Following the debacle that was the defeat to Wigan, Liverpool fans have started to point their finger at a new target: Pepe Reina. A few of them saying: he’s not been making as many saves or doesn’t look as though he’s trying or he can’t save penalties anymore. Liverpool’s slump shouldn’t rest solely on the shoulders of Pepe Reina and hopefully the statistics will help show this.
We’re going to compare Pepe Reina to goalkeepers from the teams above Liverpool in the table with whatever data we can find from the EPLIndex Stats Centre. First, let’s look at their save averages for the season and compare it to their current form (current form usually calculated by using data from last six games). The save % is calculated by dividing the number of saves by the total number of shots on target conceded by the team. The graph below shows the results.
The graph above shows that Pepe Reina’s save average has dropped. Reina is sitting pretty at 71.1% of shots on target saved behind only Joe Hart and De Gea for the season so far but his form in the last six is alarming with it dipping by over 10% and now sitting at 60.9% of shots on target saved. All keepers improved this figure apart from Reina and Friedel which clearly shows which sides are struggling for form in the league at the moment.
David De Gea is topping the shot stoppers in the last six games saving 82.1% of shots on target and Joe Hart is a close second on 78.9%. Petr Cech and Szczesney have improved over the last six games just like De Gea has. Krul also improves but very slightly. Both Pepe and Brad fall behind Krul with the massive drops in the % of shots on target saved.
Can all of this be attributed on the goalkeeper’s form? We don’t think so but we’ll talk some more about this on page 2.
Let’s take a quick look at how this has affected their goals conceded statistics:
Pepe Reina and Brad Friedel are conceding goals every 54 minutes in their last six games and this average is way below the season average of 87.1 minutes for Pepe and 77.14 minutes for Brad. There, obviously, is a direct correlation with the decrease in percentage of shots on target saved and it shows here.
Joe Hart’s stats are surprising as he only improved his percentage slightly but he’s conceding a goal every 2 games if you go by his last six games although his season average is also far and away the best of the top seven. De Gea’s stats also show improvement here as well as Cech & Szczesney – the latter really improving his numbers above from conceding a goal every 69 mins to now 108 minutes in his last six.
It’s Krul that is the worst off here – already averaging 63.66 mins per goal conceded he has dropped further in the last six games to concede a goal every 49.09 mins, that’s almost two goals per game.
Next Page: Blame Game – can the blame rest solely on the shoulders of Pepe Reina?
So can all the blame be attributed directly on the goalkeeper? We don’t think it can. There has to be more to this than just a drop in Pepe’s form. So let’s have a look at the Clear Cut Chances metric that is available to us via our EPLIndex.com Stats Centre. We’re only going to use the data from 2012 so that we can see what the trends have been like for Liverpool this season.
Liverpool have conceded 17 clear-cut chances in 2012 of which the opposition have converted 8 times, giving a conversion percentage of 47%. Meanwhile Liverpool’s conversion rate in this same period is 28.6% (6/21 clear-cut chances scored). The opposition is clearly scoring at a better rate this season but has it changed much recently? Let’s break it down even further.
A fit Daniel Agger
There’s a noticeable change in the amount of clear-cut chances when either Daniel Agger or Jamie Carragher start. When Agger was fit in 2012 Liverpool were still out of form but only conceded, on average, 1.17 clear-cut chances per game. Whilst Carragher has started this has increased to 2 clear cut chances per game conceded. The opposition have taken advantage of this and converted 50% of them whilst Carragher has been playing too which is a better conversion rate.
The increase in the number of clear-cut chances is going to be a factor in why Pepe Reina’s shots on target save percentage has decreased in the last six games. In the last six games alone Liverpool have conceded 14 clear cut chances and shipped seven goals from these clear cut chances. It’s going to affect Pepe’s figures for sure so we believe that supporters blaming Pepe, solely for the slump should re-think this and really there is collective blame here as a team. Or is there?
Next Page: Skrtel, Enrique & right backs stats for 2012.
Defence Comparison in 2012
We can also compare how the defence has performed whilst Carragher has been in the side. Let’s have a look at some of the stats from Martin Skrtel.
Note: Click to enlarge any of the tables below.
Scanning both tables quickly there’s a dip in tackle win % when starting with Carra but an increase in both duel percentages. However there is a drop in amount of tackles attempted as well as ten less ground duels however there is one game less played with Carra here. With Agger – Skrtel, on average, attempts 14 tackles/duels per game and with Carragher he attempts 12.8 per game. Not really much of a difference there.
Starting next to Agger – Enrique attempts 14.4 tackles/duels per game whilst next to Skrtel this dips to 11.6 per game. Over a season that would attribute to 114 less tackles/duels per season if Enrique were to start next Skrtel. Maybe he’s not as comfortable? We’ve seen in the last few games where there’s been a little mix up at the back – especially for the Mackie goal for QPR. The numbers probably don’t tell us enough.
Let’s cover all bases whilst we’re at it! Are Liverpool missing Glen Johnson from a defensive aspect? Is that the reason for the slump? Let’s compare Kelly vs Johnson stats.
From a defensive point of view the answer is – no, Liverpool are not missing Glen Johnson defensively. Martin Kelly, on average, puts in more challenges and definitely wins more duels than Johnson does even though the England #2 seems to be a better tackler! On average Martin Kelly attempts 17.25 tackles/duels per game whilst Johnson attempts 12.17 duels/tackles per game. So as far as the right back is concerned – defensively we’ve been better here – or is Kelly working harder because of Carragher? That’s something we won’t be able to prove until Kelly plays along-side Skrtel for a number of games.
Next Page: Carra Vs Agger Stats and Conclusions…
Carra Vs Agger
The pretty clear stats here are that Carra has attempted 21 duels/tackles in 6 games (3.5 per game) in 2012 whilst Daniel Agger has attempted 58 in 5 games (11.6 per game) in 2012. There’s a massive difference in attempted tackles/duels that the team misses out on there and it’s clear that Carra holds back and doesn’t challenge as much as he’s conscious of being beaten or even giving away free kicks. The difference is there to see even if the actual win % may be slightly better for Carra however he’s playing with a much lower amount of challenges so is likely to have better percentages.
The win-loss record is identical for both in the last six they’ve both started however Agger brings a lot more to the table – the stability alongside Martin Skrtel being one of the main factors.
The blame on Pepe Reina may be a little unfair – the team is conceding a higher amount of Clear Cut Chances in recent weeks which usually means that the goalkeeper has less chance of a save and you’re relying on the opposition to fluff that clear-cut chance (sounds a lot like Liverpool doesn’t it?). Pepe’s shots on target save percentage has definitely gone down and I agree that he could have done better with a few of the goals recently but from a statistical point of view he has little chance of making a difference when the team are gifting clear cut chances, especially at a rate of two per game to the opposition.
The introduction of Jamie Carragher seems to be one of the reasons of this increase in clear cut chances conceded. Whilst not definitive via the stats it’s clear to the eye that the team is not as comfortable with Carragher in there. Enrique’s stats have slipped a little whilst playing along-side Skrtel whilst Skrtel is attempting half the tackles that he would normally attempt whilst playing in his preferred position of right-sided centre back. I think we’ve all seen that Martin is a better player when he plays as a right-sided CB.
Agger’s attempted tackles/duels are higher than those of an ageing Carra and for us it’s clear that we’re weaker at the back with Carragher in there. Carragher will always be a legend and we respect our legends however it may be time to start Coates next to Skrtel in defence whilst Agger recovers from injury.
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) See Demo’s and videos about the Stats Centre & read about new additions to the stats centre.