In part one of my review of Liverpool’s remarkable 2013/14 campaign (which you can read here), I covered the form of Aly Cissokho, Liverpool’s shot conversion rates, the Reds’ record in league matches following defeats, their results using different formations, and Brendan Rodgers’ league record against the top and bottom halves of the table.
In this part, I’ll review Suárez and Sturridge’s goal scoring rate, a new scoring record that Liverpool set in 2013/14, the Reds’ form across calendar years, which player created the best goalscoring chances most often, and how Rodgers’ team performed in each half of their matches. As with part one, I will post links to the original articles, an explanation of what they are about, and then updated stats and analysis.
How Many League Goals Can SaS Score? Written in November, when Sturridge and Suárez had bagged eighteen league goals, I speculated on how many they might score in total.
I think I should quote directly from the article:
If you ask me, they should be capable of fifty league goals between them in total this season, and that’s currently the worst case scenario using this simple system.
They finished with fifty-two, so perhaps ‘worst case’ was in fact the ‘realistic’ scenario, as the flaws in the (self-confessed) simple system were exposed. At the time of writing the piece Suárez had converted 22.5% of his shots, and Sturridge 22.0%. How did they finish the season?
Both players experienced a slight dip after the article was written, though equally they still managed to post their best figures for the club so far. One element of the article was definitely correct though; I predicted that they would become Liverpool’s top scoring duo in the (thirty-eight game) Premier League era, and they managed it comfortably.
Not only that, but the pair became the first forward duo to break fifty league goals for Liverpool since the mighty Roger Hunt and Ian St John did so in 1963-64. Luis Suárez scored more goals on his own than the top scoring Liverpool twosomes did in fourteen of the previous eighteen seasons, which is quite simply a remarkable achievement.
Goals (Short and Long Term) A look Liverpool’s scoring record over their previous thirty-eight league games, and ahead of trips to Spurs, Manchester City and Chelsea, a look at Liverpool’s away form under Brendan Rodgers.
In the original piece I noted that Liverpool had scored eighty-six goals in their previous thirty-eight league matches, and of course they finished the season with 101 (mostly ‘great’) goals. Did they peak any higher than that over a thirty-eight league game period?
Indeed they did. In the seasons worth of matches that began with a 6-0 win at St. James Park in April 2013 and concluded with the fantastic 3-2 home win over Manchester City, Liverpool scored 103 league goals, which was a new top flight record for the club over a period of this length.
The article also noted that Rodgers’ away league record with Liverpool wasn’t spectacular, averaging 1.42 points per game since he took charge of the club, which was 0.58 fewer than the best team over the period, Manchester United. How did the rest of the season affect things?
Over the remainder of the season, The Reds racked up 2.17 points per game on the road, which was the second most in the division, meaning that they closed the gap on the leaders of the above table to 0.31 points per game. More importantly for the season itself, Liverpool finished the campaign with the best away record in the Premier League. Impressive stuff.
2012 and 2013: Chalk and Cheese My final piece of 2013 looked at how much Liverpool had improved over the last twelve months.
This isn’t worthy of enormous further analysis, except to point out the following.
Whilst a team’s form across a calendar year ultimately means nothing in trophy or league placing terms, the fact that Liverpool have already won more points this year than in the whole of 2012, despite playing twenty games fewer, is a fantastic indicator of how much progress the Reds have made under Brendan Rodgers in the last eighteen months or so. Anyone who thinks that Liverpool choked last season needs to consider the enormity of the form required to even reach the position to do so in the first place.
Liverpool’s Chance Champion Using my own chance quality system, I assessed which Reds create the best goalscoring opportunities.
As always when I discuss chance quality on here, a reminder of what areas of the pitch I use for the assessment.
In the original article, which was written in early January, the top three for ‘minutes per CBO’ were Suárez (with one every 96 minutes), Aspas (120) and Enrique (121). Let’s see how the rest of the campaign changed things.
It would be tempting to look at the figures and think “oh, Suárez merely maintained his CBO creativity rate”, but in truth that’s no mean feat; he had played less than half of his season’s total of minutes when the original piece was written. We have seen above how his shot conversion rate dipped as the season progressed, but the quality of chance he was creating certainly did not.
Leaving aside the small samples of Enrique, Aspas and Moses, Raheem Sterling deserves a lot of credit for creating more CBOs than Coutinho did, as nobody would’ve expected that at the start of 2012/13. The fact that the England international had only created one such chance up to the ill-fated Hull away game demonstrates just what a creative asset he has been in the months since.
When the original piece was published in January, Liverpool had the sixth best second half goal difference in the division. Did this improve by the end of the season? The teams are sorted below by goal difference, and the number in brackets after the team name is their final position in the actual league table.
No, the Reds remained in the same place, albeit they pulled away from Spurs who shared an equal goal difference at the time of the article. Still, it didn’t matter too much in the original piece, as Liverpool had the best first half record in the league….
They finished the season that way, and increased their lead over Manchester City from two to seven. Of course, it sadly wasn’t enough to get the Reds over the title finish line, but it’s clear that their poor record in the second halves didn’t matter so much when they tended to fly out of the traps in the opening forty-five minutes.
That’s all for the second part of the round up, there will be some more to come shortly. Don’t forget to check out my articles on Liverpool’s transfer targets.