Stumble or Fall?
Liverpool have struggled in the Premier League since Christmas, picking up just two points in three games against West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle United and Southampton.
Alarmingly for the Reds, their usually free-scoring attack have underperformed and mustered just one goal in those three matches from 45 shots at a conversion rate of 2.2%. Liverpool had more shots on target in their emphatic 7-0 win at Crystal Palace on 19 December (8) than they have managed to fire in their three Premier League games since (7) and the last time that they attempted fewer shots on target over a three-game period in the competition was nearly 11 years ago, in March 2010 (4).
It could just be a case of Expected Goals (xG) catching up with them. In the Premier League before Christmas, Liverpool had scored 36 goals from an xG total of 27.2, with that Palace victory in their final game before the festive break seeing seven goals scored from shots accumulating 2.6 xG. In their last three games, they have scored a solitary goal from an xG total of 4.5 – this includes the Monday night performance against Southampton that saw them post a total of 1.53 xG, their highest xG total without scoring in the Premier League since April 2018 vs Stoke City (1.93).
Pass & Move
Arsenal picked up their third successive Premier League victory with an emphatic 4-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday night.
A 20-pass move saw the Gunners hold uninterrupted possession for a period of one minute and 21 seconds and involve 10 different Arsenal players, before Kieran Tierney cut inside on his right foot and slammed a wonderful shot past Sam Johnstone into the goal to open the scoring.
It was the first 20+ pass move that Arsenal have strung together before a Premier League goal this season, but since Mikel Arteta’s first game in charge on Boxing Day 2019, the Gunners have scored more goals following a sequence of 20+ passes than any other Premier League side (3).
Carry Me Home
Eberechi Eze has impressed many during his short Premier League career at Crystal Palace following a move across London from rivals QPR in the summer.
The England U21 international scored a brilliant solo effort in Saturday’s 2-0 win over bottom club Sheffield United, travelling with the ball at his feet from midway in his own half before stroking the ball past Aaron Ramsdale from outside the box.
Eze’s goal came after he carried the ball 48 meters, which is just under the record for a Premier League goal in 2020-21 – Grady Diangana’s strike versus Everton in September (48.8m).
Whilst the exciting youngster has carried the ball further than any other Crystal Palace teammate in the Premier League so far this season (2793m) and had the most progressive ball carries of any Eagles’ player (116), this was just the second time that he’d attempted a shot following a carry in the competition. Maybe he should try it more often.
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