Monday, 7 November 2011

Will Poor Chance Conversion Cost Liverpool a Top 4 Finish?

The biggest problem with Liverpool so far this season can be summed up by comparing the three statistics in the following table:

 Minutes Per Shot% Of Shots on Target% Shots Converted Into Goals
Man City646%22%
Man Utd854%22%

The first column shows how many minutes there are between each shot on goal. Manchester City have the most prolific attack, averaging a shot every 6 minutes. They are the only team in the league who shoot at goal more often than Liverpool. There is, therefore, nothing wrong with Liverpool's ability to create chances.

The second column shows how often each team hits the target. Manchester United are the most accurate in this area, hitting the target more times than they miss. Liverpool are the least accurate by a comfortable distance. 

The third column shows  how many shots are converted into goals. It is this stat more than any other which demonstrates our biggest weakness. The top two teams in the league convert 22% of their shots into goals, whilst Liverpool manage just 9%.

To put this into context, if Liverpool would have matched this 22% chance conversion, we would have scored a remarkable 33 goals so far this season. This equates to an extra 1.7 goals per game. The points those goals would have generated would have meant that, instead of fighting for fourth place, we would be in a title race.

Looking into the issue in more detail, here is how our four attacking players who have found their way onto the score sheet compare with each other:

Minutes Per Shot% Of Shots on Target% Shots Converted into Goals

Suarez and Carroll are clearly the main contributors to both our goals tally and our low shot conversion ratio. There have been calls for Craig Bellamy to be given an opportunity in attack, and the above stats would appear to endorse this view. Bellamy has been generally used as a substitute so far this season, and has been coming off the bench to play in wide positions. Taking this into account, the fact that he manages to have a shot on goal almost as often as Carroll is impressive. He also has the highest shot conversion ratio in the team. Many would argue that, given how poor we have been in this department, Bellamy would be unlikely to do any worse.

To put the player stats into context, Van Persie has a 30% conversion, Van Der Vaart has 25% and Torres has 15%. All higher than our front two.

Hitting the woodwork 10 times obviously does not help, but we have to start converting chances. Put simply, our poor chance conversion will cost us a place in the Champions League if it does not improve considerably. I will update these stats later in the season.


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