If there was one resounding theme from Saturday that has permeated our whole season so far then it’s our inability to take our chances and the missed opportunities, in terms of league positioning that tends to go hand-in-hand with that.
I wrote last week that Liverpool have had 122 shots on goal in their 8 league games up until Saturday evening. By 8pm on Saturday, you could make that 151. With 29 shots at goal (and 9 more on target) we scored 1 goal; which means that, for 151 shots so far, we’ve scored just 12 goals. That statistic positively terrifies me.
What is even more concerning is that we currently sit in 6th position, behind both Tottenham and, more alarmingly, Newcastle United. If Tottenham are to win their game in hand they will have 19 points, as do Newcastle. This would put them 5 clear of us. Now, a five point difference is nothing at this stage of the season, I know, and I really wouldn’t be surprised if United made up that same difference to overhaul City come the 38th match of the season but the difference is that Man U do not have a problem finding the net. Even when down to 10 men and getting completely pummelled, they still managed to pull a goal out.
Against Norwich, Luis Suarez had 11 shots, 6 on target and scored none. Admittedly, the Uruguayan makes most of his own chances so he has to be commended for that but he really, really must start making more of them count. He often does a lot of the hard work, only to strike his shot poorly or straight at the ‘keeper.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a criticism of Luis, not in the slightest because without him we would be a weaker team without doubt. It is more an indicator of an overall larger issue with the team: we just cannot score. This has now become a recognised issue in the press too, as one website I saw this morning pointed out: Liverpool would be 2nd right now if we hadn’t squandered 6 points over the season because of our inability in front of goal. Just look at Stewart Downing ’s efforts in the same game: 6 shots; 0 on target – it desperately needs to improve.
I wrote last week also that, with the return of Steven Gerrard we were likely to see this problem fade a little and I thought that that, coupled with Craig Bellamy’s inclusion at Anfield on Saturday would see a much more dynamic and capable Liverpool side. I wasn’t wrong but we still struggled when the chances came our way.
I can’t quite put my finger on the problem, as creating chances doesn’t seem to be an issue at all. Nor is a lack of ability, as we’ve created more than enough opportunities and possession to put 95% of the sides we’ve played in the league so far to the sword. So perhaps it is a psychological thing? But can an entire team suffer from the same problem, at the same time? I guess it has to be a possibility, as we’ve seen both Suarez and Kuyt miss penalties this season. Kuyt, perhaps, being most surprising as I don’t think I’d ever seen him miss a penalty before up until this season.
What I’m hoping can solve the problem though is just good, old practice. I’m sure the players get plenty of practice on the training ground but some of the shooting on display on Saturday reminded me of myself when I play after work: I see the goal, the ‘keeper bears down on me, I hear heavy footfalls behind me and I panic; it’s much easier to miss than it is to score.
So I can only hope that Kenny has the players on a heavy regime of practising their shooting this week as, come the weekend, we travel away to face the man that contributed largely to our most miserable 6 months ever last season and it would be a travesty if he was able to come away gloating because we couldn’t put away more than one of our 20-odd chances.
Written by David Tyrer for Live4Liverpool.com
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