Long-term readers will know that I like to collate which players link up to create chances for Liverpool. This season, I thought it would be interesting to also look at what type of chances they create. Before we get to that though, here’s a look at what the conversion rates are for different types of pass in the Premier League across the last six full seasons. The data is from WhoScored, and the pass types are sorted by subsequent shot conversion rate.
To clarify, this shows the percentage of shots that are scored, not the percentage of each pass type in total which results in a goal.
There’s a clear winner here, and when you look at the options available, it’s no surprise that it’s through balls that top the chart. To qualify as one of these passes in the eyes of Opta, it has to be “a pass splitting the defence for a team-mate to run on to”; if you receive one of those, you obviously should have a decent chance of scoring.
So who has created and received through ball chances in the league for Liverpool this season? Which games have they been in?
There are not too many surprises here to be honest. The Brazilian players lead the way in the creation stakes (with Lucas perhaps surprisingly up there too), and there’s no surprise who has received the most of these chances; Daniel Sturridge shows how important pace and movement up front are, by receiving four through balls and then getting away a shot at goal.
It’s also no surprise that Liverpool’s best performance for creating via through balls was at the Etihad in their best match overall this season. The fact that City allowed plenty of space for the Reds obviously helped here too.
The only criticism I can make of Liverpool here won’t surprise you; they perhaps should have scored more goals. Only two of the thirteen through balls so far this season have been converted: Milner set up Sturridge for a goal against Aston Villa, and Firmino played in Coutinho in the aforementioned match at Manchester City.
To really emphasis Sturridge’s value in this area, I’ll finish with a look at how often each player has been involved in a through ball chance this season.
Daniel Sturridge has been involved in a chance creating through ball almost 3.5 times as often as his nearest challenger. It’s surprising to see Coutinho so far down the list, but I’m sure if Sturridge could get on the pitch more then the creative maestro’s figures would improve.
None of us know how often Sturridge will play for Liverpool in the future, but the figures here show that if we want the Reds to create good chances, we’d all like it to be as often as possible.