Georginio Wijnaldum: A Quick Look At The Stats

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Liverpool look set to sign Georginio Wijnaldum for a fee believed to be around £25m. I’ve taken a very quick look at some of his stats from the last campaign (with a few words on Mané here for good measure too).

Last season, Wijnaldum scored eleven league goals against an expected goals total of 10.43, giving him a performance rating of 105%. He and another Reds new boy Sadio Mané were very closely matched here (Mané also scored eleven, vs an ExpG tally of 11.64) but whereas Mané missed his one penalty, Wijnaldum scored his. 

That aside, their records were virtually identical, and it’s clear that Jurgen Klopp has identified that Liverpool need more goals from midfield; Wijnaldum and Mané were ranked joint-third in the Premier League for goals whilst playing in midfield last season, so both should go a long way to addressing that issue.

Although Wijnaldum scored all of his goals at St James’ Park, he did have clear-cut chances (which are defined by Opta as “situations where a player should reasonably be expected to score usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range”) away at Arsenal and Manchester City so with slightly better finishing he could easily have broken his away duck.

It’s also worth noting that in his final season in the Eredivisie with PSV, he scored nine non-penalty goals away from home and only one player (Michael de Leeuw) bettered that, and even then by only one goal. I suspect Wijnaldum’s lack of goals away from St James Park may have been more to do with Newcastle’s issues than his own. I guess we’ll see this season. 

In terms of top quality creativity, he created five clear-cut chances for his colleagues. That doesn’t sound particularly impressive, but Newcastle as a team only created thirty-one all season, so he was responsible for 16.1% of their total. 

For context, Coutinho and Firmino were the top CCC providers for Liverpool (each setting up nine of the club’s total of fifty-five) with 16.4% of the Reds’ tally so I’m hopeful Wijnaldum would create a similar amount when playing for a better team.

Using my expected assists system (which I created a few years back), the chances Wijnaldum created were worth 3.3 assists in total and he got four so as with his expected goal scoring, that basically matches up. (NB Some stats sites gave him an assist for the Toon’s second goal at Liverpool, for five in total, but Stats Zone which I use to collate my data did not, hence why I’ve got him as having four). 

The numbers aren’t all positive though, and his defensive stats do give me slight cause for concern. His ball recovery rate is virtually identical to the likes of Coutinho and Firmino, but whilst Wijnaldum averaged 1.9 tackles and interceptions per ninety minutes played, the likes of Firmino (3.0) and Lallana (2.5) topped that figure just on tackles alone. 

Bear in mind too that Newcastle averaged 47.4% possession compared to Liverpool’s 55%, so the Dutchman will have had more opportunity to win the ball back than his new teammates did. Will he be hard working enough for a Klopp side? 

It’s always hard to assess the stats of a player who played for a bad team, but Wijnaldum did pretty well all things considered. In many ways it’s encouraging that he ‘only’ scored as many goals as his shot locations said he should; I’d prefer that to signing someone who had massively overachieved on a short term basis, as this appears to be more sustainable. 

With Liverpool providing more and better quality opportunities than Newcastle did, I’m confident Wijnaldum can score double figures for the Reds in 2016/17. 

Divock Origi Season Review

Origi celebration

This article was originally for subscribers of The Tomkins Times (here).

When will we learn, eh? Well, most of you reading this don’t need to learn, but large swathes of the wider fanbase certainly do; when will fans accept that young players usually take time to settle, as do players coming to England from overseas, so when a new signing ticks both boxes maybe they deserve a little leeway?

September 23rd 2015. Liverpool are struggling to get past Carlisle United of League Two in the Capital One Cup. Divock Origi, a twenty year old Belgian who has recently joined the squad (having been officially signed a year earlier) comes off the bench in the 34th minute to replace another new signing, Roberto Firmino, to make just his third appearance for the club. A search of Twitter suggests he wasn’t doing too well (and I stuck to a fairly mild swear word; far worse versions of this are available)…

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Liverpool FC Creativity Combinations 2015/16

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Having originally devised this idea in 2013, this is the third season where I have collated data on which Liverpool players linked up to create chances in the Premier League. You can see the information for 2013/14 here, and 2014/15 here.

