On Wednesday, Liverpool completed the signing of 23 year old England international Daniel Sturridge for £12m. I’ve been taking a look at his stats (via EPLIndex and Whoscored) to see if this is likely to be money well spent.
In the Premier League in 2011/12, Sturridge:
- Scored eleven goals, all from open play, which was the joint thirteenth most (with Luis Suarez, amongst others). He was also ranked thirteenth on a ‘minutes per goal’ basis, with one every 206 minutes.
- Converted 15% of his shots – the joint seventeenth best rate in the league (for players who attempted at least fifty shots), and better than any Liverpool player managed.
- Was coincidentally ranked seventeenth for clear-cut chance conversion (with 38% converted), which was again better than any Liverpool player (again, with a minimum of fifty shots attempted).
- Scored with both feet and his head – four with his right foot, five with his left, and two with his head.
- Was less reliant on one body part to score than all but two of the players (Dzeko and Holt) who scored more goals than him, suggesting he is a good all round finisher.
- Scored 82% of his goals inside the box; at a recent fansite event, Brendan Rodgers spoke of needing more players in the box who can score goals.
- Was joint 20th for accurate through balls per game.
As well as this, despite not seeing too much pitch time this season, with just one start under his belt in the league, he is the player with the most frequent shots on target figure in the Premier League in 2012/13. This is partially reflected in this interactive workbook, which illustrates that Sturridge’s shooting accuracy since the start of 2010/11 is similar to Suárez’, and his conversion percentage is better too.
Before I start painting Sturridge as the saviour for all Liverpool’s ills though, his statistics weren’t all positive last season.
For instance, of the twelve players who scored more goals than Sturridge, only two created fewer chances for their teammates per game. Is this evidence of his supposed selfish nature of playing?
Similarly, he was ranked joint tenth in the Premier League for shots per game, but only joint 120th for key passes per game. These figures do not paint a picture of a player who is looking for a team mate when in the box.
Whilst he is now the tallest player in the front two-thirds of the pitch for Liverpool, at 188cm tall, it’s unlikely he’ll be used as a target man, as he only won one of the fifteen aerial duels he attempted last season.
He also probably can’t be relied upon to retain the ball as much as some in the Reds’ squad, as Sturridge was dispossessed the joint tenth most times per game (2.4) in the top flight during the last campaign.
Personally I don’t see these traits as being too problematic at Anfield though; Rodgers does not favour a target-man or direct football, and in truth Liverpool have a few players already who aren’t confident in the box, so Sturridge’s apparent lack of passing when well placed could be very welcome; assuming he retains his finishing ability of course.
I think this move has the potential to be a successful one. Over to you, Daniel, and welcome to Liverpool.