John Aldridge has been writing in the Liverpool Echo (here) about how poor the Reds are at corners.
“The situation with Liverpool corners and set-pieces in general has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous… from our own corners, we don’t look like we even know what we’re doing.”
Regular readers will know that this is exactly the sort of thing I like to look into, so here’s what I found.
The starting point was Squawka, as they list the number of goals teams have scored from corner situations, and it turns out that Liverpool are one of the Premier League’s better teams this season, and not too far off the top:
Perhaps a big part of the problem is that only one of the Reds’ four goals has been a direct assist from a corner; James Milner set up Danny Ings for the opener at Goodison Park in Brendan Rodgers’ final match in charge.
Fans therefore think that Liverpool are terrible with corners, when other goals can be factored in too; Benteke’s goal against Bournemouth counts, for instance (as this blurry homemade vine and Opta chart demonstrate).
This probably proves Aldo’s point in one way, as Liverpool have only scored directly from a corner once this season. But again, only four teams have done so more than twice, so it proves once again that whilst the Reds can improve, and would obviously benefit from doing so, they’re really not much worse than most teams as it is.
Something that surprised me, via WhoScored’s excellent ‘detailed’ stats tab, is that the Reds have played the most accurate corners this season at the time of writing.
You’ll also notice above that only three sides have a higher accuracy percentage too, and even then they’re all only better by under one percent. Sadly, WhoScored don’t provide a breakdown of short or crossed corners; I noticed after the West Brom match at Anfield at Liverpool that the home side favoured short corners (see below), and when faced with an opponent full of Pulis-inspired giants, it’s a sensible (and almost certainly deliberate) tactic. Bear in mind that the blue arrows below signify that the corner taker found a teammate, and on the red one they did not.
The problem from an analytical view here is that I don’t know and can’t find out how many of the accurate short corners lead to a shot at goal immediately afterwards, but the aforementioned Benteke goal is a perfect example of what can happen. The ball was passed outside the box, immediately returned to the corner taker, who can then cross from a different angle, and the opposition defence is not as well set to deal with the incoming ball. To finish, a look at the goals from corner totals for the fifteen teams who have been in the Premier League for each of the last four seasons.
The most interesting thing for me here is probably how consistent the total figure for these teams has been; an average of 91 goals from corners across the last three full seasons, and 45 at the half-way point of 2015/16 too. It’s also worth noting that Chelsea aside it seems very difficult for a team to hit double figures more than once. We can also see that Liverpool have done well considering their reputation on corners, albeit having been boosted by the remarkable 2013/14 campaign. And who would have guessed Stoke would be third bottom?!
I guess the main thing to take away from the article is that whilst Liverpool are not particularly great with corners, neither is anybody else.
Thanks for reading in 2015, have a great new year.