Statistics are becoming more important than ever in the world of football and particularly here in the Premier League.
Indeed, the vast majority of English clubs adopted statistical analysis some time ago, applying it to tactics, recruitment strategies, training sessions and virtually every other aspect of the modern game.
Likewise, we saw data provided by Sports Interactive, the creators of everybody’s favourite PC game Football Manager, used as part of Sky Sports’ and BBC Sport’s coverage of the transfer window for the first time during the summer; whilst the popularity of websites such as Whoscored and Squawka (both used heavily throughout this article) have reached an unprecedented high.
So with seven games of the new Premier League season already somehow gone, we at Football Fancast have decided to delve through Liverpool’s statistics for the 2015/16 campaign.
After hours of trawling online, we discovered FIVE rather surprising stats. So read up and impress your Liverpool-supporting mates with your new-found statistical knowledge…
Tough-tackling Brazilian Lucas Leiva tends to divide opinion at Anfield. Some view him as below the level of quality befitting of a top four contending side, others recognise his importance as the only out-and-out defensive midfielder within the Liverpool squad.
Despite allegedly coming close to leaving for Besiktas in the final week of the summer transfer window, Brendan Rodgers has reinstated the 28 year-old to the starting Xi this season, issuing him five starts out of a possible seven.
And that selection is largely justified by one particularly impressive statistic – Leiva’s 5.2 successful tackles per match, which is actually the highest return throughout the Premier League.
He’s also one of the Premier League’s most dependable water-carriers, ranking eighth in terms of completed passes.
Lucas Leiva is by no means the only Liverpool player topping Premier League charts. Along with the Brazilian, countryman Philippe Coutinho and £32.5million signing Christian Benteke are leading in their respective fields.
The attacking midfielder, who claimed August’s Goal of the Month award for his stunning strike against Stoke City, averages more shots per match than any player in the division. No doubt, the goal at the Britannia was a sterling effort – but good enough to justify a return of one goal from 35 attempts?
Likewise, Benteke leads the way in terms of successful aerial duels per match. Perhaps less surprisingly, considering he’s been regarded as one of the Premier League’s top target men for some time.
When appointed Liverpool manager in summer 2012, Brendan Rodgers’ philosophy was described as ‘death by football’; essentially a short passing game that hoped to mimic the possession-based dominance of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side.
But since first turning up in the Premier League with Swansea City in 2011, the average possession of Rodgers’ sides has actually declined with every season. This term, it reached an all-time low of 51.1% before the Reds faced Manchester United.
It’s since gone up slightly to 51.9% – but that still leaves the Anfield outfit in eighth place throughout the Premier League.
Liverpool’s inability to find the net has certainly left many concerned this season. Having bagged just seven goals in seven games, only four sides have scored less than them this season – relegation candidates Newcastle, Sunderland, Watford and West Brom.
Most troublingly of all, they’ve actually scored the fewest goals in the box of any Premier League side, a miserly five. They’re joint bottom of the table in that regard, once again accompanied by the Magpies, the Black Cats and the Hornets.
The jury’s still out on whether Simon Mignolet’s got what it takes to be a long-term goalkeeper at a club as big as Liverpool. But in terms of distribution he’s certainly been on form this season, coming second throughout the Premier League behind Southampton’s Maarten Stekelenberg.
And perhaps due to him now having an almost unmissable target in the aforementioned Christian Benteke, Mignolet’s impressive distribution accuracy is predominantly sourced from his goal kicks, boasting a division-highest 74% completion rate.
That being said, it’s largely in line with the Belgium international’s statistics from last season – so perhaps he deserves a little more credit.