Saturday 20th September 2014
West Ham United vs Liverpool
Following up an excellent offensive performance at Hull City on Monday night, West Ham welcome last season's runners up to East London.
The Reds have made a rather unimpressive start to life this season, with a couple of uninspired performances balanced out by one or two very good ones.
But an indifferent start doesn't mean this Liverpool team isn't a danger.
In the post-Luis Suarez world, Liverpool have signed a host of top class forward players. The likes of Mario Balotelli, Lazar Markovic, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert have all done the business in top leagues around Europe.
However, the star man so far this season has undoubtedly been England's teenage sensation Raheem Sterling.
In four league appearances this season, Sterling has completed 10 of 17 attempted take ons, created 8 chances, bagged one assist and scored two goals. It's been a very impressive start to the season for the young winger, and he will be the main threat to West Ham on Saturday evening.
One of the things that makes Sterling so difficult to deal with, is his unpredictability. The image below shows the average positions of the Liverpool team in the four games that Sterling has started this season. As you can clearly see, Sterling (#31) takes up different positions in each game.
Against Southampton he played on the left of a front three in a fairly central role, against Manchester City he was the right sided forward in a front two. Against Spurs he played behind Daniel Sturridge alongside Mario Balotelli, and against Ludogrets he played as a traditional left winger.
This variety means that it is very difficult to plan how to play against Sterling, as you simply cannot predict where or how he will be deployed.
And if there isn't a plan to deal with him, the England international can cause some serious damage.
In Liverpool's last away league game, the three nil victory over Spurs, Sterling ran the show. Aside from opening the scoring, he also created three chances for his team, was successful with 60% of his 5 attempted take ons (both of those attempted inside the penalty area were successful) and won 2 out of 4 tackles - both inside the opposition half.
And, as you can see from his event map below, he just floated across the pitch causing mischief wherever he felt fit.
How do you stop Liverpool?
To learn the most effective way to stop Liverpool from performing, we simply need to cast our eye back to last weekend, when Aston Villa's defensive resolve and determination stifled the creativity in attack of the Reds.
In their recent successes, Liverpool have dominated games by keeping possession of the ball, and letting everything run through Steven Gerrard in the heart of midfield. Aston Villa knew this, and adapted their game plan accordingly.
If you look at the average positions map below, you can see that Villa completely flooded the middle of the park. Swarming around the central trio of Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho.
On paper, the Villains actually lined up with a 4-3-3 formation, with Kieran Richardson and Andreas Weimann operating either side of Gabby Agbonlahor in attack. However, you can clearly see that both Richardson (#18) and Weimann (#10) dropped into midfield to reinforce the defence.
The other thing that is apparent from the image above, is how Villa hounded the Liverpool players when they had the ball. You can clearly see that Richardson, Ashley Westwood (#15) and Fabian Delph (#16) and then Weimann, Tom Cleverley (#8) and Alan Hutton (#21) defended as trios.
This 'pack' approach is one that has reaped benefits for a number of sides in recent times, and it certainly payed dividend for Villa last week.
The images below show the interceptions (left) and tackles (right) made by Villa players during the game. As you can see a large number of their defensive work (particularly the interceptions) took place within those clustered areas.
Liverpool's big weakness under Brendan Rodgers has been a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot defensively. Last season, no team in the Premier League made more defensive errors leading to attempts on goal than Liverpool's 42 errors, as shown in the chart below.
In total, 26% of the goals conceded by the Reds last season came directly from individual defensive errors (13/50). Only Manchester City (30% 11/37) and Spurs (41% 21/51) conceded a higher proportion of goals as a direct consequence of defensive errors.
And this is a problem that shows no sign of stopping soon.
In their opening four league games, Liverpool have made two key defensive errors, one leading to goal conceded. On top of this, the defensive reinforcements brought in by Liverpool are ones without perfect track records. Dejan Lovren is certainly more reliable than the shaky centrebacks that Liverpool fielded last season, but in league football since the start of the 2012/13 season, Alberto Moreno has committed 4 key defensive errors alone - including one against Manchester City last month.
If West Ham are to get a result against Liverpool, we will need to do a few things.
Firstly, we need to keep Raheem Sterling out of the game. Secondly, we need to restrict the space that Steven Gerrard gets on the ball. Thirdly, we have to pressurise their defence into making some mistakes.
