During the Sky Sports programme Monday Night Football, Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville made a very keen observation regarding Liverpool in their defeat against Chelsea - they were not efficient on the ball.
I will go one step further and say that inefficient usage of the ball is quite typical of Liverpool. "Hang on, they've scored 96 goals", is what I can hear some of you saying. Yes, they have scored a mind numbing 96 goals but it could have been a whole heap more if they were more efficient on the ball. Allow me to elaborate by comparing Liverpool's awesome foursome with that of Manchester City's.
According to WhoScored, Luis Suarez has suffered the joint-second highest turnovers in the league, 2.8 per game. His passing accuracy is also an alarming 74.9%. In comparison, Sergio Aguero only has 1.6 turnovers per game (28th highest) and his passing accuracy is a healthy 84.3%.
WhoScored has Daniel Sturridge's turnover rate at 1.9 per game, dispossession rate at 1.8 per game and his passing at 79.2%. Meanwhile Alvaro Negredo's turnover rate is 1.4 per game, his dispossession rate is a poultry 1 per game, albeit his passing is rather woeful at 76.4%.
Rabid winger Raheem Sterling is one of the best Liverpool have at keeping the ball and this is represented by the fact he has only suffered a turnover 1.3 times per game and has been dispossessed 1.9 times per game. His passing accuracy is also the best of the four wih 81.3%. However, these figures pale in significance to Samir Nasri. Nasri has been dispossessed 1.7 times per game, but what really stands out is his turnover figure (1 per game) and his passing accuracy (91.3%). Simply put he is in another league in terms of ball retention.
Finally, in the battle of the playmakers, Philippe Coutinho has been dispossessed 1.4 times per game, a figure better than David Silva's 1.9 per game. The figures are slightly reversed when taking into account turnovers; Coutinho suffers this 1.1 times, whilst Silva's is only 0.9. Where daylight comes in between the two is passing accuracy, Coutinho's is a disappointing 80.2&, while Silva's is 87.9%.
Overall, the two teams might be as potent as each other in front of goal but the figures suggest that Manchester City maximise the most of their efforts whilst Liverpool have squander many of theirs during the build up play.
Against most teams this is not a problem, they give Liverpool enough space to work their magic or are simply not organised enough to keep out Liverpool for a whole game. However, against teams like West Brom, West Ham and indeed Chelsea who like to park the proverbial bus, Liverpool have a severe problem on their hands. The rabid but ultimately unkempt flow of attack is stymied by a brick wall, much like a furious burst of water is pacified by a secure dam.
Today, Crystal Palace entertain Liverpool at the Selhurst and will most likely adopt the same adopt the same tactics that has frustrated Liverpool so much this season. Brendan Rodgers has to ensure Liverpool attack in an orderly and patient fashion if they are to walk away from Selhurst Park with all 3 points and keep their title charge alive.
*Statistics courtesy of WhoScored