August 21, 2017, 10:58:27 PM »

    To give an answer to the above, I would say in a zonal marking system - which Palace where trying to implement in a low block - you compress any spaces that appear in the front line while also dropping into spaces appearing in the back line. Therefore pulling someone out of the line should mean a narrowing of the line as a whole leaving more space on the flanks. Or - if the width remains the same - more space between each lane of the line.

    I just don't think this is what we were doing. At least, not in the first half I've re-watched so far - and not in my response to watching live. In the first half, Wijnaldum is showing for the ball. He's paying little attention to Puncheon, and for certain spells isn't on the same side of the pitch. Infact re-watching the first quarter, we only gradually started shifting left because the right wasn't working. Certainly Gomez wasn't getting forward in the same way as Robertson, but we did try and bring Mane and Sturridge into play down the right - it just didn't happen.

    There's perhaps a risk of over thinking such an issue. I don't think we can discuss the lack of penetration down the centre ignoring the point that we didn't pass through the centre. Of course, that's partly because we lack Coutinho and Lallana - but we do have Wijnaldum, and Firmino, and Mane and Sturridge. One of the earliest threats we posed was the vertical pass from Matip to Sturridge, who tried to play in Wijnaldum getting beyond the forward line. And then we just stopped doing it.

    Milner barely placed a vertical pass down the centre in 90 minutes. Henderson tried a few, but didn't connect with them. Both, with the vast majority of their possessions, shuttled the ball from one side to another. I don't think this was a tactical plan: because I don't think it fits the evidence - and the benefits don't justify the cost.

    My post on this subject arose from a question in the Wijnaldum thread - why didn't he impose himself? Why didn't he get on the ball more? The simple answer - highlighted rather than disproved by a couple of brief spells when he did, and when he was frustrated at not being passed to when showing - was that we just didn't pass the ball into the area where he was most of the time. Not only to him, but anyone else in that area. Until the last 20-30 minutes, we virtually ignored zone 14. Our 90 minute heat map shows a lukewarm strip, but even then with cold spots, right on the edge of the area. That's a little concerning.
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    Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
    « Reply #35 on: August 22, 2017, 09:36:38 AM »
    Henderson does the most defensive work in our midfield, usually mopping up behind our two #8s. He also is the most aerially competent midfielder (bar Can & Grujic) which is important in the #6 role as he has to deal with a lot of long aerial balls into that zone due to the way we press full backs into rushed balls down the flanks. He is averaging 2 aerial balls won per 90 at the moment for us this season - which is on a par with most top La Liga and Serie A center backs.

    In terms of in possession, he is the only rangey passer we have in the squad and the best player at switching play quickly from one side to the other - a vital tool in terms of breaking down a defence. He is also the quickest circulator of the ball in midfield, bar perhaps Gini.

    Babu, the role for Henderson you describe here was the role he performed in that period around the goal time. He appeared to my eyes to be tidying up attempts to clear the ball by palace which in turn kept them under pressure. The quick recirculating of the ball to free players prevented the press from Palace as well, keeping them on the back foot, which meant we were not under threat. The ability to pin a team back with good possession in their half is the one area of game management that seems to evaporate at times allowing us to put ourselves under pressure especially in the dying moments of a close game.
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    Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
    « Reply #36 on: August 22, 2017, 11:00:41 AM »

    The work being put into the simplest of formations and the smallest of details is extraordinary. If what you and Redmark have explained is the way Klopp planned to play the game, then I am completely overwhelmed.

    Why did I ever think I understood footall? :butt I Always used to overlook those pesky little details.

    Keep them coming boys. Maybe someday I will actually understand football, rather then just pretend to.

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    Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
    « Reply #37 on: August 22, 2017, 11:33:29 AM »
    Some interesting things to note.

      Aerial Duals
      • Benteke only won 1 aerial dual in our half on Saturday, on the right wing right on the touchline about 40 yards away from goal. We shut that shit down.
      • Palace as a whole only won 4  aerial dual (2 in our box) on Saturday vs the 13 Watford won (2 in our box also) the previous weekend.
      • The match had only 33 aerial duels in total (of which we won 20) compared to the 47 against Watford (of which we won 25).
      Crosses
      • Palace only put 6 crosses into our box vs the 16 faced v Watford.
      • We conceded 2 chances via set plays compared to the 4 vs Watford.


      Top work again mate..some fantastic in depth analysis.
      We hear all the time about us being shit at set pieces & corners..would be interesting to compare our goals conceded ratio to set piece/corners defended with the rest of the prem,i have a feeling we get targetted more on them.[/list]
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      Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
      « Reply #38 on: August 22, 2017, 12:34:50 PM »
      Babu, the role for Henderson you describe here was the role he performed in that period around the goal time. He appeared to my eyes to be tidying up attempts to clear the ball by palace which in turn kept them under pressure. The quick recirculating of the ball to free players prevented the press from Palace as well, keeping them on the back foot, which meant we were not under threat. The ability to pin a team back with good possession in their half is the one area of game management that seems to evaporate at times allowing us to put ourselves under pressure especially in the dying moments of a close game.

