With Liverpool seemingly on the verge of signing Queens Park Rangers striker Loic Remy, I thought it would be prudent to analyse what the Frenchman could bring to Liverpool Football Club that would be different or better than some of the other options at the club’s disposal from last season and the approaching term ahead.
Wilfried Bony has been linked to the Reds in recent weeks but with interest now cooling we’ll look to discover whether or not the Reds have made the right choice. The loss of Luis Suarez is certainly not going to be replaced completely by Loic Remy but we’ll look to see how much of that he can absorb himself whilst operating in tandem with the, now, main man Daniel Sturridge. Hopefully what we will see is a difference in statistics that will show that Remy and Sturridge can play together or separately whilst covering a broad base of abilities and circumstances – giving Liverpool the best chance to succeed in the coming season.
Before we go on to talk about the main topic in this section let us first look at the minutes played and games played figures. As you can see above, Remy has the weakest statistics when it comes to minutes played and appearances made. This can be partly explained by the Frenchman’s 3 match suspension after being sent off against Norwich City on 28th January 2014. This reflects poorly on the Frenchman however, with less time on the field meaning his figures have had a better opportunity at being higher than his counterparts – the more time Suarez spends on the field, the harder it is to continue keeping his performances high. This means Remy has a slight advantage with all of these statistics.
Now Barcelona forward Luis Suarez is completely dominant in this first section as he tops all four topics. Suarez’s 5.50 shots per 90 minutes suggests a player who will shoot from just about anywhere whenever he receives the ball, although the other three players in this comparison are not that far behind with each player shooting just under four times per 90 mins, on average. This suggests that each of these players was very confident last season which is the first thing necessary of a good goalscorer. However, shooting blindly is not enough for a striker representing a top Premier League team – you need to work the ‘keeper. Luis Suarez was truly awful at this during his first season and a half with Liverpool under former manager Kenny Dalglish but his shooting accuracy and shot decision making increased in efficiency once Brendan Rodgers took over going on to score 23 league goals that season, which shows us how important it is to hit the target rather than shoot from non-profitable positions on the field. Each player in this comparison does well in terms of hitting the target with the lowest figure coming from Wilfried Bony on 44% – still a competitive figure. The identical results of 49% for Sturridge and Remy should be encouraging for Liverpool supporters.
Another way to ensure you score a lot of goals is to work the ball into the correct positions to score goals. Arsenal have been the masters of this for many years. The Gunners often refuse to shoot from outside the box or wide of the goal unless it is absolutely necessary, instead they choose to work the ball into a central area inside the penalty box (around the penalty spot) which is where the best chance conversion rate is acquired. This is something that coaches should look at before signing goalscoring players because shooting from acute angles is simply a waste of possession and territory as the ball often flies off target or into the arms of a steadily positioned goalkeeper. Squawka’s comparison matrix suggests that all of these players take more shots from inside the area than outside it, which is a good thing.
Another encouraging aspect to look at here is that each of these striker’s is willing to shoot from outside the box. Obviously, as stated before, you are much more likely to score from inside the area than outside it but a willingness to shoot from distance is another weapon to a team’s arsenal – it can keep defenders guessing about what you’re about to do next and can confuse them into closing down when they should back away or vice versa. Something Rodgers values is versatility and versatile shooting is always valuable.
The fact that Luis Suarez dominates this category proves what a special and dangerous player he is. He completely outshines the other three strikers but Red fans should be encouraged by Loic Remy’s figures here despite his slightly lower game time. The most encouraging factor is the shot accuracy which means the Frenchman is not wasteful and should therefore thrive on service from Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana – not to mention the set piece service from Captain Steven Gerrard.
Goals are ultimately what a striker is judged on which means this section could be seen as the most important to many. Here we’ll be able to see how often these four strikers score and how they score their goals. Suarez, the Premier League’s top goalscorer last season, is of course on top with a scintillating 0.94 goals per 90 minutes played. Sturridge, being the second top goalscorer, is not far behind whilst Remy is marginally better than Bony. Scoring in six out of ten games is pretty good going for a striker and is just better than one goal in every two which is exactly what Liverpool need to compliment the prolific Sturridge.
Bony is quite clearly the most prolific in the air with 0.18 headed goals per game but Sturridge remains strong in this department despite comments from the player stating he needed to improve his heading more than anything else – these figures would suggest the England international should concentrate on improving his right footed technique with just 0.08 right footed goals per game (that’s just two right footed goals all season) whereas Suarez excelled on his weaker side with 0.24 goals scored with his left foot per 90 minutes (translating to eight left footed goals in the Premier League). Remy’s weaker side is more prolific than Sturridge’s with 0.13 goals scored per 90 minutes using his left foot whereas Bony is just as weak as Liverpool’s number 15 with just 0.07 goals scored with his left foot per 90 minutes.
