Football Features

The key stats behind Liverpool’s treble-ending slump after awful April

By Harry Edwards

Published: 16:40, 30 April 2024

Jurgen Klopp’s time as Liverpool manager is set to end with a whimper.

Not too long ago there were talks and some hopes of a quadruple. It wouldn’t be the Quadruple, but a quartet of trophies consisting of the Premier League, the FA Cup, Europa League and EFL Cup would still be as impressive as they come.

The EFL Cup was secured at the end of February with an extra-time win over Chelsea, but the quadruple became a treble within a few weeks as Manchester United knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage.

And then came April, a crucial month, and one in which Liverpool struggled, ultimately reducing their treble to a single EFL Cup.

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April started with a 3-1 win over Sheffield United which kept Liverpool close in the title race, their seventh game without defeat in the Premier League — with six wins and one draw against Manchester City. But then Liverpool travelled to Old Trafford once more, looking for revenge against Man Utd in the Premier League.

Liverpool took the lead but then needed an 84th-minute penalty from Mohamed Salah to rescue a point. Four days later, Liverpool were beaten 3-0 at home to Atalanta in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final, before ceding further ground in the Premier League title race by losing 1-0 to Crystal Palace at Anfield.

Although Liverpool ended their three-game winless streak by beating Atalanta in the second leg of their Europa League tie, the 1-0 win wasn’t enough to prevent the Reds being knocked out of the competition. Somewhat buoyed by the result, Liverpool did fight hard to beat Fulham 3-1 in the Premier League, but then came two title chase-ending results.

The first was the 2-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park, their first away defeat to their Merseyside rivals since October 2010. If that didn’t end Liverpool’s title hopes, the 2-2 draw with West Ham at the weekend surely did. The Reds are now five points behind leaders Arsenal with three games left to play, and four behind second-placed Man City who have a game in hand. Opta’s AI-powered season predictions give Liverpool a 0.05% chance of winning the Premier League.

So what’s gone wrong?

In the Premier League and Europa League from the start of the season to the end of March, Liverpool were averaging 2.57 goals scored per game, with 1.84 from open play. That decreased quite considerably in April, with Liverpool averaging 1.38 goals and 0.75 from open play per game in the Premier League and Europa League.

But it wasn’t that they were taking fewer shots. In fact, Liverpool averaged slightly more shots in April (21.5 per game) than they did in the rest of the season (19.3 per game). Liverpool’s accuracy has taken a bit of a hit, however, with 31.4% accuracy in April compared to 36.7% from August to March.

As a team, Liverpool have been creating more chances per game in April at 16.13 to 14.65 for the remainder of the season, though obviously not every shot has a chance created. But perhaps the most crucial stats in the attacking third are the big chances.

In the Premier League and Europa League from the start of the season to the end of March, Liverpool created 2.73 big chances per game, scoring 1.49 and missing 1.95. Again, not every big chance will have been created, if a player did it all on his own. But in April, Liverpool scored just 0.5 big chances and missed an incredible 2.63 per game. While a lot of teams, and big players, will miss big chances, the difference between the big chances missed and those scored has been too high. They haven’t been making up for missing big chances with scoring a high number too.

There will be a few worries when it comes to Expected Goals too. From August to March in the Premier League and Europa League, Liverpool had an xG of 2.32 per game and that was the same for Expected Goals on Target. But in April, Liverpool’s xG was 2.18 per game, with their xGOT dropping down to 1.55. That’s a shot placement ratio drop from 1 to 0.71.

The defence has been a problem too. In April, Liverpool conceded 8.25 shots from inside the box per game in the Premier League and Europa League — compared to 6.86 in the rest of the season. They completed fewer clearances on average (10.75 per game in April to 15.32), and won possession fewer times in both the attacking third (4.38 to 6.24) and defensive third (18 to 21.65).

Liverpool have also been making errors leading to goals more frequently at 0.5 per game in April compared to 0.16 from August to March. However, it’s worth noting that Liverpool made fewer errors leading to shots in total at 0.30 to 0.46.

This all comes despite Liverpool attempting and completing more passes, both in general and final third and attempting and completed more through balls and long balls.