In the last few weeks, Liverpool fans have been treated to several fine attacking displays from Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, but how well have they really done?
The duo joined the Merseyside outfit in the January transfer window for a combined fee of £20.5 million.
Initially, there were a few concerns over Sturridge’s arrogance and greediness in front of goal, but the 23-year-old has gone a long way to prove his doubters wrong in his 13 appearances for the club in the Premier League since joining.
While some aspect of his greediness (widely regarded as a must-have trait for a top striker) remains – as seen against Fulham last week, Sturridge looks a totally different beast to the one seen at Chelsea and Manchester City not so long ago.
The front man has created 30 chances in his 1,092 minutes on the pitch working out to about a chance every 36 minutes, with three of those chances coming as assists against Swansea, Chelsea and Newcastle. As a comparison Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud creates a chance every 68 minutes, while Robin Van Persie creates one every 45 minutes.
Admittedly, those two strikers have played almost double the minutes as Sturridge, but it does show that the former Chelsea striker is more of a team player than many thought.
My personal opinion is that circumstances at Stamford Bridge forced him to try the spectacular every time in order to earn a regular berth in the starting line-up.
Last season, playing under Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo, Sturridge created 25 chances all season, three of those assists. That works out to about a chance every 91 minutes, way worse than his current output in a red shirt. In terms of goalscoring form, Sturridge’s hat-trick, his first ever in senior football, in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Fulham took his tally this season to 10 goals in 13 appearances. For Chelsea last season, the 23-year-old netted 11 times in 30 appearances.
[quote]The outstanding statistic for Daniel Sturridge this season (whilst at Liverpool) is that he’s been involved in a goal every 84 minutes (goal or assist) which is second only to beats Javier Hernandez’s figure for Manchester United in the Premier League.[/quote]
The other half of this partnership, Philippe Coutinho, came to Merseyside under similar circumstances as his fellow January signing. The Brazilian had returned to Inter, from a loan at Espanyol last season, uncertain of his role under manager Andrea Stramaccioni and was struggling to get playing time under the young manager.
He joined at a time when many a Liverpool fan were clamouring for Wesley Sneijder, also at Inter at the time, to join the Reds. Many believed it would be hard for the 20-year-old to make a similar impact to that of the veteran Dutchman.
However, it is safe to say the Anfield outfit got the right Internazionale midfielder. Coutinho has come in and immediately become a fan favourite with his silky skills and fantastic ability to pick out a pass. Let’s not forget those magnificent through balls.
Coutinho has made 11 appearances for the Reds, joining towards the end of the January transfer window, and has been at the heart of all Liverpool attacks.
The number 10 has created 20 chances in his short spell at Anfield, including five assists. That equates to a chance created every 47 minutes, compared to a chance every 87 minutes during his 16 appearances at Espanyol last season (take a look at his pre-Liverpool stats here).
[quote]The impressive statistic for Coutinho so far is that he’s creating a clear-cut opportunity for his team mates every 104 minutes. So almost one per game that his colleagues should despatch – although Coutinho’s only played 932 minutes this season that frequency is the best in the Premier League this season.[/quote]
In La Liga last season, playing under current Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino, Coutinho scored five goals and assisted just a single one. Under Brendan Rodgers this season, he’s scored only two, but has more than doubled his assists with two fantastic goalscorers in Sturridge and Luis Suarez in front of him.
There were also some concerns about Coutinho’s physicality and how he would deal with the brutish defenders in the Premier League, but he has surprised fans with his willingness to get stuck in on the defensive end and fight hard to win the ball off defenders (Incidents against Hatem Ben Arfa and Mathieu Debuchy come to mind).
In terms of tackles, the Brazilian has attempted 16 tackles since joining, winning 12 (75%) of them thus far. He has attempted 103 ground duels (50-50), one every eight minutes, but has won only 42 of those (the majority of these are failed dribble attempts rather than tackling duels). In addition to these stats he’s also winning possession back for Liverpool every 16 minutes. The last stat indicates his willingness to work hard and press the opposition which he has done remarkably well.
An area where it’s not surprising to see Coutinho struggle is in the air. The little man does try to win the ball in the air, 19 attempts, but he has only won two aerial duels, but coming up against the likes of Marouanne Fellaini and the like he never stood a chance.
I know most Liverpool fans were worried how the team would cope without top-scorer Luis Suarez, serving his ten-match ban for biting, in the side.
While I would not think of selling the Uruguayan this summer, the more I watch the combination of Sturridge and Coutinho, the more I think that we are just fine without Suarez in the side, dare I say; better?
[box_light]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.[/box_light]