Liverpool – Opta Stats Season Review 11/12 | Part Two – Midfield


Welcome to part two of the end of year statistical review of Liverpool’s 2011/2012 season. You can find part one here if you wish to brush up on what I all ready compiled for LFC’s goalkeeper and defender stats.

We will take a look at central midfielders in this part; however, I will divide the midfielders up into wide attackers and central midfielders. The wide attacker stats (along with strikers) can be seen in the upcoming part three of the season review.

There is not much context in comparing say Spearing, a defensive midfielder and chances created per minute, to say Maxi’s. Obviously both have completely different jobs on the pitch. I have also filtered out any player to have started less than 8 games in the season in this part.

Liverpool Centre Midfield

When it comes to central midfield we will take a look at six players from last year. Included are Gerrard, Adam, Henderson, Shelvey, Spearing and Lucas. It’s important to state that both Spearing and Lucas had a slightly different (defensive) midfield role than the others. Creatively, they won’t as efficient; however, their defensive/battling statistics should better. Obviously, the inverse should be true of Gerrard, Adam, Henderson and Shelvey.

Centre Mid – Accuracy

Instead of using charts in this section I will be using tables to show the statistics. With a total of six players to look at, the charts tend not be quite as clear as you would want them to be. The top statistic of each metric in each column will be marked with a red box. Clearly from one look you can tell straight off that Gerrard came out tops when it came to shooting and converting chances.

Centre Midfield - Accuracy Percentages

Tackle Win %

Jordan Henderson won 84% of all his tackles last season, winning 41 out of 53 tackles he attempted. But not only does he top this list, he also as the highest rate of any Liverpool player for the last two seasons. In the context of the Premier League, of all the players to win 40 or more tackles last season only 5 players won a higher proportion. All though Henderson is not known for his tackling maybe he just didn’t get the credit he deserved in this department last season.

Ground Duel Win %

Lucas won a higher proportion of his 50/50 ground duels than his fellow central midfielders last season, winning 63% of them. Not really a stand out statistic, as Carragher (73%), Skrtel (69%) and Agger (67%) in the Liverpool squad all recorded a higher percentage.

Accurate Passes

Both Spearing and Lucas had an 86% pass accuracy last season, a fine pass completion stat, but you would expect at least above 85% for a quality defensive midfielder, whose passes are mostly short and lateral. Both Parker and Carrick finished the season with 90% pass completion, so that’s what Lucas and Spearing should be aiming at.

Shooting Accuracy

With 52% of all his shots on target, Gerrard came out tops in this category. Out of the Liverpool squad only Bellamy could match that last season, who also had 52% of his shots on target. Anything over 50% for a midfielder is definitely at the higher end of things, so a decent stat from Stevie.

Shot Conversion

Apart from Gerrard with 24%, this column makes for miserable reading. To have five centre midfield players with shot conversions below 7% is pathetic. And it really highlights where our problems were last season. Having said that Gerrard’s stat is pleasing; of all players last season to register over 30 shots only 10 of those had a shot conversion above 24%. So something to cling on to.

Clear Cut Chance Conversion

Again Gerrard tops this statistic in our table above, converting 67% of all his clear-cut chances into goals. All though probably slightly misleading considering he only had 3 clear-cut chances for the season. Nevertheless only Craig Bellamy had a higher clear-cut chance conversion than 67% for Liverpool last season.

Centre Mid – Attacking Mins ‘Per’

So let’s take a look at a few attacking statistics, and see who created more often while on the pitch last season. I think the first two columns, minutes per shot/shot on target, are self-explanatory. Obviously having a shot more often doesn’t make you a better player, but it does tell us that a particular player likes to get forward, or that the more shots he has the more involved in the game he is. Which is interesting to know. Anyway, Shelvey came out tops in both categories in the table. If a player like Mata had a shot every 46.02 minutes last season then it shows Shelvey doesn’t lack any confidence when he is on the pitch.

Central Midfield - Attacking Minutes 'Per'

Minutes Per Clear Cut Chance Created

Probably not a lot of people would have guessed Charlie Adam would have been Liverpool’s most efficiently creative central midfielder last season. He created a chance every 41.04 minutes he was on the pitch, with Steven Gerrard following closely behind every 41.79 minutes. Only Suarez and Bellamy created a chance more often than Adam in the Liverpool squad last season.

Our last table for our central midfielders has a few more defensive minded statistics. At first glance it’s easy to notice that Lucas Leiva dominates when it comes to the battling statistics.

Minutes Per Ground Duel

Lucas was involved in a ground duel every 6.45 minutes last season, only Carroll and Suarez were involved in ground duels more often than Charlie Adam for Liverpool last season. It’s interesting to note, Spearing, who played Lucas’s role when he got injured, took nearly twice as long to get involved in a ground, only every 11.22 minutes.

Central Midfield - Battling Minutes 'Per'

Minutes Per Tackle

Again it’s Lucas who came out top in this metric, attempting a tackle every 15.37 minutes he was on the pitch. This really is probably the most incredible statistic I’ve come across whilst researching this article. The closest Liverpool player is Martin Kelly, involved in a tackle every 22.95 minutes, nearly a full 8 minutes longer. And in fact, in the last 4 seasons, the only Liverpool player to come close (of all Liverpool players to start 5 games or more in a season), to that stat was Mascherano in the 09/10 season, when he was involved in a tackle every 15.48 minutes. In a Premier League context, of all players to start 10 games or more last season, (over 300 players), no player put a tackle in more often than Lucas.

For Liverpool, Enrique made most tackles last year with 69, he started 33 games. Lucas made 68 tackles, he started only 12 games. Based on that, it’s frightening to think how many tackles he would have made, if he kept up that rate, Lucas would have finished the season having made 215 tackles. The EPL’s top tackler last season was Yohan Cabaye, with 116 tackles attempted, and in the last four seasons no player has finished the season with more than 178 tackles made. I know I’m going on a bit, but it needs to be put into context how good a stat that is, and how much Liverpool missed Lucas last season. It will certainly be interesting to see how his statistics pan out when he recovers from injury for the start of the new season.

Minutes Per Challenge

As you can see from the table Lucas comes out top again making a challenge every 3.87 minutes. Only eight players in the Premiership having played 10+ games last season can beat that. In fact, Andy Carroll is top of the pile, involved in a challenge every 3.14 minutes last season.

Minutes Per Pass

I included this statistic in the table because obviously central midfield is the engine room, and the more often a players gets involved in passes the more time he has on the ball, thus more possession and more influence on the game. Thus it’s not that surprising that Gerrard is the most influential in this category, attempting a pass every 1.35 minutes, and no other LFC player can better that last season. In the EPL 19 players passed the ball more often, Scholes tops that list attempting a pass every 1.03 minutes.

That concludes part two of the LFC statistical season review. Thanks for reading, please feel free to comment and stay tuned for part three, wide attackers and forwards, coming here soon.

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All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.comSubscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) See Demo’s and videos about the Stats Centre & read about new additions to the stats centre.


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