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Ian Rush Concerned “Liverpool Haven’t Played Well” of Late

The ex-Red is worried about recent form but the underlying statistics suggest there’s no real cause for concern.

Liverpool FC v FC Internazionale: Round Of Sixteen Leg Two - UEFA Champions League Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Liverpool are on to the quarter-finals in the Champions League and FA Cup and not far removed from winning the League Cup for the ninth time in the club’s history, but for now all that matters is the league and keeping pace with Man City.

A pair of Premier League games, first against Brighton and then Arsenal, are next on the schedule for Jürgen Klopp’s quadruple-chasing Reds, but former Reds star striker Ian Rush says that he’s a little concerned by their form heading into it.

“Truth be told, Liverpool haven’t played well in their last three games, scraping past Norwich and West Ham and then losing to Inter,” Rush wrote in a column for this week. “They’ve been getting away with it.

“Whilst it’s true that the sign of a good team is winning after playing badly, the Inter game was a reminder that you can’t do it every time. They have some tough fixtures coming up with Brighton away a tricky one followed by a trip to Arsenal.

“What concerns me about Brighton away is that it’s an early kick-off. A lot of players aren’t fans of the early kick-offs as the whole routine is different. Nonetheless, it’s a game I expect Liverpool to win, but I don’t think it’ll be plain sailing.”

It’s an interesting example, perhaps, of how goals colour how one views performances. In both games against Inter, Liverpool had more possession and better chances—on aggregate creating at least 3 xG while Inter created around 0.7 xG.

In another of the Round of 16 Champions League ties, Manchester City created around 4 xG against Sporting Lisbon’s 0.7 xG. One more goal’s worth of chances, the same given up. As per 538, Sporting are Europe’s 28th best side. Inter are ninth.

On the actual performances, Liverpool’s against stronger opposition would seem to provide at least as much cause for positivity as City’s, yet the final scorelines—just 2-1 for the Reds vs. 5-0 for the Citizens—means that isn’t the case.

Liverpool’s finishing has run cool of late—the story was similar against Norwich and West Ham—but performances have been strong, and if the woodwork had been kinder everyone would now be talking about a dominant victory over Inter.

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