Nerdy by Nature – Villa Game

This was a very weird game. I’m not sure I was ever really scared we would lose, but I definitely was scared that the perfect home season was going to be lost with a draw. It felt like Liverpool never really got out of 2nd gear – and coming on the heels of the City game, that was definitely concerning. But all ended well so all good. Let’s dig into the numbers shall we?

Naby Keita – to me, he was the man of the match. And the numbers back it up. He was everywhere on the field, had a beautiful assist on the Sadio Mane goal and was involved everywhere. He led the team with 18 pressing actions. Which is actually low for a LFC Klopp team but with Liverpool having the lion’s share of the ball, it’s hard to press more. In those 18 pressing actions, he was successful almost 40% which is excellent. Take a look at his heat map here and you can see he really was all over the field and controlled that left side as well as the center of the park.

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In addition, let’s talk about that assist. Mane killed the ball. It was an absolutely beautiful goal. But that pass was majestic. When you take a look at the picture below – which is a still – you can see how much of a needle he had to thread to get the ball to Mane. Remember, everyone is moving at full speed Keita was able to pin point this ball through the middle.

Roberto Firmino – yeah he only played 31 minutes but man was he amazing. There is a reason that many call him “The System”. Liverpool played somewhat aimlessly until he came on. Then, everything changed. There are two things I want to highlight. Firmino had 7 pressing actions in his time on the field. That’s a per90 equivalent of 21 in a full game. And he was successful in his pressing actions as well at a 30% rate, pretty good for a forward. He also completed 94% of his passes including 2 into the penalty area. He also had 5 progressive passes. Y’all, this is in 30 minutes. He fit a decent player’s game into 30 minutes. He has been struggling getting on the score sheet since even before the break – but he changes the game with his pressing as well as his ability to draw defenders all over the place allowing for others to have space.

Curtis Jones – as Liverpool fans, when a local kid comes good, we lose our minds over it. And sometimes, that’s bad. I fully cop to this. He’s been in the Liverpool set up since he was 9. And I’m throwing him in here because he was pretty good. Of course it was only for 6 minutes but in that 6 minutes, he scored a goal, completed a successful dribble, passed at a 90% clip and, as it shows on Vijay’s Fun-o-Meter, he scored a 95/100. Yes this is an insanely small sample size but this is my article and so he’s in there.
That’s clearly a stat that’s hard to find online but I can provide a Fun-O-Meter score for anyone you’d like. Anyway, he deserved a mention because he was fun to watch and he’s a local kid.

Divock Origi – y’all, we need to have a serious conversation. Please sit down as we chat. Thank you. Y’all, Origi is a hero. His goals against Barcelona, his multiple Everton derby goals, his goal against Newcastle last year that kept things going, his goal to seal the UCL victory, man, he is a legend. But… he isn’t good enough for this club anymore. Maybe he can remain as a super sub – I’d completely be fine with that honestly – but when he starts, in general, the offense goes nowhere and gets stuck. In a Klopp system, the forwards need to press often. He only had 6 pressing actions. Firmino had more in half the time. I don’t expect him to be as good as Firmino in terms of quality, but at least do the work. In addition, he lost his only aerial duel, he had 3 fouls while only receiving 1, had only 26 touches and had nothing in terms of key passes, or even shot creating attempts. This isn’t the first time he’s been really poor. I’d love to keep him – I still trust him to come on with 10 minutes left and do something insane. But that’s not statistically sustainable.

What do y’all think? Leave your comments below.