Welcome to part three of the end of year statistical review of Liverpool’s 2011/2012 season. You can find part one and two here if you wish to brush up on what I all ready compiled for LFC’s goalkeeper, defender and centre midfield statistics.
In this part we are going to be looking at mainly attacking players and attacking statistics. I have broken the article into ‘wide attackers’ and ‘strikers’ for obvious reasons. The wide attackers, for example, are normally players who play in the front three of a 4-3-3 formation or directly behind or to the side of the striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation or variants of.
First let’s take a look at our wide attackers. I’ve made a decision not to include Henderson and Bellamy amongst our wide attack. Henderson has played on the right a number (around 9) of times, but was used far more centrally for the majority of the season. As regards to Bellamy, he started more often in a wide left role; however, I think positionally on the pitch he was more forward than midfield.
With those two not considered that leaves Maxi, Kuyt and Downing to compare. So what statistics shall we look at? Well what are the attributes a good wide attacker should have? Passing, crossing, dribbling, shooting, chance creation, goals scored (to a lesser extent) etc. So let’s first take a look at the accuracy for each of those.
Wide Attack – Accuracy
Clear Cut Accuracy
The first thing that is noticeable when looking at the chart is Maxi’s green column. He comes out with a higher percentage accuracy in five of the seven metrics. Dribbling and crossing accuracy are the only two categories Maxi does not come out top in. He scored from 57% of his clear-cut chances, only Gerrard (67%) and Bellamy (100%) had a better clear-cut chance conversion for Liverpool last season. Not surprisingly Downing had a 0% conversion rate, not having registered a single goal last season.
Again Maxi comes out top in the shot conversion stakes, converting 24% of all his shots into goals. Which is the joint best rate, with Steven Gerrard, of the entire LFC squad last season. In fact, over the last 4 seasons, only Kuyt with 26% in 10/11 and Torres with 29% in 09/10 can better Maxi’s 24% last year. So pretty impressive from Maxi. In an EPL context, of players to score 4 or more goals last season only 17 of those had a higher conversion rate than 24%.
Dribbling & Crossing Accuracy
Kuyt, not known for his dribbling skills, was successful with 57% of his dribbles. Better than his fellow wide attackers, still not a remarkable stat, but slightly above the team average of 49% for last season. Kuyt also bettered his colleagues with a crossing accuracy of 25% last season. Again not remarkable, but above the team average of 22%.
Lastly, we take a look at passing accuracy. Our man Maxi was accurate with 91% of his passes last season. Not only the most accurate in the LFC squad last season, but of all the EPL players to start 10 games or more last season, only De Jong, Gallas, Britton and Scholes had a higher pass accuracy than 91%. It really makes you wonder why Maxi was so ‘criminally underused’ last season. And with such high passing accuracies, could he be used next year by Brendan Rogers as the ball recycler ala what Leon Britton was for Swansea? Or with such fantastic shooting and conversion rates maybe even higher up the pitch?
Wide Attack – Mins ‘Per’
With the accuracy’s done let’s now take a look at how often, per minutes played or time on the pitch, each of our wide attackers influenced the game.
Mins Per Shot
Firstly, consider on this chart, the lower the bar the better the statistic. In the first two metrics, minutes per shot and shot on target, there is not much to choose between the three players. In fact, Maxi’s shot every 47.06 minutes, whilst by no means remarkable, would still be at the upper end of the scale when looking at attacking midfielders. When you consider Juan Mata, has a shot every 46 minutes it’s probably what you would expect from a quality player in that position. Typically a top striker would average a shot between every 20 and 40 minutes, so in the overall scheme of things our wide attackers were certainly not shy when it came to shooting last season.
Mins Per Clear Cut Chance
In terms of clear-cut chances created, Downing created one every 225.18 minutes. Whilst Kuyt and Maxi created one every 400 minutes, or 4.4 games. No other Liverpool player created clear-cut chances more often than Downing last season. Last season in the Premier League of all players to start 10 or more games only 13 players created a clear-cut chance more often when on the pitch than Stewart Downing. In fact Downing created a clear-cut chance more often than players like Nasri (241.33), Mata (281.22), Sigurdsson (249.83) and Ashley Young (262.00). So although Downing’s overall general play and finishing may have been poor, he was holding his own in the creativity stakes last season. Of course this doesn’t make him a better player than the players mentioned, it’s still interesting nonetheless.
Mins Per Chance/Assist
Downing also came out top in the next metric, creating a shot assist (chance) every 45.04 minutes. Again not too remarkable, Adam, Gerrard, Suarez and Bellamy all created more often than him last season, but still, not the worst either. In an EPL context, a fair way of the top of the pile with Mata, who created a chance or assist every 24.81 minutes last season.
Mins Per Goal
In our penultimate stat on the chart, minutes per goal scored, it’s clear that Maxi was the most prolific last season, scoring a goal every 200 minutes he was on the field. If he kept that rate up for an entire 38 game season Maxi would have finished with 17 goals. Of all players to start 10 or more games only two players, that are not strikers, had a better minute per goal rate in the Premier League last season. Those two players were Adam Johnson and Clint Dempsey, who scored a goal every 189.5 and 196.08 minutes . So that really is another incredible statistic for Maxi.
Finally let’s move on to our strikers. I debated long and hard about including Bellamy in this section, but when I took a look at the stats it was clear he had a bigger influence in the final third of the pitch last season than anywhere else.
Goals and shooting are a striker’s main stock and trade so let us take a look at some raw data in this area.
