Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge continue to score and score and score some more. The duo have scored twenty-five goals in the fifteen league matches they’ve appeared in together this season, with Arsenal the only team to shut out them both out, at the Emirates in November. The Reds have scored every twenty-eight minutes that both of the players have been on the pitch in the league this season; quite simply, they are a phenomenon.
Accusations regarding selfishness follow them around though, both pro and anti; Sturridge most notably could have played Suárez in for an almost certain goal during Liverpool’s 4-0 Merseyside derby win, and Suárez perhaps could have benefitted by being more single-minded in the Reds’ 3-0 victory over Southampton last time out.
But what’s the true picture? Does one snub the other too often? And how creative are they as a partnership?
By scoring with his first touch in the Reds’ 3-0 win at Southampton, Raheem Sterling bagged the seventh league goal by a Liverpool substitute since Brendan Rodgers took charge of the club in the summer of 2012.
I wasn’t sure if seven goals was a particularly decent contribution by Liverpool’s bench or not, and it turns out it isn’t, as the table below demonstrates.
I have written an analysis for The Tomkins Times which looks at which Liverpool players have been involved in the build up to goals this season, beyond the readily available goal and assist statistics.
Using data from the official Liverpool site (as pictured below, when all eleven players were involved in Raheem Sterling’s goal away at Tottenham), I have been able to record who has been involved the most often. There is a surprise near the top of the list…
It’s a free piece, so please have a read of it here.
I last wrote a Chance Quality preview ahead of Liverpool’s recent home match with Arsenal, because the two sides are the top two for overachieving on the number of assists they’ve had this season, and so I thought it was worth a closer look.
The Reds’ next match sees them face up with Southampton, who are currently ranked fourth, so I thought it was worth looking at the data again. The figures show that Liverpool are likely to face a stern test on the south coast.
Liverpool and Newcastle United played out what is widely regarded to be the greatest Premier League match of them all in 1996, with the Reds winning 4-3 thanks to a last-minute Stan Collymore goal.
The Reds’ latest frantic victory, which was also a 4-3 home win, lead to inevitable comparisons between the current Liverpool team and Kevin Keegan’s kamikaze Toon side of the mid-1990s. In his match report for The Times, Tony Barrett said:
This was the day when Liverpool stirred memories of Keegan’s Newcastle United by serving up a slew of reasons why their unlikely title challenge could yet be maintained and just as many why it may not…. Being great entertainers, à la Keegan’s Newcastle, will win Liverpool many admirers, but whether it will allow them to end a 24-year wait for a league title, or end up costing them the chance to do so, remains to be seen.
Of course, Barrett is mainly talking about the one match, so I’m not going to have a pop at him here, but he touched on a theme that does seem to be in the air at the moment yet is not actually that accurate.
It’s not that Liverpool aren’t entirely like Keegan’s Newcastle; they’re actually a more extreme version of those maverick Geordies.
It may have been two weeks ago now, but I can’t help thinking about the opening twenty minutes of the Reds’ monumental 5-1 victory over the then league leaders, Arsenal. It’s hard to recall a better twenty minutes that Liverpool have ever produced, to be honest.
As I had a spare couple of hours, I thought I’d pull together a few stats and graphics from that fantastic opening period.
I’m sure I’m not the only person in the Liverpool fanbase who can’t make up their mind at the moment.
My mental pendulum swings from ‘yes, Liverpool can win the league’ to ‘they’ll be lucky to make fourth’ on what feels like an hourly basis (though perhaps more accurately, as the team alternates between sizzling home performances and damp squib efforts on the road).
With twelve games to go, I thought I’d take a look at what history shows us we can perhaps expect to happen. Continue reading
As regular readers will be aware, one of my projects for 2013/14 has been to monitor the quality of chance (based on the area of the pitch that the key pass is received in) at both ends of the pitch for the twenty teams in the Premier League.
Having looked at the individual chance quality stats for the Liverpool squad recently, I thought it would be interesting to do likewise for the top five creative players in the Premier League this season, to see if the leader of the pack in volume terms also creates chances in the best quality areas too.
Howard Webb appeared to deny Luis Suárez a clear penalty in Liverpool’s FA Cup defeat to Arsenal on Sunday, much like he did when Liverpool lost at Chelsea over Christmas.
