Despite Liverpool registering their joint-second best goal tally for the Premier League era in 2012/13 with seventy-one, Brendan Rodgers has targeted a further twenty goals next season.
Just two sides in the last ten seasons have scored ninety-one goals, so it probably isn’t a realistic target in truth, but if the Reds are to get close then they will need to create a hell of a lot of clear-cut chances (or ‘CCCs’ for short).
Opta define such opportunities as “A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range”, and I have compiled the figures (via EPLIndex) for the big six teams for the previous three seasons to try to establish where Liverpool need to improve in order to make Brendan Rodgers’ goalscoring dream a reality.
The first thing to note is that the Reds had more CCCs last season (101) than in the previous two seasons, and slightly more than the average of the five other top sides for this period (96). They also convert the top quality chances at a similar level to the average too. So far, so good.
The main issue here is that the Reds are too reliant upon CCCs in order to score their goals.
Perhaps it’s a result of only generally having one top class striker throughout this period (which started with Torres and ended with Suárez) whereas the other sides have tended to have more, but the Reds need to score more ordinary goals, rather than relying on the top notch chances.
Of course, if they could create even more CCCs then that’s obviously no bad thing, and despite posting their best figure in 2012/13, Liverpool were still twenty-four short of the big six record, which Arsenal set with 125 in 2010/11.
With Coutinho (who created a CCC more regularly than any other player in the 2012/13 top flight) in the side for a full season, there’s every chance the Reds could fashion more CCCs, but in reality they need to take a greater proportion of their regular chances in order to add more to their ‘for’ column.
There are two other issues facing Brendan Rodgers and co. with regards to CCCs ahead of the new campaign:
- Can they maintain the proportion of their CCCs that they create themselves?; and
- Can they increase the proportion of their chances that are clear-cut?
The CCC’s that are ‘created directly’ (to use the term I chose for the above table) are the ones that a team can manufacture themselves via clever passing, through balls and generally outwitting the opposition.
But there are others: deflected shots, parries by goalkeepers and rebounds from the woodwork are all examples of how a player can be presented with a CCC when no teammate has passed directly to him. Whilst these are equally as valuable, a team has lessinfluence over how many of these are created.
It is therefore important to have a ‘directly created’ percentage as high as you can, as this demonstrates that you have been creative yourself rather than relying upon lady luck or gifts from the opposition.
You can see from the above table that Liverpool excelled at this in 2012/13, especially compared to their own record in the preceding two seasons, but also compared to the average.
The Reds posted the third best proportion of the eighteen team seasons included here, and for the record it is once again Arsenal who lead the way, though this time from the last campaign as opposed to 2010/11.
Whether or not Liverpool can sustain this is obviously not currently known, but chances are they will have to in order to created enough of the top quality opportunities that Sturridge et al will need to fire the Reds into the Champions League.
The second issue I mentioned above is worth consideration too; can the Reds increase the proportion of chances that are clear-cut?
It’s no surprise to see that Liverpool created so many chances; they did have more shots than any other side in Europe’s big five leagues this season, after all.
But perhaps this shows that Reds’ players might be better served by being more patient, and not shooting as soon as a colleague passes to them (thus creating a chance) when they have less chance of scoring.
Look at Manchester United this season (if we must): 21.2% of their chances were clear-cut (which is the record for the teams in this study), and that enabled them to score 52 clear-cut goals and power their way to the Premier League title.
Purely hypothetically, if Brendan Rodgers’ team had amassed a clear-cut chance proportion of 21.2%, and maintained their conversion ratio, then they’d have bagged an extra fourteen goals, and increased their scoring total by 20%. This certainly shows the importance of CCCs compared to regular chances.
In short, Liverpool made progress on this front in 2012/13, so can be pleased about that, but further improvement is required if they are to score more goals next season.
My next post will focus on the defensive CCC statistics, to see how the Reds fared against their main rivals on that front.
Related articles you might enjoy:
Coutinho: The Lowdown – A look at the new boy’s career stats so far.
The Creative Impact Of Sturridge – The new signing has already boosted Liverpool’s creativity, have a read to find out how much!
The Creative Impact Of Coutinho – Thought Sturridge had made a difference? He’s got nothing on Phil!
Liverpool’s Problems Are Clear Cut – An investigation into the quality of chance that the Reds create.