As I was lucky enough to attend the second leg of the League Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Chelsea, I thought I’d post a few thoughts on the match, the tie overall, and of course throw in a few stats.
After Lucas Leiva made a very impressive eight tackles, four interceptions and twelve ball recoveries in Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Leicester City, there was lots of online chatter from Kopites suggesting that the Brazilian might finally be returning to something like his best form, which occurred prior to his anterior cruciate ligament injury in 2011.
Tweets like this one were soon doing the rounds after the match:
I’m always wary of reading too much into with/without stats, as there are so many other factors to consider, and the above tweet only covers this season so is a very small sample. Looking at Liverpool’s league form since 2009/10 though, it’s impossible to deny that the team has performed a lot better on the whole when Lucas has played.
There was a lot of online bemusement regarding the selection of Lucas Leiva to face Southampton in the opening match of the season on Sunday, so I thought I’d take a quick look at his stats to see how he performed and what the trends are, particularly with regards to his tackling.
Liverpool are currently heavily linked with a move for Bayer Leverkusen’s twenty year old German midfielder Emre Can. A quick glance at his stats on WhoScored revealed a very similar level of output to Lucas Leiva, and as the Brazilian is currently the Reds’ last choice midfielder, it seems logical to me that Can may be his replacement. I have therefore taken a closer look at the figures to see how they compare.
As a Liverpool fan, I get caught up in lots of online debate about whether Lucas Leiva is a good defensive midfielder or not.
This post is not my attempt to answer that question, but rather a look at what constitutes a tackle won or a tackle lost, because this is one aspect of the Lucas debate that regularly gets brought up, as he attempts more tackles than any other player in the Premier League.
In my opinion people who use the figures don’t always understand what they actually mean in terms of football statistics (and I’ll happily admit I have been guilty of this myself in the past), so I think it’s important to try to clear it up from a general football analytics point of view; this post raises further questions, so certainly shouldn’t be viewed as definitive.
After my first attempt at analysing a match via Stats Zone two weeks ago, I’ve again taken to the app to cast my critical eye over Liverpool’s 2-2 draw away at Swansea City.
Although I am happy enough with a point, as it maintains the Reds’ five point advantage over their corresponding fixtures from last season, there were many areas of the performance that left a lot to be desired.
Following the latest international break, Liverpool resume Premier League action with a match against newly-promoted Reading at home tomorrow, and the Reds really need a win.
A painful statistic doing the rounds is that both Arsenal and Liverpool have won two league games at Anfield in 2012, and Brendan Rodgers needs the Reds to move onto three home victories sooner rather than later if the pressure on him is not going to start becoming unbearable.
However, using EPLIndex’s excellent ‘Top Stats’ function, I have looked at how certain members of the Liverpool squad are performing, and whilst the team as a whole may not have hit the heights as yet under Rodgers, the stats suggest that a number of players are in fact doing really well individually.
Liverpool concluded their pre-season preparations for the 2012/13 campaign with a 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen at Anfield on Sunday. Whilst I missed the game myself, I saw some very interesting and encouraging post-match tweets from @AnfieldIndex:
LFC Vs Leverkusen Total Passes: Total: 613 Accurate: 549 Accuracy: 89.56%
Comparing the above stats with Liverpool’s figures from last season illustrates how much more of the ball they’re now having.
I saw an interesting tweet from WhoScored in relation to Joe Allen of Swansea City, who is a transfer target of Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool:
Joe Allen: Only Yohan Cabaye (117) and Moussa Dembele (112) made more tackles in the Premier League this season than Allen (110)
That’s certainly impressive, not least for a young player from the previous season’s play-off winners. But the above numbers got me wondering about how Lucas Leiva compares, in his role as the defensive lynchpin of the Reds midfield.
Has there ever been a more confusing season for fans of Liverpool FC than this one? The match statistics have generally been positive, performances mixed, and results all over the place, so every fan you ask has differing views on whether Dalglish deserved to have his contract terminated.
I will be presenting the numbers for different aspects of play, to try to establish who has performed well in which areas, and how the team as a whole performed in 2011/12. I’m sure you will have read quite a few of these stats before, but this is an attempt to flesh out the story of the season through all of the numbers available. To start, some interesting stats about the season as a whole: Continue reading
This piece first appeared on The Tomkins Times on March 15th 2012, and the stats included are correct up to and including the match away at Sunderland on March 10th.
After a series of poor league results, including three defeats in a row for the first time in nearly a decade, stern questions are being asked of Kenny and his team’s management of Liverpool, probably for the first time; were the most suitable players purchased in the summer, have the tactics been right, and so on.
Things have been so bad lately that Dalglish’s recent league form has matched that of his predecessor’s; Roy Hodgson recorded an average of 1.25 points-per-game at Liverpool, and the Reds have the same figure from their previous sixteen matches this season too (though as the first eleven games this term yielded 1.73 points-per-game, things haven’t reached Hodgson-esque levels overall just yet).
I wrote a brief piece for EPLIndex recently which demonstrated that only on very few occasions this season have Liverpool been bested by their opponents at various match statistics, illustrating that, even if the results haven’t always been quite what is desired, at least the performances have generally been good.
But there was no comparison to other teams in that article, so whilst the numbers were good, were they any better or worse than anyone else, or what had come before at Liverpool?
Following the sad news that Lucas Leiva will miss the remainder of the season after sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury in Liverpool’s recent Carling Cup quarter-final victory at Chelsea, Kenny Dalglish faces an enormous dilemma: just who can fill the current player-of-the-year’s boots?
Perhaps a replacement will be drafted in during the forthcoming transfer window, but before that can happen the Reds have six league games to negotiate in December, and that’s before you consider a triple-header with Manchester City in January.
Whilst some might opt for Jordan Henderson as the temporary replacement for Lucas, my money would be on Jay Spearing. I’ll be honest and admit I was never that convinced by the young scouser during his early appearances for the team, though he changed my mind on that front over the closing months of last season. But how do his stats from last season compare to Lucas’ for this campaign?
Here’s an old piece that seems very relevant in view of a tweet from WhoScored today:
In his first game back after injury, @LucasLeiva87 made more forward passes (45) in a PL game than any player has this season
Welcome back, Lucas!