Now that Carroll appears to have played his last game for Liverpool, I thought I’d bump this piece up to the front of the blog. His form for the Reds wasn’t as bad as you might think…
Andy Carroll has just completed his first full season at Liverpool, but his return of eleven goals and four assists in fifty-six appearances in all competitions since signing from Newcastle hardly seems good enough for a £35m striker. It breaks down like this:
Appearances per goal (ApG): 5.09
Appearances per assist (ApA): 14
Appearances per goal or assist (ApGA): 3.73
The below graph shows the trend for Carroll’s ApGA figure since his sixth appearance for the Reds, as that was the match when he first scored:
As Liverpool will be hoping for around a goal every other game from Carroll, plus occasional assists, the figures don’t make for particularly pleasant reading.
However, I realised when compiling the figures that to judge Carroll on his productivity per appearance is a little harsh, as he has made several very late cameos as a substitute; indeed, adding together the time he has played in his eleven shortest appearances for Liverpool totals only eighty-six minutes, so less than one full match. He has also only completed ninety minutes in exactly half of his run-outs for the Reds.
To try to assess his progress more fairly, I have therefore divided his pitch time into “matches” (so blocks of ninety minutes, in other words), to see how his productivity has fared over his Liverpool career. Doing this reveals that Carroll has only played 38.7 “matches” for Liverpool so far, or one full league season essentially.
Whilst the below numbers are obviously better than those above, and any regular substitute player could make the same case, I think this gives a fairer verdict on his output:
“Matches” per goal (MpG): 3.52
“Matches” per assist (MpA): 9.68
“Matches” per goal or assist (MpGA): 2.58
We can see that Carroll has scored or assisted a goal every 2.58 “matches” he has played; considering the relatively slow start that he has had at Anfield, those figures are encouraging.
It’s interesting to note that Carroll has only had three-or-more ninety minute appearances in a row on four occasions so far in his Liverpool career. Looking at these thirteen games in isolation, he has four goals and an assist, meaning that his ApGA figure of 2.60 for these games is essentially the same as his MpGA figure overall.
Simply put, with a run in the team, he appears to increase his productivity. It’s also important to bear in mind that the thirteen matches refered to above include two Merseyside derbies (including one at Wembley), two games against Tottenham Hotspur, plus stern tests against both Manchester City and Manchester United, so it hasn’t entirely been a case of Carroll boosting his tally against lesser opposition.
This is where my real point regarding ‘finding form’ comes in. In his last seven run-outs for Liverpool (where he completed six of the matches and has averaged eighty-two minutes per appearance), Carroll has scored three goals and provided one assist, to give him an impressive MpGA figure of 1.60. This compares very favourably with his MpGA of 2.94 for his first forty-nine appearances for the Reds, where he averaged a far lower 59.4 minutes per appearance.
Bear in mind that had he scored a second goal in the FA Cup final, and he was only millimetres from doing so don’t forget, he’d have an MpGA of 1.28; in other words, a goal or an assist every 115 minutes he was on the pitch.
If Carroll maintained an MpGA of 1.60 across forty full games next season, he’d register a combined total of twenty-five goals and assists; impressive figures, though of course seven games is too small a sample to draw any realistic long-term conclusions from. That said, he should naturally improve to some extent next season by being fitter (it’s important to recall when judging his productivity that he was never fully fit during his first half-season at Liverpool), and by having gained experience at Euro 2012.
The figures definitely suggest that to get the most out of Carroll, he has to be played regularly, and whoever the new manager at Anfield is will do well to bear that in mind.
Please take a look at my other articles, a list of which can be found here.