Liverpool’s use of data is becoming increasingly well known.
Owner John Henry has a background of valuing statistics having invested thoroughly in baseball analytics, while Michael Edwards, the club’s sporting director, was a former analyst at Portsmouth and Tottenham.
While stats are commonly associated with transfers and recruitment, certain data findings can also influence decision-making on the pitch.
One of the key pillars of football analytics in general since it’s rise has been Expected Goals (xG).
xG offers an insight into the likelihood of a shot being scored by considering aspects such as difficulty and location, and it tends to provide an accurate summary of whether a team deserved fewer or more goals based on their shots.
If Mohamed Salah shoots from 40 yards, for example, his attempt may have an xG value of just 0.01, because that has a roughly 1% chance of being scored based on historical data, whereas a penalty taken by the Egyptian may have an xG of 0.76, as around 76% of penalties are successful.
xG interprets shot locations as highly valuable. The closer you are to goal, the more likely you are to essentially find the net.
Jurgen Klopp’s appreciation of xG is largely unknown, but one underlying metric in particular can be used to capture how much thought the Reds put into shooting, as shown below.
Passes per shot from outside the box offers an insight into how quickly a team are likely to resort to an unsophisticated effort from long-range.
The least calculating attacking teams, such as Newcastle United, Manchester United, Southampton and Aston Villa appear willing to shoot from virtually anywhere, with the Red Devils attempting to score from outside the box roughly every 71 passes.
Liverpool, by contrast, shoot from outside the box every 136 passes – which is almost double their Manchester rivals.
Capable offensive outfits, such as Arsenal, Sheffield United and Manchester City, show up fairly competently and tend to avoid efforts from far out.
For perspective, Liverpool’s shots from open-play are pictured on the left of the graphic below, alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team on the right.
Shots from range are modernly frowned upon largely because of how unlikely they are to actually find the net. There are often better options available, and the Anfield outfit seem to be aware of that.
29.8% of Liverpool’s shots originate from outside the penalty box based on this season, compared to 48.2% of United’s.
Ultimately, one of the key reasons behind the efficiency of Klopp’s outfit is the intent to create clear-cut opportunities rather than opting for the hit and hope tactic that is mostly unsustainable.
While the Red Devils strive to expand their newly established data science department, the Reds will continue to reap the rewards of cultured attacking.