Confession time: I started writing this up ages ago, but forgot to complete it. I still think you can tell a lot about a team’s campaign when you look at their appearance and minutes played data though, so I figured it was still worth posting. Here are the facts and figures for Liverpool in 2014/15, along with a comparison of how many minutes the main men played compared to last season.
Rather than blinding you with a grid filled with numbers, I’ve used a simple heat map; dark red means the player played the full game, through to white where they did not feature (though they may have been on the bench, but I couldn’t find a satisfactory way to show that).
No doubt there’s plenty more to be gained from this info, but here are a few of the things that I noticed:
- Brendan Rodgers only used all three of his substitutes in thirty-six of the fifty-eight matches this season; 62% of the time. It won’t always have been appropriate to use all three of course, but as the Reds failed to win thirty-two games in 2014/15, there will have been plenty of times when further changes might have helped. That said, Liverpool averaged 1.68 points per game when not using their full complement of changes, but 1.59 when they did, so it’s certainly not decisive.
- Jordan Henderson played 115 minutes more than Liverpool’s four recognised strikers did between them in total.
- Chelsea at home in the League Cup was the only match not to feature any of the strikers, but there were nineteen games where they mustered forty-five minutes or less between them. Only three matches featured at least 180 minutes of strikers, and one of those was a game featuring extra time (Besiktas away).
- Henderson set the record for consecutive appearances by an outfield player: 24. Emre Can would likely have equalled or bettered it had he not been sent off at Arsenal, which left him stranded on 23.
- Only ten players made more appearances than Rickie Lambert, but no player with more than two run outs had a lower average appearance length. The former Southampton man only played more than forty-five minutes on eleven occasions. The three strikers aside from Sturridge were bottom of the pile for average appearance length (for players with a minimum of three apps).
- When compared to 2013/14, Raheem Sterling saw the largest increase in his club minutes; 1,980 more, or the equivalent of twenty-two games.
Sterling may no longer matter to Liverpool, but his departure combined with Gerrard’s means that two of the top six most played outfielders are no longer at the club. With the demands of a Europa League campaign to negotiate, the Reds could easily face a similar number of games this season, so I hope we see a wider use of the squad than occurred in 2014/15.