In previous years I have looked at other aspects beyond the raw figures, and whilst I plan to do similar with this season’s numbers, time is as usual against me so this will have to suffice for now. Without further ado…

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Loris Karius: Stats Review

Loris Karius

Liverpool have completed the signing of Loris Karius, a goalkeeper who plied his trade in the Bundesliga for Mainz. The first statistical tweet I saw regarding him came from Sam Jackson (Twitter) last week. You may or may not be familiar with Sam, but I saw him give an excellent presentation on goalkeepers at this year’s Opta Pro Forum (which you can watch here), and this was his initial reaction to the news:

Oh. That’s not good. You can imagine Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce licking their lips at this news (sorry for the horrible image there). If Karius is struggling with crosses in a league where teams average 13.7 crosses per game (and no team averages more than 19 per match) and is coming to a league where the average is 20.9 per team per game (and only two teams average fewer than 19 per match) then he is going to be severely tested in one potential area of weakness in the Premier League.

So far, so Mignolet. The Belgian trades on his ‘decent shot stopper’ reputation, but how does Karius compare? Fear not, Reds fans, this is where the good news starts.

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Why Liverpool Need To Focus Their Wins in 2016/17

Regular readers will have noticed that this blog has gone very quiet in recent months. Sadly not because I have secured a writing or statto job somewhere, but because I’ve been too damn busy in the real world.

Anyway, after Liverpool recorded a 2-0 win over Watford in a relatively low key end of season contest, I noticed something about the number of wins that they’ve had this season so thought I’d pen a very quick post on why it’s worth thinking about ahead of next season.

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¿Benteke y Sturridge deberían jugar juntos?

Here’s the latest Spanish translation by James Hillyard (Twitter), and here’s the original version.

Un par de tuits de un compañero seguidor y estadista del Liverpool @natefc (Twitter y blog) lograron captar mi atención el domingo cuando los de Anfield cayeron 2-0 ante el Newcastle

öh yoü beaüty @natefc

Benteke y Firmino salen del campo después de haber tenido 1 pase combinado entre los dos en una hora de juego.

öh yoü beaüty @natefc

Goles cada 90 mins con Benteke como titular: 1.12 (403 mins), goles cada 90 mins con Benteke entrando desde el banquillo: 3.24 (111 mins), goles cada 90 mins sin Benteke: 1.91 (566 mins)

Estas estadísticas no se ven bien y tampoco muestran el impacto que tiene Benteke cuando arranca de titular (aunque con/sin estadísticas generalmente no dependen de solo un jugador) o de su juego asociado, si así se le puede llamar a un pase en una hora, con Roberto Firmino.

Decidí encontrar ese pase, esa maldita curiosidad mórbida es mas fuerte que yo…

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Liverpool’s Chronic Lack Of Goals

I reviewed the stats from Liverpool’s disappointing 2-0 defeat at Leicester City, and I noticed that the Reds’ two shots on target were by Emre Can and Dejan Lovren.

Leaving aside the damning indictment that this fact makes on the performance of Liverpool’s forward players in this match, my immediate thought was “no wonder we didn’t score, those two only have one league goal between them”.

The problem for Jürgen Klopp is that these two are far from an isolated case.

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Comparación: Pelotas Paradas del Liverpool vs los del Dortmund

Here’s the latest Spanish translation by James Hillyard (Twitter), and here’s the original version.

Jürgen Klopp solo ha sacado un punto de sus primeros dos partidos en Anfield y esto es básicamente debido a que se concedieron goles tardíos desde tiros libres del equipo opuesto en esos partidos. Pensé, entonces, que seria interesante ver como el Dortmund se manejo con situaciones de pelotas paradas para ver si la fortuna del Liverpool cambiara.

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Liverpool’s Set Piece Record in 2015/16

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From an amateur’s point of view, it’s great that there are multiple websites that freely share football stats. They don’t always publish a simple list of what you want though; as Liverpool’s woes with defending set pieces continued at Carrow Road, fans want to know how the Reds compare to every other side in the Premier League when it comes to conceding from dead ball situations, but nowhere publishes a table of this information.

I’ve put in the hard yards over at whoscored.com, and gone through ten match previews to extract the data. Here’s what I found.

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Sturridge, Liverpool, and The Power Of The Through-Ball

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Long-term readers will know that I like to collate which players link up to create chances for Liverpool. This season, I thought it would be interesting to also look at what type of chances they create. Before we get to that though, here’s a look at what the conversion rates are for different types of pass in the Premier League across the last six full seasons. The data is from WhoScored, and the pass types are sorted by subsequent shot conversion rate. 

