Premier League

Paying the penalty – Are Liverpool suffering from spot-kick shortage?

Jurgen Klopp has railed against the lack of penalties awarded to his Liverpool side compared to rivals Manchester United – but does he have a point?

Klopp was angry that Sadio Mane was denied a penalty in Monday night’s loss to Southampton, and said: “I hear now that Man United had more penalties in two years than I had in five and a half years.”

Here, the PA news agency analyses the two sides’ recent penalty records.

On the spot

Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes takes a penalty against Tottenham
Manchester United and Bruno Fernandes have had plenty of opportunities from the spot (Carl Recine/PA)

While Klopp’s claim is not strictly accurate, the German is only slightly exaggerating.

Liverpool have been awarded 30 penalties since he took charge in October 2015, five years and three months ago.

United have had 32 since the start of 2018-19, almost two-and-a-half seasons, so his complaint holds at least some water.

In all, United have had 41 penalties since Klopp’s arrival on Merseyside, 11 more than Liverpool, with the two teams ranking third and fifth respectively in that time among all Premier League clubs.

Premier League penalties awarded since Jurgen Klopp's appointment at Liverpool
Liverpool trail Manchester United in penalty awards since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival (PA graphic)

Leicester lead the way with 45 to Manchester City’s 43, while Crystal Palace’s total of 36 splits United and Liverpool.

United also had double figures in each of the last two seasons – 14 last term and 12 in 2018-19 – while only the Foxes have had more than their six this season.

Liverpool are only one behind their rivals with five this season – but that already matches last season’s total, while they had seven in the previous campaign.

Penalty points

Mohamed Salah scores a penalty against Leeds
Mohamed Salah’s penalties have been crucial to Liverpool, never more so than in their season-opening win over Leeds (Phil Noble/PA)

One thing undermining Klopp’s argument is the effect of penalties on this season’s league table.

His reigning champions lead the way again, ahead of United on goal difference having played a game more, but have been major beneficiaries of spot-kick decisions. If goals scored from penalties were removed, Liverpool would fall to sixth place – five points worse off.

They beat Leeds 4-3 with the help of two Mohamed Salah spot-kicks and West Ham 2-1 with another, though Pascal Gross’ late penalty denied them victory over Brighton. Salah’s goals in the 1-1 draws at Manchester City and Fulham also came from the spot.

City would actually jump to the top of that hypothetical table, with United remaining second but losing three points. The Reds would also fall behind Tottenham, Southampton and Leicester, despite the latter having scored eight penalties this season from a remarkable 10 attempts.

James Milner, left, celebrates a successful penalty against Leicester
James Milner, left, has also been prolific from the spot (Peter Byrne/PA)

Liverpool’s consistency in scoring the penalties they are awarded means those incidents play a significant part in their points total. They have scored 28 of the 30 awarded under Klopp and each of their last 18, with Salah and James Milner both reliable.

United have scored 12 of their last 13, thanks to Bruno Fernandes and back-up taker Marcus Rashford, but only 30 out of 41 since Klopp came to the Premier League – partly due to a run of one successful conversion from five by Rashford, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial in 2019.

Related Articles

Back to top button