Liverpool concluded their pre-season preparations for the 2012/13 campaign with a 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen at Anfield on Sunday. Whilst I missed the game myself, I saw some very interesting and encouraging post-match tweets from @AnfieldIndex:
LFC Vs Leverkusen Total Passes: Total: 613 Accurate: 549 Accuracy: 89.56%
Comparing the above stats with Liverpool’s figures from last season illustrates how much more of the ball they’re now having.
Their average number of passes attempted last season was 496 per game, and they completed 402 per game to give a passing accuracy of 80.9%. They only attempted more passes once (623 at home to Stoke City), and at no point completed as many as they did against Kop-legend Sami Hyypia’s Leverkusen. Indeed, Liverpool only attempted more than 549 passes on eight occasions in the league last season. More from Anfield Index:
Pepe Reina attempted 55 passes Vs Leverkusen. His highest last season was 40 Vs Villa (A). #OutfieldPlayer
Reina only averaged 22.9 passes per game last season, so his involvement more than doubled that against the German side. Over the past four seasons of league football, Reina has averaged a pass every 4.20 minutes, yet the Spaniard gave the ball to a team-mate every 1.64 minutes on Sunday. Hopefully a return to playing to Reina’s strengths will enable him to recover his form of a few seasons ago. How did Lucas fare in the latest friendly?
If @LucasLeiva87 managed the same amount of passes in the 2nd half he’d have achieved 92 passes. That would have been his highest @ #LFC
Lucas attempted 57.3 passes per game on average last season, with a top single-game total of 75. Interestingly, Xabi Alonso averaged 92 passes per match in 2008/09, in what was probably the finest midfield season by a Liverpool player in twenty years or more, and it seems that Rodgers’ tactics might enable Lucas to reach similar heights.
Although it’s important to remember that yesterday’s match was only a friendly, Levekusen finished fifth in the Bundesliga last season, so they’re clearly no slouches. In the last three matches, the Reds have won three times, increased their passing amount and accuracy massively on last season, and key players such as Borini, Gerrard, Lucas, Downing and Carroll have all got off the mark for the new look Liverpool. Interesting times ahead.