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Midfield barring Coutinho to blame for Liverpool scoring woes

| 03.01.2016

Scoring goals is proving a nightmare for Liverpool this season. Through the opening 20 matches of the campaign, only five clubs have netted fewer than the Reds’ 22 Premier League strikes.

Since thumping Manchester City 4-1 in late November to spark serious belief that Liverpool were dark horses to win the Premier League title, Jurgen Klopp has watched his team score only five times across seven league outings. This has left them as outsiders to make the top four, let alone be crowned champions.

They have also drawn blanks in three of their last six, all away from Anfield.

This lack of potency is all the more surprising considering no team has fashioned more goal attempts since Klopp’s top-flight dugout debut for the goalless draw with Tottenham on October 17th.

In Liverpool’s 11 games under the guidance of the former Borussia Dortmund boss, they have created 205 goal attempts. Next best in this period is Man City with 183.

However, they have scored just 14 goals, which translate to a conversion rate of just 6.8 per cent. West Brom have also managed 14 goals in the same period, yet they have needed only 118 goal attempts.

It’s easy to blame the strikers for this wastefulness, but Daniel Sturridge has barely played in the Premier League under Klopp, while Christian Benteke’s conversion rate in this period is an acceptable 13.8 per cent thanks to four goals from 29 attempts.

Although this is still well below Harry Kane’s 23.8 per cent, Romelu Lukaku’s 22.7 per cent, Olivier Giroud’s 20.6 per cent, Odion Ighalo’s 20 per cent and Jamie Vardy’s 19.5 per cent from the same block of fixtures.

Looking into Klopp’s selection of midfielders, it is clear that this is where inefficiency is at its most rife.

Philippe Coutinho is Liverpool’s most regular shooter under Klopp and he has only netted four of his 39 attempts. What’s noticeable though is that only 12 of these have come from inside the box.

His conversion rate is over 10 per cent, but it’s clear that the Brazilian’s decision making may need to improve when collecting possession 25 yards from goal.

But Coutinho’s midfield partners are pulling their weight even less.

Roberto Firmino has one goal from 18 attempts, Adam Lallana hasn’t scored from the same number, Jordon Ibe has no goals from 14 attempts and Emre Can has failed to net from 12.

This quartet have played over 3,100 minutes of Premier League football under Klopp, had 62 goal attempts in 12 matches between them and contributed just one goal and this was tap in.

Liverpool currently have a goal difference of -2 through 20 fixtures and it is clear that scoring goals is going to be the biggest factor as to whether they finish in the top four this season.

After the latest 2-0 defeat to West Ham, Liverpool have drifted to 11/5 to finish in the top four.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.