Liverpool vs Watford: Shots On Target Bonanza!

As a self confessed nerd for all things both stats- and Liverpool FC-based, I keep a spreadsheet of how many shots on target the Reds and their opponents have in league games. My database begins in August 2008, meaning that I now have 315 matches in there.

So when Daniel Sturridge had Liverpool’s sixteenth shot on target in injury time against Watford (which was saved but then Wijnaldum slotted home the sixth goal on the rebound), I knew that this surpassed the club’s previous record for this period of fifteen, which was achieved at home to Burnley in 2009/10. But that was only the beginning…

The first tweet I saw after the match to address this came from James Yorke of Statsbomb:

Wow. Liverpool’s shots on target performance against the Hornets wasn’t just a club record, but a Premier League-wide record for the past seven-and-a-bit seasons. Impressive work from Jürgen’s mighty Reds, and also Mr Yorke for knowing that.

Except that it went on even further. Not to be outdone, and as the keepers of the hallowed data, Opta revealed the following.

Holy Comolli. Liverpool set a new shots on target record for the previous FIVE THOUSAND AND FIFTY top flight games in England. Sorry to shout there, but I think it’s justified. Bear in mind that even top performing shots on target teams take around three games to have this many, never mind the likes of Burnley and Sunderland who take around seven matches to register seventeen efforts on target.

This remarkable performance also means that Liverpool now average more shots on target per game than any of the other ninety-seven teams in Europe’s top five leagues this season.

This table shows that performing at around this level of form for shots on target isn’t just a one off for Liverpool at the moment, even if the Watford match was extreme. Over the last eight seasons, the Reds have had ten-or-more shots on target twenty-two times, or just under three per season, yet after eleven matches this term Liverpool have already hit this benchmark four times.

It’s only fair that I praise Watford, and chastise Liverpool, a little here too, as the visitors had eight shots on target of their own. More from James Yorke, replying to his above tweet:

Here we are now, entertain us. It’s at least seven years since a Premier League match saw more shots on target than were witnessed at Anfield on Sunday. The remarkable stats keep piling up.

This one isn’t so rosy for the Reds though. Liverpool’s opponents have only had more than eight shots on target nine times in the last eight seasons, and this lead Loris Karius to make seven saves (a figure which a Liverpool ‘keeper has only topped five times in this period).

Granted, five of Watford’s shots on target occurred after the Reds had gone 5-0 up, so a degree of easing off by Klopp’s men was inevitable, but equally the manager won’t be happy about how many chances Watford then created.

I’m not one to moan about a lack of a clean sheet when Liverpool have banged in a hatful of goals and won the game, but whereas it doesn’t matter so much if Hull score their only shot on target in losing 5-1, we don’t want the Reds to get in to the habit of allowing opponents a bagful of opportunities like they did against Watford. It’s better to be critical about it and improve from a position of strength now, rather than scrabbling to make changes if the goals dry up a bit further down the line.

The Reds go into the international break as Premier League shots on target record setters, and also the form team in Europe (see below); Southampton away can’t come soon enough.

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