Daniel Sturridge has made a flying start to his career at Anfield, and has already bagged five goals and an assist in all competitions from just 507 minutes spent on the pitch. He has scored every 91 minutes in the league, which only Javier Hernandez (with a goal per 78 minutes played) can beat in the top flight this season.
Whilst these numbers make for fantastic headlines, I thought I’d dig a little deeper and see how the acquisition of the England international has affected Liverpool’s ability to create clear-cut chances (CCCs); the golden opportunities that strikers dream of, in other words.
After all, there can only be a CCC if there’s a player in the right place to receive the pass or seize upon a defensive error, and it seems clear from watching the Reds lately that the former Chelsea striker has helped massively with this already.
Think of Sturridge’s goal against Norwich for instance, which was a back post tap-in following a superb cross from Stewart Downing; last season, the only stat from that delivery would probably be an unsuccessful cross by Downing as Carroll would’ve been nowhere to be seen. This season, as a result of Sturridge’s movement and anticipation it’s a CCC for the much-maligned £20m winger, and far more importantly a goal for the Reds.
Similarly, at Old Trafford Sturridge was on hand to fire home Liverpool’s consolation goal when de Gea parried a shot, and frequently last season the opposition box was bereft of players in Red to seize on such opportunities. But in CCC-terms, what impact as he had?
Liverpool’s clear-cut chance creativity has improved by 2.5% in total on last season’s tally of 2.42 per game, but breaking the figures down further shows how Sturridge has aided this.
According to EPLIndex, the Reds have had a total of 67 CCCs in the Premier League this season, which equates to 2.48 per game.
However, in the five matches that Sturridge has appeared in, Liverpool have had fifteen CCCs (3.00 per game), which means that in the other twenty-two games they’ve had fifty two. Therefore, in their Sturridge-less matches, the Reds have created 2.36 CCCs per match, which is actually a decrease of 2.5% on last season.
For the record, the CCCs from Sturridge’s league matches so far are:
Norwich City: 3 (one for Sturridge, which he scored as mentioned above)
Arsenal: 4 (1 for Sturridge again, but unfortunately he missed)
Manchester City: 0 (the only blank here, but that’s no disgrace when playing away at the home of the champions)
Swansea City: 6 (Sturridge had three of them, and recorded one goal and two misses).
Although this is only a small sample, with away matches against the Premier League top three from 2011/12 combined with two home games against the newly promoted sides from the same season, it makes a fairly decent representation of the difficulty of a whole season.
In the above five matches, seven out of the fifteen CCCs created by Liverpool fell to Sturridge; 47% of them, and/or 1.4 per game. For comparison, twenty-four of the other sixty CCCs that the Reds have engineered this season have gone to Luis Suárez: 40%, or 0.92 per game.
Of course, as the Uruguayan hitman has created more CCCs than any other Red this season, and indeed the second most of any Premier League player, it’s perhaps no surprise that he hasn’t received as many as Sturridge himself, but the stats from the new striker’s early time at Anfield definitely suggest that the Suárez and Sturridge partnership can be a fruitful one. The figures show that it really is clear-cut.
Related articles you might enjoy:
Daniel’s Decent Debut – A review of Sturridge’s scoring debut at Mansfield in the FA Cup.
Daniel Sturridge: In Numbers – The lowdown on Liverpool’s new signing in January 2013.