Back in March, I wrote an article which investigated a new statistic I had devised: final third efficiency (and you can read the original piece here). In case you missed it, FTE is calculated as follows:
By dividing accurate final third passes (FTC) by shots on target (SoT), you can create a final third efficiency (FTE) figure for both teams, to see which team made the most of the ball up front.
I then subtract Liverpool’s score from their opponent’s to give them a FTE Difference for each match. The previous article had the data for the 68 matches from last season and this upto-and-including Southampton away; I have now added the remainder of this season as well as the available matches from 2010/11, giving an enlarged dataset of 102 games.
In the previous study, there was an almost even split of 33 matches where Liverpool were less efficient than their oppenents, and 35 where the Reds have the better of it. Now, there are 42 negative and 60 positive, though interestingly the points-per-game tally for each has only shifted by 0.01 since the last article:
As well as the minor shift in ppg, the goal difference per game has only worsened by 0.06 for the negative, and improved by 0.03 for the positive. These small changes seem to suggest to me that these figures will not now alter drastically however many matches I research in the future.
I previously noted that the extremes of form occur when Liverpool have a FTE Difference at past either plus or minus 11.7, and that trend also remains:
There have been two unexpected wins with a worse than -11.7 FTE Difference, and two defeats with a greater than 11.7, and closer look at the matches explains why these results were probably undeserved.
The two Liverpool wins were 3-2 against West Ham at Upton Park this season (with a score of -15.7), and a 1-0 victory over Fulham at home in 2010/11 (where the Reds scored -23.6).
Anyone know the link between the two matches? The winner in both games was an own goal (though Shelvey was later awarded the winner at West Ham by the dubious goals panel), which indicates that Liverpool were not particularly efficient upfront, and had to rely on gifts from the opposition.
Similar, the two unexpected defeats (both of which occurred during Roy Hodgson’s reign) were a 3-1 defeat at Newcastle, where the hosts scored all three of their shots on target, and a 1-0 home loss to Wolves, where the Midlanders only had two shots that tested the keeper. Based on the shot figures, both teams were fairly lucky to score as many goals as they did.
Finally, a look at how the top four from the last two seasons fare with regards to their FTE:
Since January, the Reds have been even more efficient up front, with an FTE of 16.5 since Daniel Sturridge’s debut, and an incredible 15.0 since Philipe Coutinho first pulled on the famous red shirt.
Think about that for a second: every fifteen completed passes in the final third of the pitch has lead to a shot on target in the Coutinho era.
The interesting (and perhaps surprising) thing is that, as per this workbook, the Reds’ final third passing accuracy has actually been on a downward trend since Sturridge’s debut, yet their efficiency has increased. Presumably the higher quality of chance that Coutinho generally creates (read more on that here) has lead to greater efficiency? Answers on a postcard please.
If Liverpool can maintain something close to their Coutinho inspired FTE next season then the goals will surely continue to fly in, so I will certainly be continuing to monitor this stat with close interest.