Paul Tomkins has put together an anthology of the best writing from his excellent website, The Tomkins Times, and the blurb is:
These Turbulent Times gathers together the best articles to appear on our award-winning website since its inception in 2009, covering all aspects of Liverpool FC’s fortunes in that time. The analysis encompasses a wide range of styles and approaches, including: straight opinion pieces; historical reporting on major events; in-depth tactical reviews; professional data analysis on a number of statistical issues; legal issues courtesy of a prominent football lawyer; and exclusive interviews with key personnel at the club. It includes many pieces that have only previously appeared behind the site’s paywall.
The book features a previously unpublished essay by myself, so why not buy a copy, eh?! It’s currently available for pre-order from Amazon, and the price is currently just £5.80. My excellent look at shots on target data aside (!), I can genuinely recommend the book, as it will feature the cream of the crop from the best Liverpool FC website around. Cheers.
I recently wrote an article looking at which goalkeepers may be suitable to replace Pepe Reina if he were to leave (read more here). Using a simple analysis of short passing accuracy and save percentage, the suggestion was that Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet would not be up to the task.
However, as the transfer talk intensifies that the Belgian stopper will be heading to Liverpool, I thought I’d dig a little deeper to see if anything else suggests he could adequately replace the Reds’ Spanish custodian. Or, dare I say it, actually prove to be better.
After a few weeks of speculation, Liverpool have officially announced that a deal to sign Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas has been agreed in principle.
I’ve taken a brief look at his shooting stats and creativity figures, and appears that (if the transfer fee of around £7.7m is correct) the Reds may have bagged themselves a bit of a bargain.
Jonjo Shelvey had a very impressive shooting accuracy of 56% this season, the joint 16th best in the Premier League (for players attempting twenty-five shots or more), and comfortably above the total divisional average of 33.2%.
Yet he only scored one goal (away at West Ham United), and even that was only given to him after the infamous Dubious Goals Panel decided that it was not an own goal as it was originally deemed. As WhoScored recently tweeted:
Jonjo Shelvey: Had a conversion rate of 2.9% this season – better than only 7 of the Premier League’s 257 goalscorers in 2012/13
Shouldn’t he have scored more with such a good level of shooting accuracy? He took 59% of his shots in the box, so it wasn’t entirely a case of wasting his time with pot shots from distance. It turns out our old friend ‘shot placement‘ helps to explain where he was going wrong.
Back in March, I wrote an article which investigated a new statistic I had devised: final third efficiency (and you can read the original piece here). In case you missed it, FTE is calculated as follows:
By dividing accurate final third passes (FTC) by shots on target (SoT), you can create a final third efficiency (FTE) figure for both teams, to see which team made the most of the ball up front.
I then subtract Liverpool’s score from their opponent’s to give them a FTE Difference for each match. The previous article had the data for the 68 matches from last season and this upto-and-including Southampton away; I have now added the remainder of this season as well as the available matches from 2010/11, giving an enlarged dataset of 102 games.
Now that 2012/13 is complete and the dust has settled, it’s time to try to assess exactly where Liverpool went right and wrong.
For a gentle introduction, I’ve used the info on statto.com to see how the Reds did in relation to both this seasons top six, and their own previous form in the Premier League, with regards to runs of good and bad results, clean sheets, and finding the back of the net. As with virtually everything associated with Liverpool FC this season, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
A well-worn statistic that I often sprinkle liberally on here is that only one in forty-four open play shots from outside in the penalty box results in a goal. The vast majority of them are little more than ‘hit and hope’ efforts, in other words.
It’s all about being in the penalty box yourself, and keeping your opponents out, as a much healthier one in seven shots (excluding penalties) from within the goal area finds the back of the net.
Using data from WhoScored, I have been able to compile these figures for Europe’s top five leagues to create a ‘shots in the box difference’ (SIBD) metric. The good news for Brendan Rodgers is that Liverpool have performed exceptionally well at both ends of the pitch in this regard this season.
In March 2012, I wrote this article which looked at Liverpool’s unfortunate knack of frequently hitting the woodwork last season, and indeed by the end of 2011/12 they had set a new Premier League record for hitting the goal frame, after racking up 33 of the very closest of misses.
I hadn’t thought much of that record, until I saw this picture from Optajoe, which illustrated just how costly finding the woodwork had been for Liverpool this season.
For the first time in four seasons, Liverpool finished a league campaign with more points than the season before.
