Coutinho to Sturridge – Liverpool’s Best Creative Partnership?

Any Liverpool fan you talk to will wax lyrical about the magic of the Coutinho-Sturridge partnership, and how the Brazilian will be setting up chances galore for the England international when he finally returns from injury.

Has this actually been the case regularly in the past though? Everyone remembers fantastic assists from Coutinho to Sturridge against Newcastle, Fulham, Everton and Arsenal, but what’s the chance creation story for their whole time together in the Premier League?

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Liverpool’s Predictable Problems

As Liverpool slumped to their third league defeat in five games, I couldn’t help but notice that three things I had identified as possible concerns regarding the Reds in recent months all seem to be coming to pass at once.

This isn’t a ‘Ha, told you so!’ exercise, but I thought it would be worth re-iterating the points as they seem to lie at the heart of Liverpool’s troubles at the moment, and I’ve tried to look a little deeper to the cause of the issues too. Continue reading

Lallambert vs Suarridge

It’s rare for a club to purchase two players from the same team during one transfer window, yet that is exactly what Liverpool have done by taking Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert from Southampton (and I have previously written about the players at length here and here).

This is good from an amateur analyst’s point of view, as it has enabled me to see how they linked up last season. I looked at the Suárez and Sturridge partnership here, so I thought I’d compare the Liverpool new boys with the Anfield heroes of 2013/14.

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Suárez Goes; What Will Liverpool Need?

Although the news was confirmed today that Luis Suárez will be leaving Liverpool, clearly it has been on the cards for some time. Including penalty wins, the Uruguyan scored (eighty-two) or assisted (fifty-three) a total of 135 goals in 133 appearances for the Reds, at a rate of a goal or assist every 84 minutes. Clearly he will be missed, and not least as Liverpool only had twelve different scorers in the league in 2013/14, the joint-fourth fewest in the division.

Yet Liverpool’s league record without Luis Suárez in the team is surprisingly good. In the 18 league games he has missed since his debut in 2011, the Reds’ record is W11 D3 L4; exactly two points per game, in other words. If they can repeat that form next season then Rodgers’ Reds might start to edge towards becoming CL regulars.

It won’t be that easy to achieve without Suárez though, and here is why.

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2013/14 Review – Part Two

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.

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Suárez Drops Deep. Or Does He?

There seems to be a consensus online that Luis Suárez has not been at his sparkling best in the last few games. A common phrase used to explain this goes along the lines of “he was coming deep to get involved and receive the ball”, with the logic being that he can’t cause havoc near the goal if this keeps happening.

Using Stats Zone, I’ve compiled the figures on where Suárez receives passes, to see if the above phrase is accurate or a lazy cliché, and whether where he gets the ball has any impact upon his attacking contribution.

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Are Liverpool Too Reliant Upon Their Strike Duo?

As I noted in my last post, Liverpool are scoring so many goals that all manner of Premier League records have already gone or are in their sights to be broken. The much fabled Suárez and Sturridge partnership added four to their tally for the season at Cardiff on Saturday, so I thought it would be interesting to see how regularly Liverpool have scored both with and without the duo on the pitch this season.

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Sturridge and Suárez: An Equal Partnership?

Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge continue to score and score and score some more. The duo have scored twenty-five goals in the fifteen league matches they’ve appeared in together this season, with Arsenal the only team to shut out them both out, at the Emirates in November. The Reds have scored every twenty-eight minutes that both of the players have been on the pitch in the league this season; quite simply, they are a phenomenon.

Accusations regarding selfishness follow them around though, both pro and anti; Sturridge most notably could have played Suárez in for an almost certain goal during Liverpool’s 4-0 Merseyside derby win, and Suárez perhaps could have benefitted by being more single-minded in the Reds’ 3-0 victory over Southampton last time out.

But what’s the true picture? Does one snub the other too often? And how creative are they as a partnership?

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Individual Chance Quality

As regular readers will be aware, one of my projects for 2013/14 has been to monitor the quality of chance (based on the area of the pitch that the key pass is received in) at both ends of the pitch for the twenty teams in the Premier League.

