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Liverpool vs Man Utd


Rory Fitzgerald

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GerrardUtdGoal.jpg

 

Live on SkySports 1

 

Kick off 1.30pm

 

 

Preamble

 

These previews were done to shed some light on the teams that fans don't get too watch too much of such as Stoke and Aston Villa. Most, if not all fans, will have their own opinions on Utd's strenghts & weaknesses. This preview is unlikely to add much to the mix of opinion out there. The stats in green show how Liverpool compared to Utd last season. Despite the "Assists" thread this week, I still decided to go ahead with the stats section this week to contrast the 2 teams last season - though I may be put on ignore by Schmuckdonald, Cunny, Earl and David Hodgson :hmm:/>/>

 

 

Possession

 

With an average of 56.2% possession last season, Utd ranked 4th (3rd 57.2%). However, they were the league's most accurate passers with a pass completion rate of 85.7% (5th 84.2%). When in possession, Utd only attempted an average of 6.4 dribbles per game last season which was 10th (2nd 9.9) and a big shift from 2011/12 season when they were the 2nd highest dribblers in the league.

 

 

Attack

 

Utd scored the most goals 86 league goals last season (4th 71). However, they ranked only 7th when it came to the number of shots on goal with an average of 14.8 per game (1st 19.4). Of those shots, they were only 5th when it came to shots on target with an average of 5.6 per game (2nd 6.1). All that points to Utd having the best shot accuracy stat in the league last year with 53% (10th 47%).

 

What is somewhat telling is that Utd's ratio of 'shots from outside the box to total shots' was the 2nd lowest at 34% (8th lowest, 43%). Spurs & Chelsea by comparision hit 54% & 47% respectively which was 2nd & 5th highest. The deduction being that Utd's shots could be considered the least speculative.

 

40% of Utd's play went down their right last season with 32% going down their left and 28% being played in central areas. Liverpool played the same percentage in central areas but it was much more balanced on the flanks with 37% down the right and 35% down the left. Utd's play down the flanks produced the 5th highest number of crosses per game at 25 (15th 21).

 

 

Defence

 

Utd were a bit more open last season and conceded 43 goals, the same as Liverpool and more than the other teams in the top 4. As a point of reference, Stoke conceded 45 and Everton conceded 40. For a team that had plenty of possession, they only ranked 8th when it came to shots conceded per game at 12.9 (4th 11.4). Part of the reason perhaps was that they were a little less cynical as they gave away the fewest no. of fouls last season at an average of 9.9 per game (5th lowest 10.6), though cynics may point out that Utd get away with a bit more than other teams.

 

Utd conceded the 1st goal in 17 of their games of which they came back to win almost half (8), drew 3 and lost 6. Liverpool on the other hand conceded the 1st goal in 15 games but only won 2 of those, managed 5 draws and lost the other 8. Its this aspect of Utd's season that I am most interested in - will Utd continue to leak goals & the all important 1st goal, and if so, can Moyes extract as many points from losing positions as Ferguson did last season ?

 

 

Set Pieces

 

The one area that Liverpool looked vulnerable against Stoke and to an extent, against Villa, was the set piece. Last season Utd were 1st when it came to goals from set pieces with 22 (10th 11) of which 15 were from corners and 6 crossed in from free kicks. Its an area Liverpool are all too aware of in this fixture;

 

2012/13: Evra/Vidic header at Old Trafford from free kick.

 

2011/12: Rooney shot at Old Trafford from corner kick. Hernandez header at Anfield from corner kick.

 

2010/11: Berbatov header at Old Trafford from corner kick. His 2 other goals that day were from crosses (not set pieces) and Hernandez scored a header from a cross at Anfield that season.

 

 

Gerrard vs Carrick

 

These 2 teams are used to controlling possession and therefore, controlling midfield. The players charged with directing play from deep midfield in each side are both senior pro's in their 30's and England internationals. To further emphasise this point, Carrick was the player that made the highest no. of passes in the league last season whilst Gerrard ranked 5th. This is unlikely to be a direct head-to-head battle in midfield, rather their level of influence on the game will be dependant on their colleagues helping their team win more possession so that Gerrard or Carrick can orchastrate proceedings in midfield.

