Friday, May 24, 2013

Liverpool FC: Player Ratings & Analysis

Now that the season has come to a close, it’s time to dissect and disseminate the performance of all the players, and to see how they fared over the course of the season. Now that the season review is done, let's have a look at how the players performed over the course of the season thorough some hard figures.

The following table gives a snapshot of the performance of all players who appeared in competitive games for Liverpool in the 2012-13 season.

  • The value in Goals column for goalkeepers(GK) represents the clean sheets they have kept.
  • Pos = Position, App = Appearances,  Sta = Starts, Gol = Goals, Ass = Assists, YC = Yellow Card, RC = Red Card
For my rating system, I decided to follow the following weights for each contribution a player had made.

The reason for assigning a greater weight to a start was the fact that a player has a greater chance to influence the game if he starts the game. Similarly, red cards are punished more severely than yellow cards. The one think to note is that I have considered the League Cup to be less important than the other competitions, and hence the starts, goals and assists carry a lesser weightage than the other competitions. Also to be noted is that the yellow and red cards are more severely punished in the three cup competitions than the league, as there are greater chances of getting suspended in cup competitions than in the league due to the yellow and red cards collected.

So, now that we have an idea about the marking scheme, let’s see how the players actually fared under this rating system.

Under this rating system, Luis Suarez seems to have scored the highest number of points (120.55) followed by Steven Gerrard (84.85) and Pepe Reina (81.00). Both Stewart Downing (67.45) and Jordan Henderson (61.15) seem to have done remarkably well in 4th and 5th places respectively. The two winter signings, Daniel Sturridge (47.00) and Philippe Coutinho (30.70) seem to have done well at 8th and 15th places respectively, while Raheem Sterling (43.10) seems to be the pick of the youngster who have been blooded into the first team this season.

However, if we consider the rating points per appearance, we get the true picture of the impact that has been made by the two winter signings. If we ignore the rating of Jordan Ibe, who made his one and only appearance of the season in Jamie Carragher’s last match, we have Sturridge (2.938), Suarez (2.740) and Coutinho (2.362) as the three players with the highest impact ratings. It epitomises the impact these three players had on Liverpool’s way to successes. During their short time at Anfield, Sturridge scored 11 goals and 4 assists in 16 appearances, and Coutinho scored 3 goals and 7 assists in 13 appearances while the magical Suarez had his best season till date in a Liverpool shirt with 30 goals and 6 assists in 44 appearances.

This list does throw up some surprises that we may not have guessed- Nuri Sahin features quite high up in the list, Gerrard isn’t near the top, while Lucas and Carragher languish near the bootom of the list. The reason Sahin features so high in this list is because of the impact he had on the games when he did play. He was shipped back to Madrid as a failure, having deemed to be not effective enough, but his 3 goals and 3 assists in his 12 appearances were crucial for Liverpool. He did seem to be off the pace at times, but that may be explained due to the fact that he was not played in the position that best suited him.

The same argument holds true for Gerrard as well. Initially, he was deployed as a deep-lying playmaker in a 3 man midfield, which did not quite suit him. As the season wore on, and Lucas returned to full fitness, he moved further upfield and seemed to be in the thick of things more often than before- two long range drives into the bottom corner spring to mind, something which had been missing last season.

The major flaw in the rating system is revealed by the lowly rankings of Carragher and Lucas. The ranking system does not take into account the number of blocks made during a game or the number of tackles won, due to a lack of availability of accurate data. As a result, these players do not get their due from this rating system.

So in terms of impact over the season, if I had to rate my top 5 players, they would be
1.       Luis Suarez
2.       Steven Gerrard
3.       Philippe Coutinho
4.       Daniel Sturridge/Daniel Agger
5.       Jamie Carragher

Please share your thoughts on how to improve the rating system with more available data, as well as your top 5 Liverpool players of the season.

I have tried to have a more expansive rating system, but for paucity of freely available data, I have concentrated only on the Premier League.

You can download the analysis here.