Having looked at the individual chance quality stats for the Liverpool squad recently, I thought it would be interesting to do likewise for the top five creative players in the Premier League this season, to see if the leader of the pack in volume terms also creates chances in the best quality areas too.

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West Brom 1 Liverpool 1: Analysis

I wrote in the week how this match represented a golden opportunity for Liverpool to make a giant stride towards a top four finish. Unfortunately they were not able to maximise the potential of this fixture, and so I took a look at the Stats Zone info to see if there were any clues as to why.

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How Many League Goals Can SaS Score?

I must stress immediately that this is in no way an in-depth or robust statistical analysis. However, I ran some numbers on how many goals Suarez and Sturridge might score in the league this season based on their form so far, and as the findings made my mouth water, I figured they were worth sharing.

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Liverpool vs Fulham: Chance Quality Preview

After a match up between two of the Premier League’s best teams for chance quality at the Emirates Stadium last weekend, this week sees teams at opposite ends of the spectrum meet at Anfield, when Fulham visit Liverpool on Saturday afternoon.

Although the Cottagers have been clinical in a couple of areas of the pitch, by and large their chance creation this season (both for and against) has been something of a horror show. The Reds will surely have enough in their armoury to win the match, and the below explains why.

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How Much Is Luis Suárez Worth?

I recently wrote that Gareth Bale is not worth £100m (read more here), and so it seems only fair to run the rule over Liverpool’s Luis Suárez.

John W Henry has made it clear that the Uruguayan will not be allowed to leave easily, but in my opinion if a team were to offer £50m, then Liverpool should probably rip their arms clean off and bid Suárez adieu.

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Creative Concerns?

There is an exclusive Premier League players group, of which Liverpool currently possess two of the fourteen members.

I am referring to men who have played at least one hundred key passes in total across the last two seasons.

The good news for Brendan Rodgers is that in terms of the frequency with which they fashion opportunities, the Reds currently employ two of the top nine. The potentially bad news is that they both look set to leave Liverpool before the end of the summer. Continue reading

Luis Suárez: With Or Without You

This article first appeared on The Tomkins Times on 25th June 2013.

As I sit writing this and you sit reading it, even though those two events are happening at different times, it’s a guarantee that wherever he is right now Luis Suárez will be telling anyone who cares to listen that he loves Liverpool, hates the media, and greatly admires the work of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

In fairness to him, so do I, but then the future of Liverpool FC is not dependent upon whether or not I stick with them; with Suárez, it matters a great deal.

Or does it? I’m sure by now you’ve seen the statistics for when Liverpool have had Suárez in the team in the Premier League compared to when they haven’t, but for the record:

ImageThere we are then; Liverpool are better off without Suárez, to the tune of over half a point per game. Case closed.

In reality though, thirteen games is far too small a sample to make a conclusive judgment on whether or not Liverpool will be a better team if Suárez leaves, so I have decided to dig a little deeper, and look at the key match stats that Luis affects.

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The Good Side Of Luis Suárez

Now that Luis Suárez’ season is almost certainly over, and the world and his wife are lining up to denounce him from all angles, I thought I’d take a look at how he has improved statistically this season.

The headline statistic is twenty-three league goals scored instead of eleven, and thirty goals in all competitions, to become only the second Liverpool player (after Fernando Torres in his debut season) to reach the mark since Robbie Fowler did so in 1995/96.

But how exactly has Suárez doubled his goalscoring productivity in the league in only a few extra games?

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Shot Placement: A Look At Michu, Cisse and Suárez

I read a very interesting article by Ben Pugsley (who you can follow on Twitter here) which looked at the scoring percentage and shooting efficiency of the top ten strikers in the Premier League this season.

I thought I’d use the shot placement data from EPLIndex to see if it could explain a couple of points in the article, as well as digging into the improved goal scoring record of Luis Suárez whilst I was at it.

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How Does Suárez Compare To Other Liverpool Top Scorers?

Often after an impressive Liverpool win, I post the stats from the match and the season as a whole, to demonstrate how well the Reds performed. However, as Luis Suárez became only the third Liverpool player to bag twenty goals in one season in the Premier League era with his hattrick against Wigan, I thought I’d take a closer look at how his record matches up to the club’s top scorers from seasons past.

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