 

 

 

Utd's set up under Moyes

 

Below are the average position of the players involved in Utd's first 2 games under Moyes. In the Swansea game, whilst not shown by the average pitch position, Carrick and Cleverley covered alot of ground. Ignoring the back 4, the only outfield Utd player that held any kind of specific position was Valencia. The heat maps showed that Giggs and Welbeck were flexible in coming infield and dropping deep. Van Persie floated across the front line whilst Valencia's heat map was restricted purely to the right touchline. In a sense, it was vaguely similar to how Liverpool set up in the first 2 games. The left side was less restrictive with Coutinho/Giggs drifting infield. On the right, whilst offereing very different qualities, Henderson/Valencia did not come infield as much as their counter parts on the left. As for upfront, Sturridge/RvP were the main point of attack with Aspas/Welbeck being the player to float around a bit more.

 

UtdvSwansea.png

 

As for the Chelsea game, Utd had more control in this game than they had in the Swansea game. Giggs was replaced by Rooney who operated in the channel behind Van Persie to link up the play. Rooney had 70 touches of the ball and made 56 passes compared to Van Persie's 37 touches and 25 passes. So whilst the average postion shows Rooney & Van Persie almost in identical positions, its not a true reflection of their involvement in the game.

 

The other difference in the set up to Swansea was that Carrick and Cleverley swapped positions i.e. Cleverley operated as the right sided central midfielder. One possible reason I can see for this kind of switch would be to place Cleverley's energy closer to Chelsea's left where Hazard & Cole operated as opposed to their right which was De Bruyne & Ivanovic. Possibly another factor was that Lampard was also on this side of midfield. There is a graphic below that shows Lampard scoring 6 goals from Mata assiSts and 5 from Hazard, perhaps the threat was from that 'side/half' of the pitch that saw Cleverley switch.

 

UtdvsChelsea.PNG

 

 

Utd's right side

 

Below is a look at Utd's use of each side of the pitch. There seems to be a noticeable gravitation towards the right.

 

UtdRightSide.PNG

 

There is no silver bullet in focusing on one side of Utd's play. They scored the most goals from open play last season and the most goals from set pieces. Whilst its worth noting that the dynamics of their left and right are that bit different with a bit more of the play coming down the right side, its only an indicator of what Liverpool could face and whether it is worth tweaking the side to acknowledge this nuance. And that is all it is, a nuance. Villa were distinctive in their use of their left but Utd are adept at attacking from all angles and sides.

 

 

Utd's right and Utd's key orchestrator

 

With the exception of the game at Anfield last season, Carrick largely played on the right of Utd's central midfield in the big away games last season. Given that Utd have plenty of the ball, he will naturally move across midfield to link up play. Also, as Utd have plenty of the ball in the oppositons half, he will drift across the half way line to provide back up and switch the play. However, that is when Utd have the ball and when they are dictating the play. On Sunday, Liverpool will be looking to dicatate the play and if they manage that then Carrick could be stationed in our left channel when defending and also float around there when they look to start attacks when possession is turned over.

 

CarrickHeatMap.png

 

 

Other

 

The Howard Webb for Sunday's game is Andre Marriner who was the referee in the game that Suarez & Evra exchanged words. He also referred the game that Liverpool won 2-0 in October 2009 when Vidic & Mascherano were sent off.

 

The bookies price the game relatively evenly with Liverpool very marginal favourites at this time though its only a whisker.

 

Liverpool 13/8

 

Draw 9/4

 

United 7/4

 

 

Conclusion

 

What's depicted above combined with what we know about Utd's players and, obviously, Liverpool's players then there is a case to be made to focus on Utd's left and switch Coutinho with Henderson. Coutinho & Aspas could be given licence to swap positions and positions them on the side of the pitch closer to Gerrard and Johnson. By looking to go down this side, Sturridge could work the channel between Vidic & Evra and with the movement of Coutinho & Aspas towards that side, it could give that pair a headache. Additionally, it would station Henderson on their right where we may just need that little bit more energy if Utd do elect to work their play down that side. It may also place him nearer to Carrick which would do no harm.

