Norwich 10/22/2011: Wasteful

Here’s how the post-match reaction will pan out.

Liverpool created lots of chances. Liverpool were unlucky not to get the three points. Norwich put in a brave shift and earned their point. Andy Carroll performed poorly as a substitute and missed an easy header at the end. Luis Suarez was once again the center of all Liverpool attacks and was the man of the match.

Here’s how the post-match reaction should pan out.

Liverpool had 29 shots on goal, only 9 of which were on target, only 1 of which was a goal.

I thought it was just a case of not being on form in the finishing department, but that’s a 31% on-target ratio and a 3.44% chance conversion rate. That is woeful and unacceptable. If someone were to come along and do a league table based on chance conversion ratios, I’m pretty sure Liverpool would be damn near the bottom.

Based purely on these numbers, Liverpool were absolutely not unlucky not to get the three points. The fact that we created 29 chances and should still be worrying about three points is absurd in the first place. And the fact that given all these chances gone begging and Norwich putting together some neat passing play should send Kenny Dalglish and his coaching team back to the drawing room.

Because, let’s be honest here: who wasn’t thinking that Norwich would sneak a result at Anfield given how wasteful we were?

It’s a results business. For all of Damien Comolli’s revolutionary statistic-driven measurements, the single most important statistic in the end is the final result, which depends on number of goals scored. On current evidence, the chances are being created, which is a good thing, but no one is putting them away. The January transfer window must be used to rectify this, or it’ll be a long rest of the season.

Yes, Andy Carroll should have headed that Gerrard cross in. And he will be criticized for that. But spare the boy a thought: it’s his first chance in almost 180 minutes of football. His positioning has improved, and his chance conversion ratio is definitely superior to that of his strike partner.

Yes, we went back to route-one football after Carroll came on. But that’s because Kenny took out Stewart Downing, who is consistently disappointing in every aspect of the game other than crossing. And because Steven Gerrard, who’s capable of the teasing crosses that yielded that last-gasp chance for Carroll when he’s playing on the right, can’t deliver balls in from the wide areas if he plays in the center. When Craig Bellamy, Downing and Gerrard were peppering John Ruddy’s goal with crosses in the first half, where was Carroll? On the bench.

And yes, Luis Suarez is mesmeric. He is mercurial. He is also frustrating and wasteful. There are no two ways about it. For eight games I’ve been complaining about his lack of finishing ability. Today he has shown everyone why he’s not world-class. Yes, he creates chances all by himself. Yes, he makes things happen out of nothing. But what good does that do when nothing comes of those chances? What good is carving space for yourself from a neat turn or a good show of upper strength when you don’t have a finish at the end of it to show for your efforts?

The great Bob Paisley once said, “If you’re in the penalty area and don’t know what to do with the ball, put it in the net and we’ll discuss the options later.”

Every single player in this Liverpool team would do well to listen.


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