With the absence of LFC midfielder Lucas Leiva, who has been announced out for the remainder of the season, Liverpool have but only a few options to turn to for a replacement. Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, and Jay Spearing are all names that are being thrown around in the mix to take over that CDM role that Lucas ran so well. With the absence of Steven Gerrard and the inability to recall Alberto Aquilani, LFC have a decision to make: Do they start Jay Spearing or Jordan Henderson?
Let’s begin looking at these two players with their games started, clean sheets, and goal conceded figures. Jay Spearing has started one more game than Henderson (albeit last season), but has played in two total less games because of the amount of times Henderson has been brought on thus far this campaign. In two less games for Spearing, he has conceded the exact same amount of goals and has helped record two more clean sheets.
When it comes to the defensive aspect of midfield, Jay Spearing seems to dominate like we need, completing 61% of his ground duels and 36% of his aerial duels, compared to Henderson’s two 29% figures respectively. Obviously, neither one can come close to Lucas’s 63% ground win and 53% aerial win but Spearing is as close as it can be.
Tackling is arguably the biggest part LFC will miss without Lucas, as he showed numerous times that he is up for the task against the big guns like Manchester City and Chelsea. Jay Spearing tackled 19 out of 28 times successfully, or completing nearly 68% of his tackles. Henderson tackles much less, but when he does he appears to be successful, tackling successfully 7 out of 9 times or completely nearly 79% of his tackles. Lucas’s 53 successful tackles out of 68 attempted will be a big shoe to fill, but Spearing again gets the advantage.
Moving on to the other defensive aspects of the game quickly, Jay Spearing yet again has the advantage, intercepting the ball 17 times to Jordan Henderson’s 10. Henderson has the advantage in dribbles past however, 8 to 5. A massive figure to look at though is the loss of possession stat. Jay Spearing only lost the ball 9 times in possession, while Jordan Henderson had a much more common loss of possession, 15 times.
Passing is a solid aspect of Lucas’s game that will also need to be made up. Lucas completed 85% of his passing, sending 60% of the passes forward. Jordan Henderson fails to impress in this aspect, completed nearly 76% of his passes, but sending only 40% of those passes forwards, and 24% backwards. Jay Spearing however, completed nearly 79% of his passes sending the ball forward 54% of the time and backwards only 14% of the time. Again, Spearing with the advantage.
The attacking play is the only area where Jordan Henderson has an advantage, creating more chances than Spearing, but still falling to Lucas’s 11 created. Henderson has a better goal number (1) than the other two, with better shot accuracy and better chance conversion, showing that he is more of an attacking player than not.
Overall, each player has their own benefit. Comparing them to Lucas though, Jay Spearing has the clear advantage to take over the role of CDM. Comparing Spearing in 2010/11 with Jordan Henderson in 2011/12, Jay Spearing puts up the more impressive numbers. He has an advantage in Clean Sheets, 50-50’s (both ground and aerial), Interceptions, Successful Tackles, and in all passing aspects of the game. The only advantage in which Henderson has is the attacking aspects (i.e., chances created, goals scored, etc.) and Successful Passing Percentage. Therefore, according to the numbers, Jay Spearing is the right man to become Lucas’s much needed replacement.
(Editors note: Look at the sheer number of ground and aerial duels in the table above by Lucas. It’s just an unbelievable number which will leave a big gap in the Liverpool side in our opinion).
[…] From EPLIndex.com, a site dedicated to the statistical analysis of the Premier League, my piece from 2011 on who should replace the then-injured Lucas Leiva for Liverpool FC: Spearing v Henderson | Which one? […]