By Jonathan Carroll
Liverpool’s second half performances have come under much scrutiny lately. Even though the reds sit in second spot in the Premier League on goal difference behind Arsenal, the second forty-five minutes of each game have been anything but impressive. Brendan Rodgers’ men have played nine games so far this season. Seven in the league and two in the Carling Cup. With the manager recently rejecting that a lack of fitness has caused the second half slump, a deeper look is needed. As a follow-up to my previous article. “Is Fitness an Issue for Liverpool FC?” I will attempt to breakdown the season so far. Seven games have been played in the league and two in the Carling Cup. The results so far this season are as follows:
|Aug 17||Liverpool||1-0||Stoke City||Premier League|
|Aug 24||Aston Villa||0-1||Liverpool||Premier League|
|Aug 27||Liverpool||4-2||Notts County||Capital One Cup|
|Sep 1||Liverpool||1-0||Manchester United||Premier League|
|Sep 16||Swansea City||2-2||Liverpool||Premier League|
|Sep 21||Liverpool||0-1||Southampton||Premier League|
|Sep 25||Manchester United||1-0||Liverpool||Capital One Cup|
|Sep 29||Sunderland||1-3||Liverpool||Premier League|
|Oct 5||Liverpool||3-1||Crystal Palace||Premier League|
- Liverpool first half goals scored: 12
- Liverpool first half goals conceded: 1
- First half goal difference: +11
- Liverpool second haf goals scored: 3
- Liverpool second half goals conceded: 7
- Second half goal difference: -4
- Second half goal difference excluding Notts County: -6
The Merseysiders have outscored their opponents 12 to 1 in the first half of 9 games so far this season. The telling statistic that highlights a second half slump is the fact that Liverpool have only scored 3 second half goals this season and conceded 7. That number of goals scored is not a true reflection as 2 of those goals came in extra time against Notts County in a Carling Cup game. Take those two goals away and Liverpool have 1 second half goal in nine games of football this season, eight hundred and ten minutes of football.
This is a shocking statistic, and one that has cost Liverpool points. The dour second half performances against Southampton and Swansea spring to mind. Take into consideration once again that Liverpool are now second in the league on goal difference after nine games. If they had in fact won against Swansea and drawn against Southampton that would currently have Liverpool top by three points. An external factor to consider is that Liverpool have looked more potent since Luis Suarez arrived back in the team. The Uruguayan striker wasn’t available until after the Southampton game. Perhaps a look back on the next nine games will show a clearer picture.
If Brendan Rodgers can get his team to reproduce the first half form from here on out it would see the reds take first place by all accounts. However, this would require a very high level of performance from a thin squad and therefore not something that could be maintained over the course of a season. For a team that has not fired on all cylinders, the current league position is impressive after all. There is still work to do for Rodgers and his strength and conditioning team as the statistics show but the signs are positive right now. After all, before the season started how many Liverpool supporters would have predicted the current league position after seven games? Few, if any.