      Good post mate. I should have watched back the end of the game also. Normally I watch games a second time before doing a roundtable post but finding my time getting increasingly limited by work and house stuff.

      It was very interesting how little threat Palace posed to us really. Their two best chances (Puncheon & Benteke) were also very easily preventable also. They didn't really create anything with possession. They struggled to break through us anywhere on the pitch and the few successes they had were bad mistakes on our part more than anything else. They were forced into going long a lot with our pressing but never really competed well for the long balls either - which is a surprise with Benteke in the side. Perhaps this is a good example of how building a side around 1 player can be a disaster when that guy has a poor game. It also shows how much they miss Zaha when he is missing. Surprised me that they never tried to bring in another winger. I shame De Boer knews a few kicking around the Dutch League that would be fit to task and wouldn't break the bank for them.

      I just don't think this is what we were doing. At least, not in the first half I've re-watched so far - and not in my response to watching live. In the first half, Wijnaldum is showing for the ball. He's paying little attention to Puncheon, and for certain spells isn't on the same side of the pitch. Infact re-watching the first quarter, we only gradually started shifting left because the right wasn't working. Certainly Gomez wasn't getting forward in the same way as Robertson, but we did try and bring Mane and Sturridge into play down the right - it just didn't happen.

      There's perhaps a risk of over thinking such an issue. I don't think we can discuss the lack of penetration down the centre ignoring the point that we didn't pass through the centre. Of course, that's partly because we lack Coutinho and Lallana - but we do have Wijnaldum, and Firmino, and Mane and Sturridge. One of the earliest threats we posed was the vertical pass from Matip to Sturridge, who tried to play in Wijnaldum getting beyond the forward line. And then we just stopped doing it.

      Milner barely placed a vertical pass down the centre in 90 minutes. Henderson tried a few, but didn't connect with them. Both, with the vast majority of their possessions, shuttled the ball from one side to another. I don't think this was a tactical plan: because I don't think it fits the evidence - and the benefits don't justify the cost.

      My post on this subject arose from a question in the Wijnaldum thread - why didn't he impose himself? Why didn't he get on the ball more? The simple answer - highlighted rather than disproved by a couple of brief spells when he did, and when he was frustrated at not being passed to when showing - was that we just didn't pass the ball into the area where he was most of the time. Not only to him, but anyone else in that area. Until the last 20-30 minutes, we virtually ignored zone 14. Our 90 minute heat map shows a lukewarm strip, but even then with cold spots, right on the edge of the area. That's a little concerning.

      One of the things when approaching a low block is that there are no passing lanes through the center. They appear when you destabilise the shape and people adjust their positions - but that wasn't happening on Saturday. Nobody was taking on and beating a CM and having a CB step out. The other midfielders step across.

      If you look at the pass maps for the Burnley & Palace games side by side there is very little difference, although you can see Coutinho popping up in that hole that was there Saturday as he is the player who is best suited to receiving and playing in very tight spaces such as these.



      Similarly the dribble maps - there is only really the Sturridge turn and shot that took on the first line in midfield centrally. Plus one other attributed to Gomez in the 40th minute that I don't remember at the moment. However, the Burnley game has both Lallana and Phil Coutinho attacking the same space with the ball multiple times in the game trying to take on the same player in the first line (looking at tackle maps, I think it was Marney). Which would indicate to me that Marney was identified as the weaklink in the Burnley midfield. If you dribble past him (and they did something like 7 times) it would open up a little space centrally with others needing to step across or up to deal with the threat. We just never had that on Saturday, and won't without those two players I fear.

      As an aside - I said before the season a fit Sturridge would be our plan B this season. He is important in these games as he was our best striker playing in those tight areas. He has the technique to make space and take a shot where others could not. It's interesting that, he was the only (until I can work out what Gomez was) player who managed to take a central midfielder out of the game with a dribble in the low block Saturday - although I think he fucked the opportunity up with his shot. He is also the only player other than Phil who is popping up and completing passes in that most dangerous zone I highlighted in yellow. Hopefully he is encouraged to make those little movements more often but also to re-asses the opposition after doing so and see if he has made space for someone to be free in a better position rather than take a rushed shot.
      Gonna stay behind at work and wait to see what happens.

      I am betting some split arse and crying.

      Offline moloch

      • Believer
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      Re: Roundtable: Liverpool vs. Palace 19 August 2017
      « Reply #39 on: August 22, 2017, 01:36:21 PM »
      So with a simple twist of fate we've gone from being light in defense to being light in the midfield. We just can't get a break, can we..