As news breaks of yet another Daniel Sturridge injury, I thought I’d move this back to the home page. The figures are now a little out of date, but you’ll get the basic idea…. why did Liverpool think they could rely on only one top level (but very injury-prone) striker for the whole season?
Prior to signing Mario Balotelli, Liverpool were in desperate need of a new striker. Why? Because Daniel Sturridge is injury prone and will inevitably miss a sizeable chunk of the 2014/15 campaign at some point.
Or will he? I’ve looked at the injury stats on the physioroom website to try to put into context how often he (and the rest of Liverpool’s squad, where possible) pick up knocks, niggles and strains.
Rumour and counter-rumour are always the order of the day on Twitter, but the latest one to actually catch my interest is the talk that Liverpool might pay Lille an additional fee in order to bring Divock Origi to Anfield in January, rather than in the summer as was originally agreed. But should they; how is he performing in Ligue 1, and how does that compare to the strikers already on Liverpool’s books?
As various news outlets are reporting that Liverpool have agreed a £3m deal to sign Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa in January, I thought I’d take a look at his numbers to see how he fares compared to keepers in the Premier League.
After Lucas Leiva made a very impressive eight tackles, four interceptions and twelve ball recoveries in Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Leicester City, there was lots of online chatter from Kopites suggesting that the Brazilian might finally be returning to something like his best form, which occurred prior to his anterior cruciate ligament injury in 2011.
Tweets like this one were soon doing the rounds after the match:
I’m always wary of reading too much into with/without stats, as there are so many other factors to consider, and the above tweet only covers this season so is a very small sample. Looking at Liverpool’s league form since 2009/10 though, it’s impossible to deny that the team has performed a lot better on the whole when Lucas has played.
As Liverpool slumped to a 3-1 defeat at Selhurst Park on Sunday, they racked up their fourth away defeat of the season, and sixth in total, with both of these loss figures matching their total for the whole of 2013/14.
Once Crystal Palace had equalised, it should’ve come as little surprise that they scored again before the end of the match; conceding two-or-more goals on the road has been a trademark of the Brendan Rodgers era at Liverpool.
When I was recently updating my creativity combination info (which you can see here), it really hit home to me just how poor Liverpool have been in creative terms this season, and particularly so recently.
It’s hard to know what to say on here though without endlessly repeating myself. The three issues I thought might cause the Reds problems this season, which I wrote about at length here (fewer set piece goals and big chances than last season, and Balotelli being a poor finisher), have basically bogged Liverpool down from day one.
The big chance issue is frankly terrifying right now though, as it illustrates just how poorly Liverpool are doing in attacking terms at the moment.
With just one goal to show for their efforts across their last five league and European games (and it was a heavily deflected goal at that, as we can see below), it’s clear that Liverpool’s attack isn’t working as it should right now.
An unusual stat which may in part illustrate why this is caught my eye after the Reds’ defeats to both Newcastle and Chelsea, so I thought I’d investigate it further.
Although Newcastle’s winning goal didn’t occur for a further twenty seconds, the Magpies regained possession and began the move that lead to it following a blocked Glen Johnson shot from outside of the penalty box.
Ah, a blocked Glen Johnson shot from outside of the penalty box. If you’re a Liverpool fan, you can picture it perfectly in your mind; Johnson receives the ball in a wide area, cuts inside, and then shoots wastefully. Rinse and repeat, ad naseum.
Or is that actually the case? If you regularly read my work you’ll know that I like to investigate perceived wisdom, and Glen Johnson is the latest to receive the in-depth Bass Tuned To Red treatment.
I can’t claim to have watched any of Luis Alberto’s games for Malaga this season, but it was disappointing to see the following tweet:
Not least as I was under the impression that he was actually doing pretty well, thanks to this radar tweet:
Having not seen the matches, I can’t provide a definitive answer to this difference of opinions, but I thought I’d take a closer look at the numbers in the above radar to see what they say to me about Alberto’s performance so far this season.
There seems to be consensus online that both Mario Balotelli and the Liverpool team as a whole perform better when the £16m Italian international is partnered by another striker; ideally with Daniel Sturridge (as we saw at White Hart Lane), but also when alongside Rickie Lambert or Fabio Borini.
