29 Apr 2014

You Failed: Arsenal hero slams £20m LFC star's 'poor decisions' vs Chelsea. Harsh?

Despite a season of exciting, expansive attacking play, Liverpool's flair players singularly failed to break down a stupefyingly negative resolute Chelsea team on Sunday, and Arsenal legend Martin Keown insists that Brazilian star Philippe Coutinho cost the Reds dearly with his wasteful play.

Analysing Liverpool's 2-0 defeat, Keown praised Chelsea for 'suffocating Liverpool’s creativity', and pinpointed Coutinho for specific criticism. He mused:

"At times Liverpool were their own worst enemies, often trying too hard. Though Philippe Coutinho scored against City, he made poor decisions in that game and again on Sunday".

£20m-rated Coutinho is wasteful in the final third sometimes, especially when it comes to shots on goal (!), but is it fair to say he made 'poor decisions' against Chelsea? I don't recall one specific incident in the game that could be labelled as a 'poor decision', but let's look at the stats:

Passing Accuracy

* Coutinho: 83.9%
* Sterling: 94.2%
* Gerrard: 84%
* Allen: 78%
* Suarez: 71%

Successful Crosses

* Coutinho: 3 out of 10
* Sterling: 0/7
* Gerrard: 0/8
* Allen: 1/3
* Suarez: 2/5

Key Passes

* Coutinho: 7
* Sterling: 3
* Gerrard: 2
* Allen: 0
* Suarez: 5

Shots on Target

* Coutinho: 0 out of 5
* Sterling: 0 (None attempted)
* Gerrard: 4/9
* Allen: 2/2
* Suarez: 2/5

Stats: OPTA

Whilst Coutinho's is certainly wasteful with his shooting, he's not the only one, and these stats clearly show that, overall, the Brazilian was not the most wasteful attacking player on Sunday:

- Allen and Suarez were more wasteful with passes.
- Sterling, Gerrard and Allen wasted more crosses.

Coutinho provided the most key passes/shot assists on the day, and in other games, those might've led to assists. In all honesty, though, Liverpool's shooting and crossing is pretty atrocious, and that needs to improve big time next season.

Sterling is having a great season, but he failed to deliver a single accurate cross against Chelsea, and didn't get off a single shot on goal. That's not good enough. Ditto Allen with key passes, and Gerrard with crosses.

Coutinho can't be expected to do it all by himself, especially when faced with the best defence in the league, and a wall of ten Chelsea players ahead of him. He needed help from from other players in the team, but when it comes to attacking, the likes of Lucas and Allen are not on the same wavelength.

Additionally, the absence of Sturridge further restricted Coutinho as it meant there was no real outlet for his masterful range of defence-splitting through balls.

Coutinho made poor shooting decisions, but did he make any other dodgy game-play choices? As for the Man City game. Who cares? Coutinho scored the winning goal, and that's all that matters.



  1. Coutinho's stats look better than they are as he equates a huge number of his 'passes' with short tapped passes to players standing next to him. If you analyse his key passes and chances created, his stats are very very poor. Ozil at Arsenal has been berated all season but if you look at his chances created % they are one of the highest in Europe but Arsenal's donkey strikers haven't taken them. We have two of the best in the Europe but Coutinho hasn't given them the ammunition they deserve and they have created their own goals between them. Coutinho is nowhere in comparison to the Ozil's and i do think he flatters to deceive. Keown was right to an extent because by scoring the winner against City it concealed a poor game in my opinion.

  2. No one at Liverpool even slightly cares what Martin Keown thinks. So why even give his mumblings the time of day?

  3. From the looks of it; That was Gerrard's worst game this season. Not a single cross reached it's target? As for the title, my belief is same as the old whiskey nose; who had once said, "84 points will land you the title".

  4. Despite the loss, I should say that it was a good performance from the lads. How can anyone win against a team of Carraghers? All 11 of them.

  5. Coutinho relies on high risk-high reward play.

    It's tough to break down a team with the precision pass, but he does that regularly. It's even tougher to break down a team with a precision pass through 10 men.

  6. I'm a little tired of all these "experts" slamming BR and the team and am equally tired of all the excuses from our fans. I was there and Chelsea were never going to score except from that slip so all this "BR got it wrong" is nonsense because it would have ended 0-0 and we would still have it in our hands.
    And the fans, Chelsea were boring and did their best to slow things down and it worked! But then again, I've seen Liverpool use the same tactics serveral times in Europe in the two runs to the CL finals in 05 and 07 - lets not be hypocrites. We only have our selves to blame because we all forgot that THEY were the ones who needed to win at anfield and not us. So lets stop moaning because Chelsea got the rub of the green because we've also had our fair share of luck this season.
    We're still in this, City have three games to win and we have two. The game is gone, we've got palace next, and the focus should be on three points there!

  7. Seem to remember pool parking THREE buses at the Emirates in the league where one of the worst players was made to look like he was playing for the "Dog & Duck", and subsequently, gifted City the title on sunday....can you name him in one? I bet everyone can!!! lol

  8. Here,here,onto the next game,it ain't over till its over!

  9. Wrong of Keown to single out Coutinho,when the whole team lacked a creative spark. I believe Brendan will come away from that game a little embarrassed, because the onus wasn't on us to win the game. We should have played more possession football, I know that sounds strange when we had 76% of the ball,but when faced with a blanket defense, then we should have played in front of them and waited for our chance and if it didn't happen,not to worry,we'd still have our destiny in our hands. Sometimes we have to look at the bigger picture and not losing can be more important than winning. I can't see Brendan making the same mistake again! We need to beat Palace no matter what, that way we take it to the last day, I'd have taken that at the start of the season. Keep the faith! YNWA

  10. It will be tough ... I can see Pulis playing same way

  11. I think the problem Sunday was the timing of the first goal so close to HT - it seemed to affect us mentally and much of our attacking play showed signs of trying too hard as the game wore on. Gerrard most of all seemed desperate to atone for his error and it seemed to affect his decision making.
    Hopefully the players will learn from this experience.

