Liverpool’s top four finish hinges on key defensive factor backed up by surprising statistic
Jurgen Klopp’s side have tightened up since the heavy Wolves defeat and now a top four finish looks achievable.
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Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Wolves last night was a welcome return to form as they moved within six points of fourth place thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah and Virgil Van Dijk.
The Reds also boast a game in hand and they are suddenly back in the mix for Champions League qualification, having lingered down in mid-table over the course of the winter months.
Last night’s clean sheet against Wolves also meant that it’s now been four consecutive shutouts for Jurgen Klopp’s side since their crushing 3-0 defeat away against the same opposition, and their defensive resurgence has certainly come at the right time.
According to the Tactical Times, across the four games against Everton, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Wolves, Liverpool have conceded eight big chances, with an expected goals against of 3.93.
Whilst it may seem like a high figure that suggests Liverpool were lucky not to concede, during the 3-0 defeat to Wolves last month they conceded six big chances in that game alone, whilst posting an xGA of 2.63 - so there’s clearly been some progress made.
Of course, looking back at those games there was certainly guilt-edge chances missed by Jean Philippe-Mateta for Palace and Callum Wilson for Newcastle. Plus, an early red card hampered the Magpies from ever mounting a sustained attack at St James’ Park and Everton clearly have obvious goalscoring issues too. But, progress is progress.
Sandwiched inbetween this run was the crushing 5-2 home defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League, which showed that you simply can’t afford to give chances, or even a small opening, to world-class operators who will make you pay as Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior did so brutally at Anfield.
Although, it has to be said recent games have seen a welcome return to form for Van Dijk who has no doubt been key, as he capped off a successful week after being named in the FIFA Team of the Year once again alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe.
Last night also saw a vintage Fabinho performance which was described by Klopp as an ‘old-school Fabinho performance’ and his three tackles and three interceptions was far more typical of what we’ve come to expect from the Brazilian.
Next up is Manchester United at Anfield who’ve not been short of goals at all, having recorded 12 in their last five and the Red Devils have only lost once since November. An in-form Marcus Rashford and co will no doubt test Liverpool’s resolve, as we will have to wait and see if this real progress or just a short upturn in performance.