Striker – Goals
Firstly when you look at the table it’s quite clear that Luis Suarez dominates this section. He’s scored more goals, had more shots on/off target and blocked than his counterparts. He was LFC’s top scorer in the Premier League last season with only 11 goals. It may seem a paltry amount, but maybe not as bad as you may think, with only 13 players in the Premiership last season scoring more than 11 goals. However, overall, a team wishing to finish in the top four really should have their top scorer scoring more than 11 goals in a season. Of course, there were some mitigating circumstances, with that lengthy ban during the season.
So let’s put Suarez’s shot stats into some sort of context. With 128 shots last season only 5 players in the EPL had more shots than him. 48 of those shots were on target; only 4 Premier League players had more than 48 shots on target last season. Suarez also had 60 shots off target, and unfortunately no player in the Premiership had more shots off target last season than that.
Craig Bellamy has the highest shooting accuracy in the table, on target with 52% of all his shots. In Liverpool FC terms only Steven Gerrard in the squad can match that, also having 52% of all his shots on target. In Premier League terms, 52% is on the higher scale of things, especially when you consider both Rooney and Van Persie had a shot accuracy of 58% last season. What is notable is Suarez’s mediocre 44% and Andy Carroll’s poor 35% shot accuracy.
Bellamy also had the better shot conversion of his fellow strikers, converting 19% of all his shots into goals last season. But in Liverpool FC terms both Gerrard and Maxi with 24% had a better shot conversion than him last season. Even our best striker had a mediocre shot conversion rate. Not surprising really considering our woes in front of goal last season. What is also worrying is Carroll had a lowly 5% shot conversion. Of all the Liverpool FC players to score last season only Agger had a lower rate with 4%. And in fact 5% is the lowest any Liverpool FC striker has had in the last 4 seasons. On the plus side Carroll’s form really picked up in the last few games of the season.
Striker – Clear Cut Chances
So what are clear-cut chances? It is a chance where a player is reasonably expected to score, usually a one-on-one scenario or a chance from very close range. It tells us how deadly our strikers are when presented with a clear chance to score.
Clear Cut Chances Scored
Overall Luis Suarez scored the most clear-cut chances in the Liverpool FC squad last season, scoring 7. A paltry amount when you consider Wayne Rooney had a total of 33 clear-cut chances last season and scored from 18 of them. The less said about Carroll scoring from 3 the better. It’s not as if Liverpool as a team didn’t create or have enough big chances last season. They had 91 in total, only Spurs, Man United, Man City and Arsenal created more.
Clear Cut Chances Missed
Again Suarez missed more clear-cut chances than any of his team-mates, missing a total of 21 last season. In a Premier League context only Adebayor (24) and Van Persie (25) missed more clear-cut chances than Suarez last season.
Clear Cut Chance Accuracy
Bellamy with a 100% clear-cut accuracy, came out tops in the final column. Granted, he only had 3 clear-cut chances in total, nonetheless he still put them away. We can’t put Bellamy’s 100% stat into any real EPL context considering he only had a relatively small amount of clear-cut chances. But maybe if he had of started more games last season we might have scored more.
Both Carroll and Suarez had a poor clear-cut chance accuracy, 20% and 25% respectively. Of the 63 players to have 3 or more clear-cut chances last season, no other player had a lower accuracy than Carroll’s 20%. Something he really needs to improve on in the coming season. Not only that, but other than Carroll only one other player had an accuracy lower than Suarez’s 25%. In context our two main strikers really were bottom of the league when it came to putting away those clear chances. One final consideration, Rooney’s accuracy was 55%, Van Persie’s 46%, and Steven Fletcher 73%. If Suarez or Carroll maintained Rooney’s 46% rate they would have scored 5/6 goals more last season. Something to think about and improve on in the coming season.
Striker – Minutes ‘Per’
Lastly let’s take a look at some minutes ‘per’ statistics for our 3 strikers. This will give us an indication of how effective and influential our strikers were when they were on the pitch.
Minutes Per Goal Scored
Of course scoring goals is the most vital aspect of a striker’s job. But how often did our strikers score when they were on the field of play. Bellamy was the most effective striker in this department, scoring a goal every 206.83 minutes he was on the pitch. That’s around a goal every 2.3 games, which is reasonable enough, but still not anywhere near the top of the scale, which is around goal every 100 minutes. See attached Chart – Top ten minutes per goal of all players to score 6 or more goals last season.
Minutes Per Headed Shot
It’s no surprise here that Carroll shot with his head (42 headed shots) more often than any Liverpool player last season. In fact even in 10/11 he had a headed shot every 44.6 minutes for LFC, and no Liverpool player has shot more often with their head in the past 4 seasons than that. In a Premier League context, he had a total of 42 headed shots last season, 10 more than any other player. Next closest was Fletcher with 32 headed shots. And if we stretch that further and look at the last 4 seasons, only Crouch in 08/09 can match that, who also had 42 headed shots. So although the service to Carroll may not have always been the best last season, no one can really say we at least didn’t try to play to his strengths.
Minutes Per Shot
Lastly, and finally, let’s take a look at minutes per shot. Last season Suarez had a shot every 23.68 minutes, more often than any other Liverpool player. And in the last 4 seasons the only other Liverpool player who can better that is….. Luis Suarez, who last season had a shot every 23.45 minutes. Not even Torres in his pomp in 08/09 had a shot more often, every 24.07 minutes. Carroll was no slouch either last season, having a shot every 26.82 minutes himself. When you look at last seasons statistics in the Premiership, of all players to attempt 50 or more shots, only 3 players had a shot more often than Suarez, Rooney (23.66 mins), Van Persie (23.65 mins) and Dzeko (21.08). So Suarez and Carroll are up there with the best in terms of making themselves available and being a nuisance in the final third of the field. They just need a big improvement on converting those shots and chances into actual goals.
That concludes this three-part epic statistical season review. Thanks for reading, and please feel free to comment.
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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.