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Stats support Spurs win

Frank Monkhouse | 11 February 2017

What’s gone wrong with Liverpool?

We have another hectic Saturday ahead, but sports punters are in no doubt about where the highlight of the day goes, as Liverpool host Tottenham in a mammoth fixture from 5.30pm.

This top of the bill clash, shown live on BT Sport, looks to be the final roll of the dice for Liverpool to salvage something from their season. The Reds, considered title contenders at the end of 2016, now find themselves out of the top-four, and sinking fast. Bitter rivals Everton, currently in seventh, are just six points behind, and improving too.

Since beating Man City 1-0 on New Year’s Eve, Jurgen Klopp’s side haven’t won a Premier League fixture since. I’ll say that again, Liverpool haven’t won a game in 2017, from five attempts. Defeat to relegation contenders Swansea and Hull adds to the misery of drawing with Sunderland, Man United and Chelsea. They were extremely fortunate to get anything out of that match with The Blues on the final day of January too.

Let’s not forget, as well as that horrible league form, the 18-time top-flight champions have also been booted out of the FA Cup at the hands of Championship Wolves, and eliminated from the League Cup at the semi-final stage by Southampton, both coming at Anfield. So, in the matter of a calendar month – just what has gone wrong at Liverpool?

Sadio Mane has been a star since his summer switch from Southampton.

No fire upfront

Well, the lack of an out-and-out goal scorer is one reason they are going backwards. The club’s leading scorer, Sadio Mane, has nine goals so far, meaning there are nine players in front of him who have netted more. That list includes Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, 34-year-old Jermain Defoe, and two from Spurs. How can they be expected to compete for the major honours without a player who can put the ball in the net on a regular basis?

Let’s take a closer look at that. In last week’s 2-0 loss to lowly Hull at the KCOM Stadium, Liverpool had an incredible 72% of possession and 22 shots at goal. How many hit the target? Five. Zero hit the back of the net. I don’t want to sound like Arsene Wenger rhyming off the stats sheet here, but 72% of possession, 22 shots and no goals. That sets alarm bells ringing.

The three defeats before that read, vs Wolves – 79% possession, 20 shots, one goal, vs Southampton – 72% possession, 13 shots, no goals, vs Swansea – 74%, 16 shots, two goals. We could go on all day, but, thankfully, we won’t. But it does paint a pretty damning picture. Liverpool are playing, what is referred to, as modern football – lots of the ball, tons of pretty passes, impressive numbers on the stats, but very few goals. Fans are becoming increasingly weary of it too.

Defence key to victory for Spurs

Compare that to the stats of a team like Everton or Man United, sides who are actually winning football matches, what fans pay their money to see. The Toffees’ last outing vs Bournemouth – 46% possession, 15 shots, six goals. United game with Leicester – 68%, 16 shots, three goals.

Opponents Spurs have certainly not been wasteful in the final third of late, and that should be the difference on Saturday night. This year alone the Londoners have already knocked in 13 goals. At the other end they have allowed just three, keeping a clean-sheet in four of those six league matches.

Liverpool’s shot-shy form in front of goal, coupled with Tottenham’s rock-solid defence in the league, makes Coral’s 5/1 on Spurs to win to nil very tempting indeed. That’s well worth a try in your weekend bets.

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