Needless to say, Twitter exploded in anger at Webb’s performance, and his negative impact upon the Reds.
A prominent Twitter account (@SG8Official_, who have over 70,000 followers) tweeted that Liverpool have now lost seven games in a row when Webb has been the ref, and needless to say this got countless retweets. I’m told the stat was quoted on TalkSport this morning too.
Except that this stat isn’t close to being accurate, as the Reds have only lost the last three with two victories prior to that, so I thought I’d take a closer look at Liverpool’s record with Howard Webb, to see what the true picture is.
At the thoroughly enjoyable Opta Pro Analytics Forum (a review of which is available on their site here), perhaps the most interesting presentation was given by Pedro Marques (Twitter), who is a First Team Match Analyst at Manchester City.
He gave amateurs like myself an insight into the type of analysis that the professional clubs carry out on opponents ahead of a forthcoming match. Perhaps the most surprising thing was that it didn’t look particularly advanced, or better than the work that many of the top fanalysts are currently producing (albeit with representatives from every other Premier League club there, I’d be amazed if he gave away all of their secrets). I wondered if I were capable of producing something similar?
I’ve been wanting to write a post on Simon Mignolet for a while, with a particular focus on his passing as this is where the pro-Reina camp say he doesn’t match up to the illustrious Spaniard.
As the Belgian stopper logged 100% passing accuracy in his last run out at Fulham, this seemed as good a time as any to have a closer look at his distribution data.
What a match at Craven Cottage! Time to round-up the key stats from the match and the season so far.
Paul Tomkins wrote an excellent free piece on this subject (which I recommend you read), which looked at various factors such as squad value, Brendan Rodgers’ lack of experience in such matters, and the need to have been close to the top in the preceding campaign.
However, having looked at aspects of Liverpool’s performance so far this season, it becomes abundantly clear to me why the wait for number nineteen will stretch on beyond this season.
I posted an image on Twitter earlier in the week, which showed how many assists each Premier League team has got this season against their expected assist rate from my Chance Quality system.
As the top two overachievers meet at Anfield on Saturday lunchtime, I thought it was worth taking a closer look at their figures to see if either side has an edge in any particular area of the pitch.
Posted in Arsenal, Brendan Rodgers, Chance Quality, Chances Created, Liverpool FC, Premier League, Statistical Analysis, Through Balls
Tagged Arsenal Chances Created, Assist Stats, Chance Quality, Liverpool Chances Created
Ahead of this week’s Opta Pro forum, which I am very much looking forward to attending, I thought it would be interesting to revisit one of my favourite previous articles (‘Better With The Ball? It’s Just A Shot Away’) which looked at the relationship between shots on target and success.
Has the trend that I discovered when looking at data from 2008/09 to 2012/13 continued this season, and what does this mean for Liverpool?
This Thursday sees the inaugural Opta Pro Analytics Forum, an event which will see lots of top football analysts meet up to share their work, and I have been fortunate enough to be invited to attend.
As chance would have it, whilst compiling data for my Chance Quality project earlier today, I noticed a curious anomaly that I had not come across before, and a request for clarification on Twitter lead to an eye-opening debate.
I wrote in the week how this match represented a golden opportunity for Liverpool to make a giant stride towards a top four finish. Unfortunately they were not able to maximise the potential of this fixture, and so I took a look at the Stats Zone info to see if there were any clues as to why.
This article was originally published on Wednesday 29th January, but I added an update after Saturday’s matches had been completed. Scroll to the end to see what difference those games have made.
Without wishing to get too far ahead of ourselves, after a fantastic 4-0 win over their Merseyside rivals Everton, Liverpool’s next match with West Bromwich Albion is quite simply huge.
I have read a number of analyses regarding how many points will be required for fourth place this season, and the consensus seems to be around seventy-five. Here is a table of how many points the teams who are chasing fourth require to hit that target.
After a fantastic performance by Liverpool at Anfield, I thought it was worth collating a few of the amazing statistics from a fabulous night.
I finally found time to listen to the podcast of Sky Sports’ debate on football analytics, from December last year. If you’re interested in such things, I thoroughly recommend it (link).
One of the contributors was Liverpool’s former director of football, Damien Comolli. His comments on the scouting of Jordan Henderson in 2011 particularly piqued my interest, as they made me wonder if my chance quality work might have given the Sunderland man’s impressive chance creation figures some important context.