I’ve written two posts detailing the lack of attack on the left side of the midfield for Liverpool, once indirectly in looking at Maxi Rodriguez’s 7 goal outpouring over three of the final four matches of the 2010/’11 English Premier League season and once directly in Liverpool Rights the Attack. In the later of those articles we discussed the transfer policy at Liverpool this summer, specifically the addition of Charlie Adam lending some balance to an attack that last season rated dead last in attacking through the left wing. The Red most recent addition, former Newcastle man Jose Enrique, is another long step in the correct direction.
Newcastle’s overall attack last season was, on balance, shifted to the left. They made 4084 wing passes, with 2304 of those going to the left, with just 1780 going to the right. That is 56.4% of the attack down the left, with 43.6% down the right. Jose Enrique himself is nearly wholly responsible for this drastic unbalance.
As you can from the above, Glen Johnson, Liverpool’s out of position right back, will presumably be returned across the pitch in a defensive line that see’s Carragher, Skrtel and Agger battle for the center halve spots while Johnson plays the right with Jose Enrique on the left. The cut off to be included in the above chart was 2,400′ with Skrtel and Carragher both coming in just north of 2,400′. That may be the preferred first choice back line for Kenny Daglish this season and if it is the inclusion of Jose Enrique gives much needed balance. We posited in an earlier article that Liverpool would need to add 700 additional wing passes, 100% of them to the left wing, to balance the attack and bring it on par with the attacking of the other top 6 clubs. With the addition of Charlie Adam and Jose Enrique Liverpool have addressed this problem correctly and efficiently, bringing in two players who have the ability and proven desire to play the ball down the left wing. Liverpool have also made a correct decision, at least from a rough psychological viewpoint, to add Stewart Downing as the former Aston Villa players presence on the left wing may encourage more play to that side with his teammates secure in the knowledge that their effort will not go to waste.
Though this statistic from OptaJoe may not come to fruition again this term, Liverpool supporters will certainly be hoping that last sentiment remains true. Even if Jose Enrique doesn’t manage quite the number of touches for Liverpool that he did with Newcastle his presence and penchant for playing the ball to the left wing will help to balance the Liverpool attack, a balance that, on balance, should be the difference between finishing 6th and challenging for the title.
Jose Enrique, despite his attacking proclivities, is not a liability at the back. He is not as good on 50/50 balls as his new teammates, but he makes up for this deficiency with skilled play on the ground and with timely interceptions. In addition to his 1 last man tackle in 2010/’11 he also made 7 clearances off of the line. Being a wing back it is understandable that his loss of possession would be higher than that of center halves Skrtel and Carragher. His addition to Liverpool gives Daglish a formidable collection of defenders for selection each weekend and Jose Reina will look to benefit from this addition as much as Liverpool’s attack. In all, a smart bit of business and one that directly address one of Liverpool’s glaring weaknesses without creating a new void to fill.
Fantasy EPL value of Enrique also written by Cooper at FantasyGaffer.com