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.
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:
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.
Jonjo Shelvey had a very impressive shooting accuracy of 56% this season, the joint 16th best in the Premier League (for players attempting twenty-five shots or more), and comfortably above the total divisional average of 33.2%.
Yet he only scored one goal (away at West Ham United), and even that was only given to him after the infamous Dubious Goals Panel decided that it was not an own goal as it was originally deemed. As WhoScored recently tweeted:
Jonjo Shelvey: Had a conversion rate of 2.9% this season – better than only 7 of the Premier League’s 257 goalscorers in 2012/13
Shouldn’t he have scored more with such a good level of shooting accuracy? He took 59% of his shots in the box, so it wasn’t entirely a case of wasting his time with pot shots from distance. It turns out our old friend ‘shot placement‘ helps to explain where he was going wrong.
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.
I have written previously for The Tomkins Times on how Liverpool’s poor shot placement is the major reason behind the poor scoring record this season. During yesterday’s 3-0 win over Norwich City at Carrow Road, we saw exactly what difference better shot placement can make.
To recap my earlier piece, Liverpool have been hitting too high a proportion of their shots to the low-centre of the goal. As the goalkeeper is usually stood in that area, shooting there makes the chances of a goal being scored so much lower than in if the ball is put in the corners. Obvious perhaps, but proven in the above piece using four seasons worth of Premier League data.
All three of Luis Suárez’ strikes against the Canaries were put into the corners of the goal:
Considering the distance that they were all from, which was far from point-blank even for the first two goals, that’s impressive. Even the Reds’ other shots-on-target, which were both by the much-maligned Stewart Downing, were placed towards the corner of the goal:
The really interesting thing about yesterday’s match for me was that, in terms of overall performance, it was no better than has been seen in many of Liverpool’s games this season; it just had the addition of massively improved finishing which made all the difference.
To prove how much difference the quality of shooting made, I compared some of the other match statistics from yesterday’s match with those in the twelve league games that the Reds have lost this season, and it makes for very interesting reading.
Liverpool’s performance against Norwich City featured:
- A worse shots-on-target ratio than in seven of their twelve defeats;
- Fewer shots-on-target than occurred in five losses;
- Less ball possession than in seven of the league matches that Liverpool have lost;
- A lower passing accuracy percentage than was posted in seven defeats; and perhaps the most important of all:
- Liverpool created less chances against Norwich City than in nine of their twelve defeats.
Let me reiterate that: Liverpool created more chances in 75% of their league defeats than they did in their latest 3-0 win. If ever you want a simple statistic to prove how important shot placement is, that may will be it.
More of the same at Wembley next Saturday evening please Reds!
I recently wrote a detailed article for The Tomkins Times (which you can read here) which looked at how important shot placement is, and whether poor form in this discipline is at the root of Liverpool’s low scoring record in the league this season.
The findings suggested that it has been, and that Liverpool have placed too many shots in the low-centre of the goal where the goalkeeper has a better than average chance of making a save.
I was reminded of the above article by Steven Gerrard’s three goals in the Merseyside derby last night; all of which appeared to have been hit into the upper half of the goal.
I checked the stats to investigate this further, and firstly found that the captain had placed all four of his shots during the match on target, which in itself is largely unheard of by a Liverpool player this season.
One of Gerrard’s shots went to the low-right of the goal, and the other three (which were all scored) into the high-centre. To give the importance of that shot placing some context, Liverpool had only scored two league goals in the high-centre sector all season prior to last night, so Gerrard more than doubled that tally on his own against the Toffees. As Rafa Benitez said in 2008:
“Stevie is a great finisher and can score great goals, so maybe he can play as a striker. When he is older and does not have the same pace, he will still have the accuracy and he can still be a great finisher”.
Based on last night’s showing, the Spaniard certainly had a point. It’s now up to Kenny to keep the captain fit and get him charging into the box with the regularity of old. The evidence from last night suggests that Gerrard can take care of the rest from there just fine.