Second-placed Chelsea host Liverpool this Sunday at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea’s number 9, Fernando Torres, has this week reflected on his time at Liverpool, in build up to this weekend’s clash. Torres scored 81 goals in 142 appearances for the Anfield club over a three and a half year spell, which he reflects on as ‘the best time I have had on a football pitch.’ El Nino paid tribute to former teammate and Liverpool skipper, Steven Gerrard, this week, after he made his 600th appearance for the club, by thanking him for the contribution he made to Torres’ career during his time at Anfield.
Neither Fernando Torres, nor Liverpool have quite experienced the same heights since the Spaniard’s departure. Torres has struggled to settle into life at Chelsea since he left Liverpool in a deal worth £50m during the 2011 January transfer window. Liverpool have also struggled, particularly in the goals department, which during his time in Liverpool, was the Spaniard’s bread and butter. Just before Torres made the move to South-West London, Liverpool brought in Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez from Dutch club Ajax. Suarez made a seamless transition to the English game and has proven himself over the last two seasons, to be arguably, Liverpool’s most important player.
Torres’ comments this week, are sure to have made some Liverpool fans reminisce of days gone by when El Nino wore red in front of the Kop. It makes me wonder which player Liverpool fans would rather have in their side, Fernando Torres in his prime, back when he was hitting double figures under Rafa Benitez, or the crucially influential number 7, Luis Suarez, who arguably at present, is playing the best football of his career.
Fernando Torres in his prime (2009/10)
The 2009/2010 season was Fernando Torres’ last full season as a Liverpool player. A season which saw the reds finish in a lowly 7th place, after narrowly missing out on the Premier League title the previous season. It was also Rafa Benitez’ last season with Liverpool as the Spanish coach left the club shortly after the dismal campaign which signaled the slow and steady decline which has followed. Despite the poor performances, Torres was in lightning form for the Reds.
[quote]Torres scored a goal every 95 minutes, equalling the conversion rate of Didier Drogba, the league’s top scorer for the 09/10 season.[/quote]
Torres managed a total tally of 18 Premier League goals in his last full season at Liverpool, this included a hat-trick during a 6-1 victory over Hull City at Anfield in September, a month in which he won the player of the month award. He scored twice in three separate games that season which helped his side to victories over Portsmouth, Sunderland and West Ham. Watching Liverpool, it always seemed likely that the Spanish striker would hit the net and 18 goals in 22 appearances meant the striker averaged almost a goal a game making him one of the best frontmen in Europe. Torres scored a goal every 95 minutes, equalling the conversion rate of Didier Drogba, the league’s top scorer for the 09/10 season.
Torres made a total of 63 attempts on goal, hitting the target on 32 occasions. This left the striker’s overall shot accuracy at an above average 51%. Torres also had the second highest chance conversion rate of the Premier League’s top 10 goalscorers for the season as he clocked up and overall chance conversion rate of 29%, second only to Emmanuel Adebayor’s chance conversion rate of 30%. Torres was Liverpool’s top scorer for the 2009/10 season and saviour on many occasions, as his goals proved crucial in preventing an even lower League finish for the Reds.
One thing Fernando Torres lacked during his time at Liverpool was another striker to partner him. Steven Gerrard often played off the striker, but generally Torres was preferred as a sole striker, leaving him on the end of an attack as opposed to starting one. However, one of the strong points of the Spaniard’s game is his ability to receive and hold up the ball. Over the course of the 2009/10 season Fernando Torres had a total of 780 touches of the ball in his 22 appearances. This left the striker’s average number of touches at 35.5 per game. Torres also gave possession away on 47 occasions during the season.
As a lone striker, Torres was certainly not the creative force behind Rafa Benitez’ team, but the striker still managed 3 assists in his penultimate full season in a Liverpool shirt. He created a total of 21 chances, 18 of which came from open play. He also made 379 attempted passes, completing 263 of those. This left his overall pass accuracy for the season at 69%. These statistics were above the average for the Premier League’s top strikers for the 2009/10 season, showing that despite being the target man, Torres managed to mix it up deeper in the field.