 

All in all, both sides are used to dominating possession with each midfield likely to look for Carrick & Gerrard to have a big impact in winning that battle by using the ball wisely. United carry a threat from everywhere, scoring the most goals from open play and from set pieces. However, as shown last season at Anfield before the red card and at Old Trafford when Sturridge came on at half time, Liverpool are very capable of dictating play and causing United problems.

 

Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 United

 

http://www.roryfitz9.com/news/liverpool-vs-man-utd/

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In his attempt to address the gaps between midfield and defence that caused us so many problems last season it looks to me like we have pulled the midfield pair much closer to the centre halfs.

 

Whilst two clean sheets is nothing to sniff at i think the 2 are now too far back and offering very little going forward. The difference in Gerrards game last nigh given the option of roaming a bit further forward was quite apparent.

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In his attempt to address the gaps between midfield and defence that caused us so many problems last season it looks to me like we have pulled the midfield pair much closer to the centre halfs.

 

Whilst two clean sheets is nothing to sniff at i think the 2 are now too far back and offering very little going forward. The difference in Gerrards game last nigh given the option of roaming a bit further forward was quite apparent.

Didn't see that in the Stoke game at all, we were noticeably higher up the pitch.

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With question marks in defence due to the Toure injury, i'd play Lucas deep and then Gerrard, Allen and Henderson in a three with Allen and Henderson tucking in, Gerrard allowed some rope. Play a strong midfield and don't allow them anything - might be easier to prevent the pass than defend it.

Look for the fullbacks and have Coutinho off Sturridge.

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With question marks in defence due to the Toure injury, i'd play Lucas deep and then Gerrard, Allen and Henderson in a three with Allen and Henderson tucking in, Gerrard allowed some rope. Play a strong midfield and don't allow them anything - might be easier to prevent the pass than defend it.

Look for the fullbacks and have Coutinho off Sturridge.

Sounds like a plan

Edited by jimbolala
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With question marks in defence due to the Toure injury, i'd play Lucas deep and then Gerrard, Allen and Henderson in a three with Allen and Henderson tucking in, Gerrard allowed some rope. Play a strong midfield and don't allow them anything - might be easier to prevent the pass than defend it.

Look for the fullbacks and have Coutinho off Sturridge.

 

Allen won't be fit.Be interesting to see what we do in defence though. The choices aren't great tbh, either play Skittles in his first game of the season and gamble that his fitness can stand up to it or play a fully fit kid and hope he can cope with the pressure.

 

We could go three at the back and flood midfield but I would imagine we'll play a four because, well, everyone plays four at the back.

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With question marks in defence due to the Toure injury, i'd play Lucas deep and then Gerrard, Allen and Henderson in a three with Allen and Henderson tucking in, Gerrard allowed some rope. Play a strong midfield and don't allow them anything - might be easier to prevent the pass than defend it.

Look for the fullbacks and have Coutinho off Sturridge.

 

I 'd agree with that team. Could leave us very narrow unless the f-bs get up and down but should help us control the midfield, and a 0-0 draw would be a decent result for us

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get coutinho at phil jones. he's slow on the turn and can be pulled about positionally. don't expect us to get much change from ferdinand and vidic so let's focus on the weakest element of their defence. and plenty of late runs from henderson and gerrard into the hole too.

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Allen won't be fit.Be interesting to see what we do in defence though. The choices aren't great tbh, either play Skittles in his first game of the season and gamble that his fitness can stand up to it or play a fully fit kid and hope he can cope with the pressure.

 

We could go three at the back and flood midfield but I would imagine we'll play a four because, well, everyone plays four at the back.

Don't fancy the prospect of Wisdom up against Van Persie. If Skrtel is ready, then surely he will start.

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Reckon its a good time for Utd to being playing us. No Suarez, Toure out and the likes of Sturridge, Gerrard, Johnson and Agger having played 120 minutes midweek.

We have done pretty well without Suarez, Skrtel is not the worst replacement for Kolo.

 

3-1

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