For any Liverpool fan obsessed with statistics about players or the club, I fully recommend visiting Anfield Index who utilise Opta Index stats. Comparing some of the Premier League’s top left backs, one of the shocking things is that Gael Clichy comes out favourably in terms of his defensive stats but is surprisingly poor in the offensive third.
Myth 1) Gael Clichy Cannot Defend – Looking at the stats, it is apparent that Clichy gets an unfair press for his defensive frailties. On 50/50 challenges, he wins 58% of a total of 351 challenges while Everton ’s Leighton Baines is at 55% and Newcastle’s Jose Enrique is at 51%. In regards to total tackles, Clichy made 50 more than Enrique and 27 more than Baines with a favourable success percentage of 81% to Enrique’s 84% and Baines 74%. On aerial challenges too, Clichy attempted 111 compared to just 44 by Enrique and 43 by Baines and winning just over half at 51%, a better percentage than Enrique (32%) but less than Baines at 63%, although the number of aerial challenges attempted means Clichy won more in total.
Myth 2) Gael Clichy makes too many crucial mistakes – A very simple stat that shows that Clichy is equal to both Enrique and Baines. Clichy made one defensive error that led to a goal last season, according to Opta Stats, while Leighton Baines made 2 and Jose Enrique made 1.
Myth 3) Gael Clichy creates chances going forward – Bizarrely, considering how Clichy is perceived as an offensive full back, his chance creation stats don’t reflect too favourably compared to Baines’ and Enrique’s. Over the course of last season, Clichy only created 21 goal scoring opportunities while Baines managed to create a staggering 74 (although the figure is skewed by the fact he is a set piece taker), with Enrique creating a solid 30.
In regards to dribbling, Clichy made 21 successful dribbles compared to 26 by Baines, but they are both overshadowed by Enrique’s 65 over the course of last season.
In the attacking third, crossing is also an important factor and Clichy does pretty poorly in these stats too (although it must be said Arsenal don’t cross the ball that often). The French full back only made 15 accurate crosses out of 88 attempted, while Baines completed 100 out of 351 attempts, making him 10% more likely to deliver a killer ball. Enrique had 31 accurate crosses out of 132 attempted.
Of course stats can’t tell us everything but if Liverpool are working under a Moneyball Strategy model, they may look at these stats, and think to themselves that both Clichy and Baines maybe worth looking at for opposite reasons; the Everton defender for an attacking minded option and Clichy for his defensive talent.