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Rafa report vs. top sides in the Premiership

There was optimism and in some cases much expectancy among Liverpool fans, some neutrals and the media that 2006/7 would see Liverpool challenging for the Premiership. It hasn’t quite worked that way, too many early away defeats to teams like Chelsea, Man Utd, Bolton and Everton left Liverpool playing catch up from a very early stage. Goals have again been a struggle with the elusive ‘20 goal a season striker’ still to be found. Liverpool badly need someone of Owen's class and with his predatory instinct.

If Liverpool are to make a serious title challenge next season they need to improve on a key area – results against the big boys. If Liverpool and Chelsea both make the semi final clash in this season's Champions League, Liverpool will have played their three main rivals (in terms of competing for league places) THIRTY times in just three seasons under Rafael Benitez. Below is the analysis of results against these teams

Rafa’s results against Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal

06/07 P9 W3 D0 L6 F12 A18 (Blanks 4, Clean Sheets 1)

05/06 P10 W3 D3 L4 F6 A10 (Blanks 5, Clean Sheets 5)

04/05 P9 W2 D1 L6 F12 A4 (Blanks 4, Clean Sheets 2)

Overall P28 W8 D4 L16 F25 A40 (Blanks 13, Clean Sheets 8)

In among those results are some crucial ones including a two-legged win in the Champions League over Chelsea in 2004/5 leading to the European Cup triumph in Istanbul. Two victories over Chelsea and Man Utd last season saw Liverpool win the FA Cup. Other victories have been all too few though with just one league win against Chelsea in twelve matches against Man Utd and Chelsea combined.

Head to head

Man Utd P7 W1 D1 L5 F2 A7 (Blanks 5, Clean Sheets 2)

Chelsea P13 W4 D3 L6 F10 A14 (Blanks 7, Clean Sheets 5)

Arsenal P8 W3 D0 L5 F13 A19 (Blanks 1, Clean Sheets 1)

There are an average of four goals a game in matches against Arsenal, against Man Utd and Chelsea the average is under two.

Competitions

Premiership P18 W4 D1 L13 F13 A26 (Blanks 10, Clean Sheets 3)

Domestic Cup P6 W3 D0 L3 F11 A14 (Blanks 0, Clean Sheets 1)

Champions League P4 W1 D3 L0 F1 A0 (Blanks 3, Clean Sheets 4)

The Premiership record is not good at all, three of those wins coming at home against Arsenal and one against Chelsea. It is bad enough to be losing four games a season in these important matches but to have drawn 10 blanks in 18 games is very poor indeed and needs to be rectified in the Summer. If in an average season Liverpool pick up just 3-4 points out of a possible 18 in these ‘top of the table clashes’ then Liverpool will struggle to make up this lost ground on their rivals.

Home & Away

Home P14 W6 D2 L6 F16 A18 (Blanks 5, Clean Sheets 6)

Away P12 W1 D2 L9 F5 A18 (Blanks 8, Clean Sheets 2)

Neutral* P2 W1 D0 L1 F4 A4 (Blanks 0, Clean Sheets 0)

*Community Shield and Carling Cup Final

Liverpool’s away record against the main rivals under Rafa is very poor, just one win in the FA Cup, a couple of goalless draws in the Champions League and 9 straight league defeats. This also highlights the lack of goals with just 5 scored in 12 away games including 8 blanks. The home record isn’t bad but still needs improvement.

So, to the crux of the matter – how does Rafa fare in the head to head Premiership table. Has there been any progress?

2006/7PWDLFAPTS BlanksCS

Arsenal

5

3

1

1

8

6

10

 

0

2

Man Utd

5

2

1

2

5

4

7

 

1

2

Liverpool

6

2

0

4

6

8

6

 

4

1

Chelsea

4

1

2

1

3

4

5

 

1

1

 
 
2005/6PWDLFAPTS BlanksCS

Chelsea

6

5

0

1

12

2

15

 

1

4

Man Utd

6

3

2

1

4

3

11

 

3

5

Liverpool

6

1

1

4

3

9

4

 

3

2

Arsenal

6

1

1

4

2

7

4

 

5

1

 
 
2004/5PWDLFAPTS BlanksCS

Chelsea

6

4

2

0

8

3

14

 

1

4

Man Utd

6

4

0

2

10

7

12

 

1

2

Arsenal

6

1

2

3

8

11

5

 

2

1

Liverpool

6

1

0

5

4

9

3

 

3

0

 
 
04/05 - 06/07PWDLFAPTS BlanksCS

Chelsea

16

10

4

2

23

9

34

 

3

9

Man Utd

17

9

3

5

19

14

30

 

5

9

Arsenal

17

5

4

8

18

24

19

 

7

4

Liverpool

18

4

1

13

13

26

13

 

10

3

*CS = Clean Sheets

Liverpool are far behind the top two and not still showing enough progress. The rest still have a game or two to play against each other this season, this will probably leave Liverpol bottom of this mini league.  To turn around such deficits will take some doing, it was hoped the gap between 1st, 2nd and 3rd would be much less this season and the title race much less of a two horse race. Considering the much reported spending of Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, Chelsea don't have much of an advantage over Man Utd although they are the only other Premiership team who can field a £100m+ XI.

Premiership results under Rafael Benitez (07/04/07)

Home P54 W39 D10 L5 F96 A28 (Pts/Game 2.35)
Away P54 W21 D10 L23 F63 A60 (Pts/Game 1.32)
Overall P108 W60 D20 L28 F159 A88 (Pts/Game 1.84)

There is a marked difference between home and away results - title contenders at home, mid table mediocrity away. While away form has improved as the season has gone on, that’s mainly because Liverpool had already played the toughest away fixtures and come away with nothing but defeats. The head to head table does not show that each and every away game against rivals for Liverpool under Rafa has ended in defeat.

If the reports of a £40m transfer fund for next season are to be believed then Rafa has to buy new strikers and start turning some good performances against the top sides into points. Rafa needs to secure 3rd place this season and then next season get the team scoring goals, improve on away results and produce better results against the top sides. Liverpool don’t want to end up a good cup side, Rafa’s European Cup and FA Cup triumphs were excellent and are much appreciated, another win in Europe this season would be fantastic, but the league title has been the holy grail for too long now.

Copyright - Alex for LFChistory.net

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