They say that defense wins championships. That may be true this season as defense is one of the critical differences between Liverpool and Man City.
Last season, Pep’s charges gave up only 23 goals and had a xGA of 25.73, which was second and first in the Premier League. Liverpool gave up the least amount of goals with 22, and their xGA was second best.
Both clubs had favorable defensive goal conversion rates. City was at +2.73 and Liverpool was at +7.15. This season, Klopp‘s charges in red have played better defensively. Their xGA is 28.69 and have allowed a league-low of 21 goals. However, Manchester City’s xGA rose to 27.87, and they have given up 31 goals.
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A greater gap has been created between the club’s abilities to stop their foes from hitting the back of the net. LFC improved their defensive goal conversion rate to +7.69; meanwhile, City fell to -3.13.
In other words, Liverpool maintained an excellent defense that prevented their opponents from getting substantial goal opportunities and also getting goals. Man City’s defense has given up more opportunities and, even worse, has conceded far easier from those chances.
The only other area where the two clubs are noticeably different, statistically, on the defensive side of the ball is in goaltending. Liverpool’s Alisson has the best save percentage in the Premier League at 80.4%, while Ederson had a rate of 69%.
It should be noted that Ederson also faced tougher shots. The xG per shot on target (xG/SoT) against him was 0.31, while Alisson has faced an xG/SoT of 0.28. The gap between the two rivals in the defensive rating over ten goals, over two-thirds of a season is significant. It can make the difference between winning all three points and settling for just one.