Whilst it is hard to quantify this performance improvement, I thought I’d take a quick look at Balotelli’s impact in the opposition penalty box when he has played alone compared to when he has had a strike partner.
In a recent piece I wrote on Liverpool’s predictable problems (see here), one of the issues I highlighted was that the Reds were highly unlikely to match last season’s record haul of twenty-six league goals from set pieces. As the following tweets illustrate, it seems that there is a widespread perception that Brendan Rodgers’ men are particularly struggling with their corners this season:
Are these opinions justified, or are things not as straightforward? I’ve taken a closer look.
Liverpool have not made a flying start in 2014/15, yet I don’t believe that things have been quite as bad as they have been portrayed.
One of the key things that I monitor is expected assists, which as you may know by now is based upon where on the pitch chances are created, and the likelihood that those opportunities will be scored. Using this metric, the Reds appear to be in fine fettle.
Last season I hit upon an idea: a creativity combination heatmap (which you can see here). It shows which players have linked up to create goalscoring opportunities most often, and how creative players have been overall.
Well, it’s back for 2014/15, except with a few enhancements…
There’s been a lot of online chatter about how Liverpool seem to be crossing a lot more this season than they did in 2013/14, and perhaps this is down to the Reds’ new recruits at full back, who appear to favour a cross as their method of attack.
The basic stats suggest there has been little difference in Liverpool’s crossing rate in the league; seventeen crosses per game last season has become twenty-one in this campaign. I thought I’d therefore have a quick look at the new Spaniards’ crossing rates both for Liverpool and before they joined. This is definitely an article that raises more questions than it answers.
As Liverpool slumped to their third league defeat in five games, I couldn’t help but notice that three things I had identified as possible concerns regarding the Reds in recent months all seem to be coming to pass at once.
This isn’t a ‘Ha, told you so!’ exercise, but I thought it would be worth re-iterating the points as they seem to lie at the heart of Liverpool’s troubles at the moment, and I’ve tried to look a little deeper to the cause of the issues too. Continue reading
Posted in Brendan Rodgers, Chances Created, Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool FC, Luis Suárez, Mario Balotelli, Premier League, Set Pieces, Shooting Accuracy, Statistical Analysis
Tagged Liverpool big chance stats, Liverpool Set Piece Stats, Mario Balotelli Finishing
As I’m compiling stats throughout this season for use in the Anfield Index Analytics podcast, I figured it’d make sense to use them to write match previews too. With only three games played, it’d be wrong to read too much into the numbers, but equally I think they show that Aston Villa haven’t been playing that well, despite being unbeaten and currently sitting third in the fledgling 2014/15 Premier League.
In the first episode of the Anfield Index Analytics podcast (which I took part in, and you can listen to here), I mentioned that Liverpool have recently had a phenomenal record when starting matches with a diamond in midfield: seven wins and one draw from eight matches.
I was even more intrigued in the formation’s possibilities when I saw this tweet on Monday:
On the same day as the above tweet, England triumphed 2-0 in Switzerland by employing a diamond formation too, so it definitely seems to be the strategy du jour right now.
When Danny Welbeck made his slightly surprising move from Manchester United to Arsenal on transfer deadline day, I noted that there were several parallels with Liverpool’s new signing, Mario Balotelli.
Both born in 1990, the two strikers each moved for a fee of £16m to teams of broadly similar standard. The obvious question to consider is therefore which of the two will score the most goals this season?
There are very few players who divide opinion as much as him. Capable of moments of madness and brilliance from minute-to-minute, his ability to entertain, infuriate and court controversy are largely unrivalled.
But enough about Luis Suárez. Liverpool need to move on from the Uruguayan and secure a replacement striker. What do the stats tell us that Balotelli can bring to Anfield?
There was a lot of online bemusement regarding the selection of Lucas Leiva to face Southampton in the opening match of the season on Sunday, so I thought I’d take a quick look at his stats to see how he performed and what the trends are, particularly with regards to his tackling.