Fernando Torres enjoyed three and a half years as Liverpool’s number 9 and became the fastest player in the club’s history to reach 50 league goals. Since his departure, Liverpool have struggled up front. Torres’ £35m replacement Andy Carroll, brought in by Kenny Dalglish, failed to bring to Anfield the momentum he had gained with Newcastle. Carroll has since joined West Ham on loan. Liverpool’s current boss Brendan Rodgers sought Italian striker Fabio Borini as an answer to the goals crisis, however, the former Chelsea man has been injured for the majority of the current campaign, and prior to picking up the broken foot, had only scored 1 goal in 11 appearances for the club. Liverpool’s goal crisis lingers on.
Luis Suarez at Liverpool
As the only fit senior striker in Brendan Rodgers’ side, Luis Suarez has had to take on the responsibility of providing the goals for his side, who struggled to find the net all of last season. However, Suarez has embraced the challenge by firing home 7 goals in 10 appearances including a hat-trick away to Norwich at the end of September. The Uruguayan striker is Liverpool’s top scorer and is also currently the only Liverpool player to have scored more than a single Premier League goal so far this campaign. But does he possess the same clinical edge and killer instinct that Fernando Torres embodied during his time in a Liverpool shirt?
As mentioned, Suarez has put away 7 goals from his 10 league appearances so far this season. The crafty Uruguayan has a much larger appetite for taking on the shot than Torres had when he was with Liverpool, as Suarez has already taken 63 attempts on goal over the course of 10 games. As mentioned above, Torres had the same amount of attempts over the course of an entire season. We are only in November and Suarez has surpassed that. However, of his 63 efforts on goal, only 16 of those have been on target from the former Ajax frontman. Suarez has had a total of 12 shots blocked and 35 shots go off target. This leaves his overall shot accuracy at a below average 31%.
In terms of clear cut chances, Suarez has scored 3 and missed 5 so far this season. His chance conversion rate currently sits at 14%, less than half of that which Torres had accomplished in the 2009/10 season. Suarez, although intuitive, does not possess the same striker’s instinct that Torres had whilst in his prime at Liverpool. In fact, if Suarez had the accuracy Torres had in the 2009/10 season, he would be the League’s top scorer.
Fernando Torres played in more of a deep-lying forward role in his three and a half years at Liverpool, where as Luis Suarez often roams in and out of the channels, picking up a lot of possession in the hole. Therefore, Suarez is in more of a position to get involved in the play than Torres was likely to, as he preferred to be on the end of an attack. So far this season, Suarez has been at the heart of every Liverpool attack.
Already, Luis Suarez has had 615 touches in his 10 league appearances this season. This means Suarez touches the ball, on average, an astonishing 61.5 times a game. He is not far from passing out the 780 touches Torres had in his 2009/10 season at Anfield and it is still, only November! This is reflected in Suarez’ game as he is much more likely to drift deep to receive the ball with his back to goal, whereas Torres likes to run onto the ball facing the goal.Suarez has given the ball away on 18 separate occasions so far this season.
[quote]Suarez has created a total of 30 chances so far this season, 27 of which have come from open play.[/quote]
Due to his playing style and Liverpool’s current formation, Luis Suarez is allowed to roam a lot deeper than Fernando Torres was afforded during his spell at Anfield. Suarez has created a total of 30 chances so far this season, 27 of which have come from open play. Again, in a mere 10 games, Suarez has surpassed the total chances created by Torres in an entire season. Suarez has also contributed to his team with 2 assists creating a total of 3 clear cut chances.
So far this season, the Uruguayan has attempted 362 passes, completing 273 of those. This shows that he is also more likely to pass the ball than Fernando Torres was, whilst in his prime at Liverpool. Suarez’ overall pass accuracy currently lies at an impressive 75% over 10 games. Suarez’ pass accuracy is up there with some of the Premier League’s leading midfield passers, which is an incredible feat for a striker, even if he tend to play as more of an attacking midfielder.
The statistics show that Fernando Torres in his prime in a Liverpool shirt was a much better finisher than Suarez has been for Liverpool thus far in the current season, however, the overall influence Suarez has on the game exceeds the grip that Torres during his time at Liverpool. Suarez is a much more involved player, a more creative and dynamic forward than Fernando Torres, but is that something of greater importance than finishing?
Fernando Torres turns 29 next year as Luis Suarez turns 26. Many Liverpool fans will feel as though Fernando Torres is well and truly passed his prime, as Luis Suarez is merely entering his. There is no doubt about it, that these two players could have done incredible things for Liverpool had they played in the same line-up, but nevertheless, would you swap Torres in his prime for Luis Suarez in his current form?
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.