These statistics are extremely useful for telling us what a player can and cannot do at a glance – in terms of finishing power, anyway. In a nutshell, Sturridge needs to improve his right foot when it comes to composure or technique, perhaps his left footed balance could be improved too. Remy is also a more balanced player for Liverpool because he is more comfortable on either side than the more expensive Wilfried Bony although the Ivorian’s aerial prowess would have been a useful plan B for the Reds.
Passing and Creativity
This section again shows what a special player Liverpool are losing by highlighting just how creative Suarez was when he was simply passing and not shooting. Suarez is top for assists, chances created and key passes per 90 minutes played. Couple these figures with his goalscoring exploits and it’s simply impossible for Liverpool not to miss him – unless they plug up some of the defensive holes and therefore require less goals.
Here, Remy is the least creative in terms of assists per 90 minutes, however, the chances created row is much more important as it seems Remy was creating chances for his teammates but they were simply not being finished by his colleagues. At Liverpool, Remy will be creating for Sturridge, Sterling and Coutinho instead of a misfiring Papiss Cisse and Shola Amoebi which should see his assists column bulk up a bit. Remy is actually very competitive at creating chances for his fellow players with 1.29 created per 90 minutes played, on average. This is higher than Sturridge and Bony despite Sturridge playing alongside the league’s top goalscorer and second highest goalscoring team.
The Frenchman also excels at completing key passes in the opposition’s defensive third with figures above both Bony and Sturridge which suggests a composed player who can accommodate teammates with unselfish play. Remy also posts a higher average passing accuracy which is something Brendan Rodgers will like – especially if he can maintain that accuracy whilst high up the field.
Although Remy only “wins” one of these categories, he competes well and his ability to best Daniel Sturridge in a couple of these departments suggests Liverpool are gaining a competent creator for a nominal fee.
One vs One
Something Liverpool could certainly improve on from last season is their toughness – especially aerially. This is not to say that Liverpool were physically brittle last season but a little bit more steel could certainly go a long way to helping the Reds go up another gear. Both Bony and Remy represent tough, strong attacking talents to go alongside the determined Sterling, Sturridge, Coutinho and Henderson. Although Liverpool are far from a long ball side they could certainly use a striker who has the ability to win his aerial duels regularly – and both Remy and Bony can do this. Bony shades the aerial duels win percentage with over 42% compared to Remy’s 38%, however, even Remy’s 38% is a big improvement on Suarez and Sturridge from last season who won 25.39% and 17.5% respectively. This would also give Rodgers another tactical string to his bow with aerial crossing now a viable option with Lambert also there to be thrown into the mix – although he himself is far from a battering ram number nine.
Something the Liverpool system needs is players who can take on and beat a man and Remy would be another great addition to Liverpool’s squad in this regard – far better than Bony. On average, Remy takes on nearly as many opposing players as Sturridge per 90 minutes, but the deficit to Suarez is quite substantial with Suarez taking on almost three defenders per 90. The winning of 50/50 duels is also something Rodgers will need more of next season and Remy does well in this category with over 43% of his duels resulting in him winning the ball. Sturridge and Bony are ahead but Bony’s ability in the air may skew this a little as most of his successful duels will come from aerial battles.
Interceptions are something else any team could do with, especially from attackers who can use their intelligence to win the ball high up the field – see Suarez’s goal vs Everton at Anfield to see how effective these interceptions can be. Each of the four players in question are under one interception per 180 minutes played but that’s still enough to break a potentially stubborn defence if the ball is won in the right kind of area. With Liverpool’s excellent pressing from last season potentially going up another level this coming season, both Remy and Sturridge could improve those low interceptions per 90 statistics.
Suarez is quite obviously going to be a massive miss for Liverpool this season – but every single club in the world would miss his goals and creativity. With the signing of Loic Remy to be completed in the next few days, I believe the Frenchman will be a valuable signing for the Reds especially due to the fact that many of his statistics are around Sturridge’s level from last season. With a motivated team (unlike Newcastle after February) and Champions League football on the table I believe Remy will excel with creative forces such as Sterling, Coutinho and Gerrard feeding him. The former Marseille man should also get a lot of game time with the Reds fighting on four fronts and Sturridge expected to pick up a niggle or two over the course of a full, gruelling season. At £8.5m, I don’t see how this signing can go wrong.
Stats via the amazing Squawka Comparison Matrix