  12. Jamie: You must have missed the news, but Suarez won the PFA Player of the Year award.

  13. Coutinho wasn't so bad, but his shooting is too often from way out, like 30 yards, and way off target - his goal against City was the exception, but he can still be dangerous and let off some good shots, would be better if he took them from 20 yards or less.

    Not sure why Sterling didn't attempt any from outside the box, after his goal at Norwich, might be worth another try.

    Gerrard perhaps took a few too many from outside, rather than seek a pass, but whatever, had to do what had to do.

    Allen, while he didn't set any chances up, at least his 2 efforts were on target.

    Suarez, set up the better chances of the evening, and took a couple of chances, but things were difficult.

    Overall, it's hard to fault any of them too much, they tried, the 10 man wall was beyond parking the bus. Chelsea played even more defensively than they did against Atletico - you would be hard pressed to find game where players sat so deep. I looked at avg. position in a bunch of different games, and the only one that came close was Grenada vs. Barca - even Westham's 19th game against chelsea had about 3 players in the opposition half. It was extreme

  14. But on another note - it's time to start including Johnson in the analysis of offensive players, he spends so much time in the final third, he should be. Johnson had 1 key pass, 2 shots off target, and wasted possession in the final third at least a half dozen times. He's the 4th most advanced player, behind Suarez, Sterling, and Coutinho, yet his contribution is negligible.

    Don't want to sound like a broken record, but I've come to realize he's a much bigger problem than he appears to be, he get's let off on his defensive frailties because he's more of an attacking player, and gets let off of his attacking weakness, because he's fullback. Doesn't perform either duty well. If he's going to be spending so much time in the final third, he should know how to make a through ball, how to cross, and how to shoot.

  15. Agree with the GJ assessment. He is a liability with the ball in the final third. I groaned every time we passed to the right side. Chelski gave that space to GJ all day and I grew to suspect it was intentional because they knew he was the weak link.

  16. The team takes its cues from Stevie. An affected Gerrard affects the whole team.

  17. It's a very high standard he's being held to but that makes sense. You could watch the games again and ask yourself if Coutinho consistently makes the right pass at the right time. I would tend to agree that he didn't and he's been a little frustrating to watch lately. He gets in space but doesn't always know what to do with the ball when facing an organised defence. It's the same for most others in the team too but Suarez and Sterling produced those moments of magic against City where as Coutinho has been just a bit quiet. His goal was brilliant but that's not what we normally expect from him. I think "poor decisions" is over the top, it's just that he doesn't always make the killer pass. Like I said - a very high standard.

  18. Ever since he was struggling with injury he's not been up to his usual standard. I think the problem is that he's part of our build up play, not the final product. He's been just fine in terms of keeping possession and not making mistakes but he's done very little in terms of final product. You can see him around the edges of the box and he does OK to make sure the midfield has a release or that we can get to the byline. I wonder if he's just not expected to be the player to make or take the final pass. When you've got Suarez, Sterling, Coutinho and Sturridge in front of you your job is really to get them the ball in space and then get out of the way. I don't see much room in our formation for Johnson to actually be a proper attacking threat. His advanced position belies his actual role which is to stay wide and just be a link-up player. If he ends up in the box I think something has gone wrong. I also think his shooting licence has been taken away.

  19. Yes I've been saying all year it's time to cash in on him. I'm sure he will be gone this summer.

  20. biggestfandownunder6:59 am, April 30, 2014

    Great analysis, Jaimie. Wish people like Keown would do their homework before opening their pie-hole. It amazes me how x-players can single specific players out for unfounded criticism.

  21. We were restricted to a lot of long range shots due to Chelsea having everyone in the box. So its understandable that the accuracy in the game was down.
    But I agree that overall it does need to improve.

  22. Was thinking the same thing, they targeted the higher risk targets, let Glen do his thing.

  23. Thankfully his shooting license has been taken away, he has taken about half the amount from last year.

    Also he has to be expected to make the final pass - if he can't shoot, or make the final pass, what is he an outlet only? It would be a good excuse if it were true, but I highly doubt he's just following instructions.

    He has assisted twice, so have Kolo and Enrique. His contribution has to be higher for a player that's so far advanced.

  24. To be fair, the only thing that caused us to lose was an unfortunate slip from the skipper. Chelsea would never have scored, we would have drawn and still been on for the title. I still believe we'll win it, cos Everton are more than capable of at least getting a draw against city. YNWA

  25. Coutinho needs the power and energy of Jordan Henderson, to have the vital space and time to do his thing. Unfortunately, while Joe Allen is a good player, cannot do what Henderson can do on the pitch and Lucas isn't anymore the player he was in 2011 (before his successive injuries). Maybe when we play against lesser teams we can find the solutions but against the "big boys" Jordan - and in form Sturridge also - are vital...

  26. Three buses ?? - date please, and who ??