Whilst the euphoria at Anfield may not have completely deflated following the arrival of their new manager, it hasn’t taken long for the effervescent Jürgen Klopp to discover that achieving Champions League qualification for Liverpool in league as competitive as the Premier League will be no easy task.
A respectable away draw at White Hart Lane and two impressive away wins against Chelsea and Manchester City, suggested that Klopp’s magic was having an immediate effect; but confidence sapping defeats against Crystal Palace, Newcastle United and most recently against Watford leave Liverpool struggling in 9th place ahead of the hectic Christmas program.
So what has changed in Liverpool’s play when examining the eight league games under Brendan Rodgers and comparing them with the first nine games of Klopp’s reign?
Under Klopp Liverpool are holding onto the ball and maintaining higher levels of live ball possession (58.4%) than under Rodgers (53.3%), even when holding a lead.
Despite conceding more goals per game under Klopp (1.33) than Rodgers (1.25), statistically Liverpool’s defensive performances have been better, with Liverpool performing a higher percentage of good defensive actions (46.1% compared to 38.9% under Rodgers) and a lower percentage of bad actions (13.4% compared to 15.6% under Rodgers). But regardless of how well Liverpool have defended as a unit, individual defensive errors have been extremely costly.
With Rodgers in charge, Liverpool reached more goal scoring chances per game (13.0) than under Klopp (10.1); however fewer than half of their chances were converted into a shooting opportunities, with less than 5% of chances ending in a goal. Since Klopp has been in charge Liverpool have converted a higher percentage (61.5%) of their chances into shots and a higher percentage (7.7%) into goals.
However in front of goal Liverpool have so far been less effective under Klopp, with 18.6% of their shots rated as being dangerous compared to 27.6% under Rodgers.
One area which will surely be of some concern to Klopp is how his new team deal with defensive set pieces. Under Rodgers Liverpool conceded three times in eight games, one of which was a penalty.
Under Klopp Liverpool are having to defend a lower percentage of dangerous set pieces (14.1% compared to 20.5% under Rodgers); but have conceded five times in nine games from 92 set pieces.
As an attacking force, the Reds have been just as anaemic when delivering set pieces, with only 14.1% rated as being dangerous, compared to 23% when Rodgers was in charge. Under Rodgers Liverpool scored twice from set plays, under the ebullient German they have also scored twice, one of which was a penalty.
Klopp will be fully aware of the problem that his team is facing; but with a transfer window looming and his players still adapting to his style of play, it should only be matter of time until his team are able to challenge the top four teams.