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Analysis: Stoke 0 Liverpool 1

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I wasn’t planning to do one of these for this match, but as there were some impressive stats from a very good Liverpool display I thought I would. The Reds played well in any context, but not least when considering the injuries they suffered both before and during the match.

There was a great line regarding this from Klopp at the end of his post-match interview on SKY. When asked about the games coming up with the horrendous injury list, he said “If we have eleven, we will fight”. They certainly fought well at Stoke, and here are a few key stats from the match.

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Liverpool’s Record at Attacking Corners

John Aldridge has been writing in the Liverpool Echo (here) about how poor the Reds are at corners.

“The situation with Liverpool corners and set-pieces in general has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous… from our own corners, we don’t look like we even know what we’re doing.”

Regular readers will know that this is exactly the sort of thing I like to look into, so here’s what I found.

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Should Benteke and Sturridge Play Together?

A couple of tweets from fellow Liverpool stathead @natefc (Twitter, blog) caught my eye on Sunday as the Reds slumped to a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle:

Those stats don’t make good reading for Benteke’s match impact when starting (though with/without stats are never really down to just one player) or his partnership, if one pass in an hour can be called that, with Roberto Firmino.

I decided to find the pass, out of morbid curiousity as much as anything…

To be fair, Ibe had a shot at the end of this sequence, so it wasn’t the worst pass of the match by any means (which is easily done when Liverpool misplaced more passes than in any league match for the last five years), but clearly the Reds need more from their front two if they choose to play one. In fairness, Firmino and Benteke exchanged seven passes in the previous league match against Swansea, though none lead to either of them having a shot at goal.

So based on the above stats, should Benteke’s role be limited to that of an impact substitute, or should he perhaps be given a chance up top alongside Daniel Sturridge?

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Analysis: Southampton 1 Liverpool 6

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It’s always essential to remember that all shots are not equal; hence the proliferation of expected goal models across the blogosphere. But I’m sure Brendan Rodgers would have a wry smile at the stats from this match; I wrote here how the Reds had forty-seven shots (including seven on target from inside the box) in an earlier round of the competition against Carlisle, yet only scored once, but Liverpool had seven shots on target against Southampton and managed to score six.

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Analysis: Liverpool 1 Swansea City 0

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I didn’t see this match, so this will be brief. Liverpool had a top-level performance at one end of the pitch, and a bad one at the other. Let’s cover the good first, and my observation on this was prompted by this tweet:

Having looked at the data for this for the period since August 2012, it’s clear how rare this is; Liverpool have done this just once a season in the last three years. Here’s a table of the matches in question, and I’ve ranked them by an additional stat, opposition shots in the box:

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Analysis: Are Liverpool Winning The Ball Higher Up The Pitch Under Klopp?

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I’ve read and heard different opinions on this issue recently; for instance, Michael Cox wrote for Four Four Two (here) that Klopp’s influence is demonstrated by the fact that Liverpool completed more ball recoveries, interceptions and tackles in the opposition half in certain games under Klopp than they did in Brendan Rodgers’ last match.

Sean Rogers, speaking on The Anfield Wrap’s excellent Tuesday Review show (here, subscribers only) was quick to point out how Manchester City won the ball higher up the pitch than Liverpool did last weekend though, which most people would not have expected.

So has there been much of a shift this season since Jürgen Klopp took over from Brendan Rodgers?

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Analysis: Manchester City 1 Liverpool 4

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Where to start with a result and performance like that? Fortunately there’s so many good stats to get our teeth into, that this should virtually write itself.

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Christian Benteke y algunos pensamientos filosóficos

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Here’s the latest Spanish translation by James Hillyard (Twitter), and here’s the original version.

Escribí este artículo a principios de Septiembre, para la última edición del excelente We Are Liverpool, una revista para fanáticos. Mucho ha pasado en Anfield desde ese momento, pero con la vuelta de Benteke a los entrenamientos va a ser interesante ver si las estadísticas en este artículo siguen siendo relevantes bajo el mando de Jürgen Klopp.

Este tweet reciente de @WhoScored me llamo a atención mientras intentaba soportar otro fin de semana interminable de receso internacional:

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