EPL

Klopp's penalty gripe: Is the Liverpool manager right to complain?

By Sports Desk January 05, 2021

Jurgen Klopp was, predictably, none too pleased after Liverpool lost 1-0 at Southampton on Monday.

Not only did the Premier League champions see a 12-game unbeaten run end, but they also gifted Manchester United the chance to go top of the table if the Red Devils win their game in hand.

Liverpool only managed one shot on target against Ralph Hasenhuttl's Saints after conceding a Danny Ings goal in the second minute, when a free-kick eluded Trent Alexander-Arnold and gave the former Reds striker the chance to score a fine lob.

Klopp admitted they should have done better with that set-piece, but he was further irritated in the second half when two penalty appeals were turned down, first for a tangle between Sadio Mane and Kyle Walker-Peters and then for a Georginio Wijnaldum shot that struck the arm of Jack Stephens.

"[The handball] looked like a clear penalty," Klopp said. "I turned to the fourth official, he said: 'We checked already, no penalty.'

"What [referee] Andre Marriner did with Sadio Mane tonight, I'm not sure that's okay, to be honest.

"I hear now that Manchester United had more penalties in two years than I had in five and a half years. I've no idea if that's my fault, or how that can happen."

It's quite the claim – but is it true?

PEN STATE

Under Klopp, Liverpool have been awarded 46 penalties in all competitions, including 30 in the Premier League (they've scored 39 of them, for good measure). In that same time frame, and under three different managers, United have won 67 and scored 54 penalties in all competitions.

What about the past two years? Well, 42 of those United penalties have come since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer became manager in December 2018, with 27 in the league. Liverpool have had just 19 spot-kicks in that time. Klopp, then, has a point.

If you combine the past two Premier League seasons, no team has had as many penalties as the Red Devils, who have won 20 and scored 15 of them. Next on the list is Leicester City (17 won, 13 scored) and then Manchester City (14 won, eight scored). Liverpool have won 10 in that time and scored every one.

Having half the number of their bitter rivals will doubtless be a source of frustration, but they should consider the feelings of Everton fans. The Toffees have had just three penalties in the past two seasons, the lowest of any side to be in the division across both campaigns.

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE

In 2019-20 in the Premier League, United won more penalties than anyone else (14 – three above nearest rivals Man City). That number was a record for a single season in the Premier League era. Liverpool won five.

The balance actually seems to be shifting a little in 2020-21, though. United are joint-second for Premier League penalties (six, level with Brighton and Hove Albion), but four behind Leicester, who won 10 spot-kicks in their first 16 games, a competition record.

Liverpool, for their part, are only one behind United on five. Had the Southampton game taken place in the first few weeks of the season, they may well have caught up with them through the Stephens incident: the earlier implementation of the handball rule led to seven such penalties being awarded in the first five matchdays of 2020-21.

Only five have been given since, and none since December 13 – when Fulham's Aboubakar Kamara was penalised against Liverpool.

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