STATS: Set-piece specialists? Joy for Chelsea, concern for Liverpool

Chelsea top the Premier League table, thanks in part to their prowess from set-pieces. Liverpool, on the other hand, have work to do in that area.

Set-pieces have taken on added importance in the modern game, both in an attacking sense and from a defensive point of view.

It is easy to see why, with dead-ball situations presenting an opportunity to hurt or be harmed.

That helps to explain why debates regarding men on the posts and zonal versus man-marking are now common place at training grounds and drinking establishments across the country.

Find the right approach, or players considered to be specialists in this area, and the rewards are bountiful.

Get it wrong and not only will you find the going tough in the final third, you are also likely to spring a few leaks at the back.

Liverpool are finding that out to their cost this season, with Brendan Rodgers’ side yet to score from a set-piece situation in the Premier League, while looking increasingly shaky when defending against them.

Swansea City are also yet to open their account for the campaign, along with top-flight strugglers Burnley and Leicester City.

At the opposite end of the scale, Chelsea’s standing at the summit has been aided considerably by their set-piece prowess.

  Goal Assist SetplayAppearances
Chelsea 6 16
Everton 5 16
West Brom 5 16
West Ham 5 16
C. Palace 4 16
Newcastle 3 16
QPR 3 16
Sunderland 3 16
Tottenham 3 16
Arsenal 2 16
Hull City 2 16
Man City 2 16
Aston Villa 1 16
Man Utd 1 16
Southampton 1 16
Stoke 1 16

Everton, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United will also be pleased with their set-piece return, while it may surprise many to find that Stoke City are no longer as prolific as they once were.

There is certainly work to be done for a number of other top sides, with Manchester City among those that would be expected to fare favourably in such a chart – given that they boast good delivery and men willing to attack anything fed into the box.

They are, however, missing out slightly at present, with Manuel Pellegrini one of many managers who will be looking for more ‘easy’ goals over the course of the campaign – with there only so long you can rely on free-flowing football to do the business.

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