Liverpool have signed Valencia left-back Aly Cissokho on loan for 2013/14, and so I have taken a look at his statistics compared to those for his direct competitor for a first team berth, Jose Enrique.
From what I’ve seen, the twenty-five year old Frenchman could well walk straight into the Reds’ first team.
One of Liverpool’s main issues last season was a vulnerability in the air. Enrique did little to help here, winning just thirteen of his thirty-four aerial duels (38%).
By comparison, Cissokho won 72% of his duels in the air (thirty-four out of forty-seven), a percentage that no Red who contested more than seven could better last season. This, for me, is his main selling point. A comparison to the top aerial performers in the 2012/13 Premier League illustrates just how good the Anfield new boy is:
Jose Enrique made two Opta recorded errors, one of which proved particularly costly as it lead to a goal against in a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park. Cissokho did not make a single one last season, which can only benefit Liverpool if he can repeat the feat.
The Valencia man also betters Enrique at one of the Spaniard’s major selling points: not being dribbled past by opponents.
Whilst Jose was beaten just nine times in 2012/13 (or 0.3 times per game), Cissokho topped that by being dribbled past on just four occasions (0.2 per game).
Inevitably though, not all of the stats go in Cissokho’s favour.
Enrique offered more creatively, with 0.9 key passes per game to Cissokho’s 0.6 (and my last blog post looked at potential creative difficulties for Liverpool this season), and based on the below chance creation pitch maps from Squawka, the former Valencia man’s brand of creativity may not fit in at Anfield.
You can see from the above maps that Cissokho is primarily a touchline hugging crosser (and he averaged 0.8 crosses per game compared to Jose’s 0.2), whilst Enrique gets around the pitch more, though some of this will have been when he played in midfield, in fairness.
Nothing wrong with that as such from Aly’s perspective, but Liverpool no longer employ a target man for the new boy to aim at, so his crossing skills may be of little benefit.
Although the Frenchman had a marginally better passing accuracy (79% to 76%), Enrique did attempt virtually twice as many (forty-five per game compared to twenty-three), so there would be a question mark over whether or not Cissokho can fit seamlessly into Brendan Rodgers’ heavy-passing side.
But in terms of defending, Liverpool need to make fewer errors and compete more strongly in the air, and so for those reasons I could easily see Cissokho lining up a left back sooner rather than later.
Diego Costa: Hot Shot – The Liverpool target’s record in front of goal is mightily impressive.
Alessandro Matri: Liverpool Bound? – No idea, but his stats suggest the Reds should at least be interested.
Hold Your Nerve (Now and Next Season) – Some thoughts on Liverpool’s transfer activity so far in summer 2013.
Mkhitaryan vs Eriksen: Champions League Showdown – Two supposed transfer targets for the Reds, but who has performed better in Europe’s top club competition?