Head to Head
19% Head to Head Win % 54%
24 Won 68
35 Drawn 35
68 Lost 24
120 Goals Scored 214
214 Goals Conceded 120
Recent Form (excl. Friendlies)
L L W L L D Last 6 W W L W L W
7 Goals Scored 10
10 Goals Conceded 7
L L W L L L Home/Away Form W W W D W L
5 Goals Scored 17
8 Goals Conceded 13
Form Player (excl. GK)
(Last 6 League)
Stewart Downing - Steven Gerrard
6 Appearances 6
540 Minutes Played 540
210 Sum Squawka Performance Score 282
35 Average Squawka Performance Rating 47
231 Passes Attempted 415
190 Completed 355
82% Success Rate 86%
20 Chances Created 19
2 Assists 3
8 Attempts on Goal 1
5 On Target 0
2 Goals 1
9 Take Ons Attempted 0
2 Successful Take Ons 0
22% Success Rate 0%
9 Tackles Made 18
2 Successful Tackles 14
22% Success Rate 78%
4 Interceptions 3
10 Clearances 19
0 Blocks 1
2 Defensive Actions Per Game 4
1 Aerial Duels 17
1 Won 9
100% Success Rate 53%
0 Defensive Errors 0
0 Leading to a Goal 0
26 March 2014
0-1 Steven Gerrard 26'
1-1 Guy Demel 48'
1-2 Steven Gerrard 54'
4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-1-2-1-2
Adrián - Simon Mignolet
Guy Demel - Glen Johnson
James Tomkins - Martin Skrtel
Winston Reid - Mamadou Sakho
Pablo Armero - Jon Flanagan
Mark Noble - Steven Gerrard
(78') Matthew Taylor - Jordan Henderson
(85') Mohamed Diamé - Philippe Coutinho (46')
(68') Kevin Nolan - Raheem Sterling
Stewart Downing - Daniel Sturridge (85')
Andy Carroll - Luis Suarez
Jussi Jääskeläinen - Brad Jones
Roger Johnson - Kolo Touré (85')
Dan Potts - Aly Cissokho
(68') Antonio Nocerino - Joe Allen
(78') Matt Jarvis - Lucas Leiva (46')
Joe Cole - Victor Moses
(85') Carlton Cole - Iago Aspas
West Ham United: Joey O'Brien, Kevin Nolan, Matt Jarvis, Andy Carroll
Liverpool: Jon Flanagan, Glen Johnson, Emre Can, Joe Allen, Daniel Sturridge
West Ham United:
Opposition Last Time Out (League)
vs Aston Villa
Goals Scored: 0
Goals Conceded: 1
Starting Formation: 4-2-3-1
Lazar Markovic (71')
Adam Lallana (61')
Mario Balotelli (71')
Raheem Sterling (61')
Rickie Lambert (71')
Fabio Borini (71')
Best Player: Dejan Lovren(SR: 53)
Worst Player: Adam Lallana(SR: -16)
Top 5's (Min 3 Apps)
Enner Valencia 1 - 2 Raheem Sterling
Mauro Zárate 1 - 1 Alberto Moreno
Carlton Cole 1 - 1 Daniel Sturridge
Mark Noble 1 - 1 Steven Gerrard
Stewart Downing 1 -
Stewart Downing 2 - 2 Jordan Henderson
Mauro Zárate 1 - 1 Raheem Sterling
Cheikhou Kouyaté 1 -
Mauro Zárate 90% - 89% Dejan Lovren
Mark Noble 87% - 88% Jordan Henderson
Stewart Downing 85% - 86% Steven Gerrard
Winston Reid 85% - 83% Javier Manquillo
Joey O'Brien 85% - 82% Philippe Coutinho
Chances Created per 90
Stewart Downing 3.00 - 2.5 Steven Gerrard
Ricardo Vâz Te 1.26 - 2.23 Raheem Sterling
Mark Noble 1.25 - 2.06 Lazar Markovic
Aaron Cresswell 1.25 - 1.33 Alberto Moreno
Joey O'Brien 1.12 - 1.21 Philippe Coutinho
Successful Dribbles per 90
Mauro Zárate 3.17 - 3.18 Raheem Sterling
Enner Valencia 2.41 - 2.33 Daniel Sturridge
Cheikhou Kouyaté 1.25 - 2.06 Lazar Markovic
Mark Noble 0.75 - 1.67 Joe Allen
Stewart Downing 0.25 - 1.21 Philippe Coutinho
Tackles Won per 90
Cheikhou Kouyaté 3.75 - 4.00 Javier Manquillo
Mark Noble 3.25 - 2.33 Alberto Moreno
Mauro Zárate 1.87 - 2.25 Jordan Henderson
Joey O'Brien 1.81 - 2 Dejan Lovren
James Tomkins 1 - 1.75 Steven Gerrard
Aerial Duels Won per 90
James Tomkins 3.67 - 4.25 Dejan Lovren
Cheikhou Kouyaté 3.25 - 1.67 Javier Manquillo
Winston Reid 3.25 - 1.33 Alberto Moreno
Enner Valencia 2.41 - 0.75 Jordan Henderson
Joey O'Brien 2.24 - 0.75 Steven Gerrard
Sam Allardyce - Brendan Rodgers
39.4% Win % 55.8%
56 Won 57
33 Drawn 21
53 Lost 24
0 League Titles 0
0 Cup Wins 0
01/06/2011 Appointed 01/06/2012
3y 111d Time in Charge 2y 110d
39.6% Win % 45.4%
350 Won 115
232 Drawn 63
300 Lost 75
7 Sides Managed 4
2 League Titles 0
0 Cup Wins 0
Preston North End First Managerial Role Watford
30/09/1992 Start Date 24/11/2008
21y 354d Experience 5y 299d