Set-Piece Setbacks

Set-Piece Setbacks
March 13, 2013 Andrew Beasley

By Andrew Beasley.

Statistics were sourced from WhoScored and EPLIndex, relate to league games only, and are correct up to 1st March 2013.

It recently occurred to me that Liverpool have dropped a lot of points this season by conceding goals from set pieces, West Brom’s opener in their win at Anfield being the most recent example. It’s also a well established truth that the Reds are poor at attacking set plays too; there was a ‘Pool fanzine in the 1980’s called ‘Another Wasted Corner’, after all.

I therefore thought I’d check how the Reds have fared at both ends of the pitch in comparison to their Premier League rivals this season, to establish if they actually are particularly weak in this area.

Goals from set pieces account for 25% of the total scored in the English top flight (which inspired Damien Comolli to purchase Charlie Adam, but that’s another story), and so they are often a vital element in deciding the outcome of football matches, with a goal scored via a set play approximately every one-and-a-half games across the division.

The first thing I noticed from a defensive point of view is that Liverpool’s opponents have relied on set pieces for a larger proportion of their shots than has been the case for any other defending team this season.

Nearly one in three (30.4%) of the Reds’ opposition shots have come from set-plays, and to my mind this is a good thing; at least by giving away relatively fewer chances in open play, Liverpool could improve their goals against tally with better defending from set pieces. I’m no tactical expert (and perhaps Mihail can offer his opinion in the comments section), but I think with a decent defensive coach a team should be able to improve how it deals with set piece attacks.

This season, the Reds have conceded nine goals from set pieces (26.5% of their total), which is spot on the average for the division, with eight coming away from home. Similarly, conceding from 9.8% of the set piece shots they have allowed puts Liverpool close to the Premier League average of 9.2%.

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