I’ll write an in depth review of the season in due course, but for now I thought it was worth highlighting that the Reds have improved in the league by a greater proportion than any other side.
I have written an appreciation of Jamie Carragher for The Tomkins Times, and it is a free read to all (whereas TTT is mostly a subscription site) so head over there and have a read of it here.
Earlier in the season, I wrote an article looking at how unfairly referees had been treating Liverpool. Although the league campaign was only six games old, Brendan Rodgers had already felt compelled to mention in an interview how the Reds were not getting the rub of the green from officials, and that prompted my earlier investigation.
The bad news is, it is still not any better, and at the business end of the season, the cost of the errors by refs is looking increasingly expensive.
Liverpool’s defence will need some major reconstruction during the summer; Jamie Carragher is retiring, and both Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates appear to be decidedly out of favour.
If you believe what you read, then Ashley Williams of Brendan Rodgers’ former club Swansea City is the primary target, and looking at his stats on WhoScored, it’s easy to see why.
The Welsh international is ranked sixth in the Premier League for interceptions per game, fourth for clearances per game, and top for blocked shots per game; in many ways, he’s exactly what Liverpool are looking for.
But he wouldn’t be cheap; the Swans trousered £15m when Joe Allen moved to Anfield last season, and no doubt the Capital One Cup holders would look for a similar amount for Williams. I have therefore looked at the defensive stats for Europe’s big five leagues on WhoScored to try to find the Reds a bargain.
As rumours continue to circulate that Pepe Reina might be leaving Liverpool, I thought I’d look at the form of potential replacements who I have seen rumoured could be signing for the Reds (with the obvious priviso that some of the deals will probably have a cat-in-hell’s chance of actually happening!). I’ve also included Brad Jones, as he signed a new contract this season and so will presumably remain with the Reds in 2013/14.
After a fairly dour derby stalemate at Anfield, it has proven difficult to find much of interest to write about, and I do like to try to assess as many Liverpool games as I can.
Whilst the Reds now have six clean sheets in their last ten games (tick), their failure to score meant they had their third 0-0 in the last five matches (cross). There was only five shots on target in total, so it isn’t much of a shock that both teams drew a blank.
So I thought I’d look at which team dominated the percentage of shots in the box as the match progressed. Long-term this will require further investigation (perhaps in the quieter summer months!) to see how relevant it is, but when I compiled the figures it appeared to illustrate the flow of the game pretty well.
I know what you’re thinking; why on earth would anybody compare two teams over a fifty-one game period?
Fear not, there is method in my madness. Ahead of the Merseyside derby on Sunday, Liverpool have played fifty-one games in all competitions this season. This just so happens to be the total number of matches they completed in 2011/12. So how do the records compare?
Back in February, I wrote an article that looked at how Liverpool’s creativity level had increased once Daniel Sturridge had started playing for them (and you can read it here). Now that Philipe Coutinho has his feet firmly under the Anfield table, the figures show that the Reds have kicked on again in creative terms.
Not only that, but the twenty year old Brazilian from Inter Milan is also outperforming the Premier League’s great-and-good with regards to the creation of clear-cut goalscoring opportunities on an individual level.
Whenever the Reds have a big win I like to summarise the key statistics, and their emphatic victory at St James Park is no exception!
As a statto whose tactical knowledge is rather limited, I find the task of trying to assess which manager in a match had the better of the tactical war a fascinating subject.
I will always rely on the key match numbers to try to determine who dominated a game irrespective of the result, but who do you award the tactical match up to, when such things come down to opinion rather than fact?
Now that Luis Suárez’ season is almost certainly over, and the world and his wife are lining up to denounce him from all angles, I thought I’d take a look at how he has improved statistically this season.
The headline statistic is twenty-three league goals scored instead of eleven, and thirty goals in all competitions, to become only the second Liverpool player (after Fernando Torres in his debut season) to reach the mark since Robbie Fowler did so in 1995/96.
But how exactly has Suárez doubled his goalscoring productivity in the league in only a few extra games?
Prior to last weekend’s fixtures, I saw a tweet from WhoScored, which stated:
Liverpool: Have had more shots (611) than any other team in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season, ahead of Real Madrid (582) & Juventus (577)
Sounds impressive, no? Over one hundred retweets at the time of writing certainly suggests so. But as the Reds laboured to a 0-0 draw away at Reading, the Premier League’s current worst club, it became clear that shots alone are not enough.