How do the two greats compare statistics-wise?
Despite United had to replace arguably the greatest manager in history of British football and Liverpool's Brendan Rodgers had got one more season in charge under his belt, there was next to no-one in the summer prending Liverpool to be eleven points clear 28 games into the season. Subsequently Liverpool obviously are superior in terms of the stat mattering the most - points - but what if we have a look at the more detailed numbers?
The Scousers are obviously better off in terms of finding the way into the back of the opponents' net, as they've scored three or more goals on 15 occasions this season, more than any other side. This goal bonanza lights up 2,61 averaged a game. Quite an insane number, particularly considering Sally and Anderson's studies displayed in «The Numbers Game - Why Everything You Know About Football is Wrong» revealed that a game in the top five leagues averages 2,66 goals, and that obviously include both scored and conceded ones. 30 miles further east, the Old Trafford faithful have seen their side struggle in front of goal, thus scoring only 1,64 times on average a game this season.
If you compare the numbers from the 2012/13 season, it turns out United have dropped from last season's tally 2,26, which has caused a significant blow to the Red Devils' title ambitions. On the other hand, Liveprool have improved from their 1,87 goals a game.
On the other side of the pitch, it (surprisingly?) turns out that Phil Jones & co have been of a better standard than Brendand Rodgers' various defending constellations. After 2520 minutes (both sides are on this number, 28 games), United have shipped 31 goals while Liverpool have seen their opponents celebrating on 35 occasions. This means United have been slightly better than their rivals in this respect, with 1,11 goals conceded a game. Liverpool's 35 equals 1,25 balls in behind Simon Mignolet per game. When it comes to clean sheets, United have kept ten, which is joint-sixth in the league prior to the weekend. Brendan Rodgers side has conceded goal(s) in two more games than David Moyes' outfit.
Despite the Northern Irish manager of Liverpool and his Scottish counterpart at United possesses quite different views on how football should be played, the stats are surprisingly similiar in terms of passing. United have averaged 477 passes a game, Liverpool exactly ten more. What might actually be surprising here is that Liverpool have dropped from last season's 513 passes, despite this season has paid off superiorly compared to that one. Apparently Mr Rodgers has understood that passing is important, but far from everything and passing it with a purpose is way better than just passing it around lethargically. United have, unsurprisingly, dropped from last season too, from last season's 508 passes played a game.
When it comes to passing accuracy, both sides have been relatively steady in both seasons: 84% all over the place except United's 86% in their title-winning campaign.
On the front foot
Measured by key passes and created chances, Liverpool's side of 12/13 is better than both their 13/4 self and United in both campaign; 13 key passes and 14 chances created a game, and yet they finished seventh! The numbers have dropped to 11 and 13 respectively. No doubt that their striking force has stepped up their game in terms of finishing.
However, the Reds' 11 key passes is still quite some distance above United's nine and they've created three more chances a game as well.
In terms of assists, Liverpool's 1,64 is narrowly better than United's 1,63 from last season. Wayne Rooney's fellows this season haven't even completed an assist a game, as the bottom line reads 0,96.
Please note that these two red-shirted sides have the two top assist-makers in the league, as both Rooney as Suárez have provided ten assists. Steven Gerrard is the third best, one notch off.
On the other half of the pitch, United are better than Liverpool in terms of interceptions and do less defensive errors. 17 interceptions a game is quite a remarkable stat, really, and Liverpool do four less a game. However the Scousers make more blocks during a game (3,29 vs 2,89).
The main concern for Liverpool is their defensive error abundance. Averagely the Kop see their heroes make 1,18 errors a game, where of 0,29 lead to goals. On the other hand, the Stretford Enders suffer only 0,54 such errors a game, which is better than the 0,63 of last season. The main concern for David Moyes is that half of United's defensive errors lead to excessive amounts of agony.
On an individual note, Jonny Evans (2) has made the most errors leading to goals for United. In Liverpool's squad we find two players (Kolo Toure, 2, and Simon Mignolet, 4) on level or worse terms. Only Norwich's goalkeeper John Ruddy has made as many errors leading to goals as Mignolet this season and no-one are worse in that respect.
So what can we expect from the scoring department in Sunday's clash of the two titans of English football? The title contenders have scored more goals from both inside and outside the box seperately, but the champions are quite close when it comes to headed goals. Robin van Persie and his teammates have scored with 0,39 headed efforts a game, which is only narrowly less than Luis Suárez' fellows' 0,39. Maybe the aerial capability added to the Scousers' error-prone defence will guide the way to three home points at the weekend?
(All stats are those of Squawka.com / @Squawka. The blog post is also available at TalkoftheDevils.com)