It has now been three months since Liverpool decided to replace Brendan Rodgers with Jürgen Klopp.
This move instantly transformed the atmosphere around the club and was welcomed by most supporters. However, since a trio of high scoring wins away to Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton the shine has begun to wear off a little.
So has Liverpool’s move paid instant dividends, as the market suggested it would when the price on a top four finish spiked following Klopp’s appointment?
I undertook some further investigation from a purely statistical perspective to try and answer this question. It is important to note that only league data is considered.
In terms of a direct comparison, Liverpool won 37.5% of league games played under Rodgers this season and 41% under Klopp, although the German has now overseen four more games.
Despite this slight incline, the goal output of the side has actually risen only very slightly since the change in manager. Rodgers’ side scored an average of 1 per game, while Klopp’s apparently “more attacking” side is registering 1.1 per game.
Another marginal sign of improvement under Klopp is again evident in the goals against column. Rodgers was conceding an average of 1.25, whereas the number drops to 1.16 under Klopp. This is hardly a monumental shift, but in correlation with the attacking output it is definitely a change for the better.
To get a clearer picture of how things have changed since Klopp’s arrival it is appropriate to look at deeper metrics like chance creation, to see if there really has been an alteration in style.
Breaking it down into Great and Good Chances, we can actually see that Liverpool were more productive under Rodgers, creating on average 1.5 Great Chances and 2.6 Good Chances per game.
They did have some injury problems with strikers early in the season, so the poor conversion rate may be affected slightly by that. However, the same is also true for Klopp, who has arguably been hit harder with injury problems since taking charge. His side have averaged just 1.3 Great Chances and 2.4 Good Chances per game so far.
This points to Liverpool being a more efficient side under Klopp. They are winning more points by converting fewer chances, which signifies another minor improvement under the new manager.
This seems to be the main difference in output, because there is very little between the two managers in terms of chances conceded:
Under both managers the team has given away 1.5 Great Chances per game, although Rodgers saw his side afford opponents slightly more good chances at 1.8 per game. Unsurprisingly this correlates with the average goals per game conceded.
However, it is notable that Liverpool have conceded more goals than they have scored, despite both managers seeing their side create more chances than they concede, but is this down to poor attacking or poor defending?
Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that both are to blame.
Under Klopp, Liverpool average 4 shots on target per game, very marginally better than Rodgers’ 3.9 per game:
Once again this shows a slight improvement in shot conversion under Klopp, but it really is very minimal.
Defensively, Klopp sees his side give away just 2.5 efforts on goal per game, whereas under Rodgers 3.25 shots on target were being allowed.
Going back to the goals conceded, it means that Liverpool are conceding at a higher rate under Klopp than Rodgers, with opponents finding the net from just under half of their shots on target.
Liverpool are actually the third strongest team in the league when it comes to chance prevention, with only Arsenal and Tottenham giving away fewer opportunities per game. If they can somehow slow down the rate at which they concede goals from chances allowed, their outlook will greatly improve for the rest of the season.
So where does this leave Liverpool moving forward?
With just five teams having scored fewer goals than Liverpool their top four prospects do not look great, especially when all of those sides sit below them in the table. The fact that they have not conceded many compared to others in the Champions League race will give them hope, though.
Overall it seems that while there has been a very slight “Klopp effect” at Anfield, Liverpool’s metrics still make them an outside bet to achieve a return to Europe’s premier club competition this season.
However, it still looks as though the German will be a shrewd long-term appointment at Anfield. He has overseen a slight upward trend despite very limited playing resources. Some January incomings should help the new man continue this by putting more of his stamp on things.