As the Raheem Sterling contract saga rumbles interminably on, the following tweet appeared in my timeline on Wednesday night.
The stats here are undoubtedly impressive, not least for a 20 year old playing in a team that has struggled to get close to the heights of 2013/14. They don’t take any account of how much time Sterling has spent on the pitch though, so I’ve taken a closer look by factoring that information in.
Raheem Sterling is Liverpool’s joint-top scorer in the league alongside Steven Gerrard this season, with six goals. If you factor in how long each player has played though, then Sterling drops to sixth for goal frequency. Even if you exclude Gerrard (for his penalty goals) and Lambert and Borini for their small goal samples, then Sterling is third; he has scored every 404 minutes, compared to 364 for Lallana, and 176 for Sturridge.
Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling both have seven league assists this season (and you can read far more about Liverpool’s creativity here). If we again exclude Borini (sorry, Fabio) then Sterling is first on a pro-rata basis, with one assist every 346 minutes, which is slightly ahead of Henderson’s tally of one per 362 minutes. No complaints here regarding how Sterling is portrayed in the above graphic (though shouldn’t it say joint-1st?).
The interesting thing here is that when I consulted WhoScored, Sterling wasn’t even top; according to them Raheem has had one fewer shot than Coutinho, who has had sixty-seven. On a per-minutes basis, Sterling drops to fifth, and his rate of a shot every thirty-seven minutes is a long way shy of Balotelli (every sixteen minutes) and Sturridge (every nineteen).
Shots On Target
Sterling does lead the way here with twenty-seven, and Coutinho (with twenty-three) is the only other Liverpool player to have more than twenty so far in 2014/15. As you’d expect from the above shots info, Sterling (one every ninety minutes) is comfortably behind Balotelli (every forty-two) and Sturridge (every fifty) in the shots on target frequency stakes. Shot accuracy is not covered in the graphic but Sterling deserves credit here, as his figure of 41% is the best of any player to take at least twelve shots for the Reds this season.
No arguments here whatsoever; Sterling has set up fifteen chances more than the next highest creator (who is Jordan Henderson) and even when factoring in playing time, Sterling is still in first place, with one chance fashioned every thirty-nine minutes. This is all the more impressive when you consider that not one of Sterling’s chances has been set up via a corner or a free-kick.
Whether you look at all dribbles attempted or just the successful ones, it’s clear that Sterling should be ranked second or third, depending on if you include the limited pitch-time of Jordan Ibe. Either way, Raheem still trails Coutinho on both dribbling measures, though in fairness there is not a huge amount in it; less than two minutes per dribble difference, in fact.
There is no doubting the impact that Raheem Sterling has made this season, and the fact that he has played more minutes than most of his colleagues is in no way a bad thing, as it further demonstrates both his undroppable form but also his durability.
The column of 1sts in the above Sky graphic almost suggests that Sterling is more vital to Liverpool than Suárez was though, when a fully fit Sturridge (if that’s not an oxymoron) would almost certainly have taken at least three of the top-of-the-stat slots, and perhaps Coutinho could have a couple of them too. More than anything though, I just hope the contract saga is resolved sooner rather than later.