Are Liverpool too wasteful? Here's what the xG statistics show

In the wake of Liverpool's failure to see off Manchester United in their 2-2 draw on Sunday afternoon, many have been posing the same question: are the Reds too wasteful?

Jurgen Klopp's side initially took the lead courtesy of Luis Diaz, dominating the first half with an array of chances against their opponents.

However, echoing their FA Cup quarter-final defeat last month at the same venue, Liverpool found themselves regretting their profligacy as Bruno Fernandes and Kobbie Mainoo's strikes in the second half turned the game on its head.

Although Mohamed Salah's late penalty would ultimately rescue a point, the Reds were left to rue what might have been, having engineered an expected goals (xG) scoreline of 0.87-3.92.

Erik ten Hag's men faced a staggering 28 shots on Sunday, their highest ever in a Premier League fixture at Old Trafford, as per Opta.

A worrying trend?

In the reverse fixture, which ended in a goalless draw at Anfield in December, Liverpool amassed 34 attempts on goal. This combined tally of 62 shots is a record in Premier League history for attempts by one side against another in a single season.

Astonishingly, Liverpool failed to win either game, only managing to secure two points.

Taking into account last month's 4-3 FA Cup loss, where Liverpool bombarded United with an additional 25 shots, this brings the season's total to 87, yielding zero victories.

For context, in last season's memorable 7-0 triumph at Anfield, Liverpool needed only 18 shots and finished the game with an xG total of 2.91. While that match might have been an outlier, it starkly highlights these underwhelming attacking performances.

So, what do the stats say? Should we be concerned?

Lack of cutting edge

A closer look at the xG statistics make somewhat worrying reading for the Reds.

According to Understat, of the 21 outfield players who have played more than 45 minutes in the Premier League this season, only seven Liverpool players have equalled or bettered their xG tally.

Unsurprisingly, Diogo Jota leads this particular list, having scored nine goals from an xG of 5.93 (+3.07).

Alexis Mac Allister comes second with four goals from an xG of 2.33 (+1.67).

Harvey Elliott (+0.70) and Wataru Endo (+0.69) are next on the list, with Conor Bradley (+0.10), Dominik Szoboszlai (+0.09) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (+0.08) much further down the list.

Diogo Jota

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Chelsea FC LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 31, 2024: Liverpool s Diogo Jota celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda LIVERPOOL Anfield MERSEYSIDE ENGLAND PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK Copyright: xDavidxRawcliffex P2024-01-31-Liverpool_Chelsea-31

Biggest culprits

Of the remaining 14 players who have underperformed in front of goal, there is no prize for guessing who leads the profligacy chart for Liverpool.

Darwin Nunez has scored 11 Premier League goals this season, but according to the statistics, the Uruguayan ought to have bagged 17.71. That's a deficit of 6.71 goals.

Another major culprit for the Reds is Luis Diaz. The Colombian winger is second on the chart with a -2.66, scoring eight goals compared to an expected 10.66.

Luis Diaz Liverpool

Luis Diaz Liverpool

Mohamed Salah is also in the red, but only by -0.76, scoring 17 from an expected 17.76.

Cody Gakpo, meanwhile, is more or less on par, but nonetheless on -0.49, having scored just six goals this season.

This means that all of the forwards that were on the pitch at Old Trafford on Sunday are underperforming in front of goal - not just on the day, but across the season overall.

But what's the solution? More shooting practice?

Jota's return should make a big difference. But does Klopp's successor need to take a hard look at upgrading his side's forward options?

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