I was delighted to be asked to take part in the first ever Anfield Index podcast this week (which you can listen to here), so I put some effort in and researched some stats on how Everton have swiftly evolved since Roberto Martinez took over from David Moyes in the summer, to use on the show.
Ahead of the derby on Saturday, it’s interesting to see how several of the Toffees’ numbers now read like those of Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool team, whilst at the same time the Ulsterman has moved his Reds side in a slightly different direction.
The below table shows the ‘per game’ passing and average possession figures (from WhoScored) for Everton under David Moyes from 2009/10 to 2012/13, as well as for Martinez’ debut Goodison campaign, and then also Liverpool for both this season and last.
The transformation in Everton’s numbers by Martinez is startling; an extra 100 passes per game, and a whopping 7.3% increase in average possession. Of course, the Spaniard only has an eleven game sample at this point, but it’s hard to see the numbers dropping off to Moyes’ levels, no matter how long he remains in charge.
At this point, the Toffees also average more possession than Liverpool did last season, though for the second half of that campaign the Reds were not so focussed on ball retention. Even so, Martinez deserves a lot of credit for making Everton play in such a different way so quickly, and with mostly the same players as Moyes utilised last season.
How do the clubs compare on shots per game at both ends of the pitch?
From a Liverpool point of view, the Reds have to be pleased with their improved shooting accuracy so far this season, even if they are allowing their opponents an extra couple of shots per game (though of course this could be down to them leading more often this term, as teams who lead concede more shots than those chasing games).
To give Liverpool’s improved shot accuracy some context, last season they were ranked a lowly 85th of the 98 teams in Europe’s big five leagues on this metric, whereas they are currently fourteenth for 2013/14.
Roberto Martinez again deserves credit here. Everton are conceding fewer shots per game than in any of the past four seasons, and whilst they are having fewer shots themselves, they are slightly more accurate thanks to keeping the number on target efforts they muster virtually the same.
In fact, Everton appear to have a very balanced team this season; only five clubs in the Premier League have had more shots than them, and only five have conceded fewer efforts, so the fact that they are level on points with fifth-placed Manchester United should come as no surprise.
The Toffees have the joint fewest league defeats in the English top flight this season (one) though at the same time they have only earned a single point more than they did from the corresponding fixtures last season. For the record, Liverpool are four points up by this measure at present.
In terms of the match this weekend, as the Blues have only lost one of their last twenty-eight league games at home, and Brendan Rodgers has a poor record away at teams in the top half of the table (winning just one of eleven so far whilst Liverpool manager), I have to sit on the fence and predict a 1-1 draw. A lot of key stats are similar for the two teams too, which has also lead me to suspect that a stalemate awaits.
For starters, the Reds’ and Blues’ chance quality (full explanation of that here) is virtually identical. Liverpool have had 38% of their chances in the centre of the box compared to Everton’s 35%, and both have allowed 32% of their chances against in that area. Both teams have converted 10% of their chances so far, which also suggests a close game is in prospect.
In terms of individual players to watch, it could well be a big day for (presumably) Lucas Leiva, as Everton lead the Premier League this season for converting chances created in the central area outside of the box, so it wil be key for Liverpool’s defensive midfielder to stop them from creating opportunities in this zone.
Although Leighton Baines is less creative under Martinez (averaging 1.3 chances per game this season, compared to 2.3 under Moyes), Everton still make 41% of their attacks down their left hand side, which is a higher proportion than any other team in the Premier League this season. As Liverpool make 41% of their attacks down their right, that particular flank is likely to be very lively on Saturday afternoon.
A final thought: it wouldn’t surprise me if Liverpool scored from a set play in this match. Everton have yet to concede from a set piece this season (which is an unsustainable record), and the Reds have scored three (plus forced a Fulham own goal) from dead ball situations in their last six matches. Watch this space…
Recent and related posts you might like:
Brendan’s Bottom Half Beatings – It turns out that regularly swatting aside the Premier League minnows is not as easy as Rodgers makes it look.
Liverpool vs Fulham: Chance Quality Preview – The stats from 2013/14 so far suggest a comfortable win for the Reds (and so it proved!).
Better With The Ball? It’s Just A Shot Away – A look at who shots on target affect results. Certainly more than possession does, Brendan…
LFC Pass Combination Heatmaps 2013/14 – A look at which players have been most involved pass-wise, and who they’ve linked up with in every league match this season.