Luis Suarez – Why Liverpool Haven’t Got Enough

Liverpool fans sing a song expressing the feeling that they just can’t seem to get enough Suarez. There’s a growing consensus in the football analytics community that you know, you actually can. In fact in some areas, you can probably get too much.

Forget the Uruguayan’s antics and let’s just concentrate on the football. We’re not too bothered here about % of shots on target (SOT) or blocked or whatever. We keep getting told blocks are a defensive skill yet still see others in the community criticising strikers for their SOT %. That’s before defenders input to a striker’s shot off target has been properly analysed too. At Differentgame we simply look at expected goals from the number of ALL shots from all areas.

In the Premier League it takes 6 shots on average to score a goal from the central area inside the box. That’s taking into account shots by defenders, midfielders, and attackers. The ‘great’ strikers can almost halve that number to need 3 shots to score from there. The ‘good’ ones can get it down to maybe 4. Suarez for Liverpool takes 5.

The difference between good and what Suarez can manage? In the same 77 game period over the last 3 years, Wayne Rooney scored 10 more goals than he should have from this area while Suarez scored 5 more than he should have. It’s not a huge difference, maybe not even significant.

At Liverpool, Suarez has taken about a third of his shots from outside the box. He’s pretty good at it too – at least from open play. He takes 20 shots to score here where the average is 33. He’s slightly above average compared to the rest of the league’s free kick takers taking 19 to score (the average being 20).

Suarez’ main problem is shooting from wide angles inside the box. He simply can’t help himself. He takes nearly a third of his shots from these angles. And considering Suarez takes a lot of shots altogether that’s an absolute shed load of angled shots.

We’ve seen a lot of comment that the wide forward role may suit Suarez better. He takes 22 shots to score from here when the league average is around 18. Great finishers from here (Bale, Walcott) take around 10 shots to score and can repeat this season on season. Suarez is some way off being even average here, let alone good or even great.

We can chart Suarez’ Liverpool career from the start, plotting the goals we could expect the average player to score against the goals Suarez has actually scored. Here’s how it looks:

We can see that it’s taken well over 60 games for Suarez to start and continue to be in ‘profit’ at Liverpool. We haven’t even looked at game state here which means the goals where he’s had his fill feasting on defenders at beneficial scorelines (Norwich, Wigan etc) won’t count as much. He’s spent half of his time at Liverpool not delivering as many goals as the shots and positions he takes them from suggest he should.

Once players get above 4 and 5 shots per game as Suarez continues to, we can pretty much say that they’re starting to take chances away from other players who may be in better positions. Even if they’re not does a really great player just keep shooting anyway instead of retaining the ball? They do not.

Neither Suarez’ decision making nor his execution is world class. Even discounting the baggage the Uruguayan continually brings Liverpool should sell. They’ll get more than he’s worth.

Follow us on Twitter here.

This entry was posted in Sports and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Luis Suarez – Why Liverpool Haven’t Got Enough

  1. Pingback: Is scoring ability maintained from season to season? | 2+2=11

  2. Pingback: Schrödinger’s Shot: On theoretical goal rates | Tactical Strikes

  3. tom says:

    Great article. You note that Suarez is very wasteful from wide angles. This usually seems to happen (from watching Liverpool every week) when he goes on a mad dribble. We’re no worse off when he goes for a dribble from one of the channels into the box and then takes a wasteful shot than if he crosses it (accuracy around 20%). Thoughts?

  4. Hi

    My thoughts kind of surround the whole build up from start to finish. The options ignored the minute he picks up the ball. Suarez this season has been the kind of infuriating team mate who hogs it, but has actually achieved end product at last. Prior to that I’d imagine it’s just infuriating. He is undoubtedly a great talent but to me he falls shot because ajax haven’t missed him and nor do liverpool when he’s not around. I don’t know whether any one player is THAT important.

  5. Steve says:

    For the manager’s sake the club need to sell him, both stats and gut feeling for this fan say we’re not gonna finish any higher with him in the team, but could do with the money to spend. The team were demonstrating the purity of Rodgers’ football at the end of the season – a healthy balance between patient and proactive, with lots of players spending significant time on the ball. I can’t stand the idea of another season of 10-players ascribing to this, only for the free-flowing attack to break down at the feet of a player who believes it his right to attempt another dribble, regardless his position on the pitch.

  6. Pingback: Outside | differentgame

  7. ArmanJnsr says:

    What about C. Ronaldo?
    He also has a high shot per game rate, maybe 6 or 7 shots per game. Is he a “really great player” then?

  8. Pingback: Liverpool; stagnant or progressive | Uber Obelisk ...a look from above

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s