This article first appeared on The Tomkins Times on 8th February 2011.
Andy Carroll played some part in all of Newcastle’s first nineteen league games this season before succumbing to the injury that currently delays his Liverpool debut. In that time he scored eleven goals, which is more than a goal every two games (widely considered to be the mark of a good striker).
He has also been involved in a further eight goals (by this I mean he made a pass in the build up, or was fouled to win a penalty; it may not be an actual assist).
I must confess that I don’t watch too many matches aside from Liverpool’s, and seldom bother with Match Of The Day. So whilst I have heard good things about our new number nine, I can’t claim to have seen too much of him in action. I still haven’t, but I have had a closer look at his statistics via The Guardian’s chalkboards.
Starting with a breakdown of the types of goals he has scored, I found there was a pleasing variety.
Obviously no striker at this (or any half-decent) level only scores one type of goal, but it’s still good to see he’s found the back of the net with both feet and his head, especially as I’ve read a lot in the last week about how good he is aerially, with little mention of his shooting ability.
It’s also good to see that he scored against Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, and of course Liverpool, so he’s no mere flat-track bully.
Let’s take a look at his main statistics. I have divided them to a ninety minute average, as he didn’t play the full match in two games.
There are some interesting numbers here. The key one is that he has been involved in a goal in some way more than once every ninety minutes he has been on the pitch, an impressive record by anyone’s standards but especially for a young player in an inconsistent mid-table side.
A striker’s passing stats will never be as good as those of midfielder, who have multiple short ‘safety first’ passes to bump up their figures. To give his figure of 58.13% some context, Liverpool’s passing success rate for the opposition half of the pitch (where Carroll will have made the majority of his passes) in league matches so far this season is 71.86%, so he possibly has a little room for improvement here.
I have broken tackles down into aerial duels as well, as clearly a 6ft 3” striker is going to have the ball hit up to him quite a bit during the average match (though let’s not consider what might have happened had Roy Hodgson had him to utilise). He has done well on this front winning nearly two out of every three.
Although he has been bought in as firepower, this shows he could also be an asset at defending set-pieces. As has been noted on here before, Liverpool have quite a small team compared to the days of Crouch and Sissoko.
Carroll measures up at 191cm, and the average for Liverpool’s twenty other ‘first team’ (as in ‘have played in the league so far this season’) outfield players is 181.2cm, so his height and heading ability is more than likely to come in useful . A stat not included above is that he has won seven out of the twelve aerial tackles (58.33%) he has contested in his own penalty box this season.
Whilst Liverpool clearly would not have spent thirty-five million pounds on one player on the basis of just one performance, if you consider Carroll’s statistics from the match he played against the Reds, they show just what Damien Comolli and the Anfield hierarchy would have seen (and been impressed by) first hand:
Carroll was involved in all three goals, scoring one himself (his sole strike this season from outside the area), attempted 35% more passes than on average, and absolutely dominated our defensive players in the tackles. He may have scored a hat-trick against Aston Villa, but for all round play, this was probably his best match.
John W. Henry confirmed in this interview that Carroll “was No1 on our list of possibilities for the summer”, and that the Torres sale price depended on the cost of the Toon forward, not the other way around. Sounds like a huge vote of confidence in the newcomer to me.
Whilst clearly not an exact like-for-like replacement, Carroll was bought in during the January transfer window primarily to replace the departing Fernando Torres. Via Optajoe I was able to obtain Opta’s statistics for both players this season (so these may differ slightly from the above ones I compiled myself via The Guardian):
Remember, we’re comparing a European Champion and World Cup winner, with a twenty-two year old playing his first half season in the Premiership, and yet the Geordie’s stats compare favourably to the Spaniard’s on several levels.
Whilst most people would agree that Torres is currently the better player, if he’s disinterested (as everyone assumed he was, and having forced a move, it seems certain) then he’s surely less use than a decent up-and-comer with something to prove.
Plus Carroll has the time and potential to improve further; if Torres maintains his current level for another few years, then realistically that’s the best Chelsea can hope for. He certainly won’t be able to improve much, if at all.
Of course, none of this means that Andy Carroll will be a success at Liverpool, but the statistics certainly show why the club had him on their wish-list, and that he has a good chance of doing well at Anfield. Now it’s up to him.
Please take a look at my other articles, a list of which can be found here.