There is a growing consensus among some pundits that Liverpool’s Premier League form is beginning to improve under Brendan Rodgers. The club managed to draw two of the ostensible Big Premier League clubs in City and Arsenal, and they put in impressive wins against Sunderland, Norwich and QPR before that. Some writers have already speculated as to why the club has turned a corner. Here for example is the Times‘ Rory Smith, who told BT Life’s a Pitch:
“The crucial thing is that Brendan Rodgers has been going for a slightly more experienced side. There’s no question that players such as Raheem Sterling and Andre Wisdom are very talented, and they’re going to have very good careers, but you can’t be playing young players every week and expect them to produce. They look like they have a bit more nous about them now and that’s really important.”
Earlier this week, I looked at Liverpool’s rolling average total shots ratio for the season. TSR is a good indicator a club’s ability to control the ball, and tends to be a good indicator of season to season table placement. Here it is:
That low dip came in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea back on November 11th, before rising to its present marker. A game after that low dip, Rodgers put on Jordan Henderson in place of Suso, and Liverpool beat Wigan 3-0. Two games following that low ebb draw, Brendan Rodgers started both Downing and Henderson. Downing began to regularly replace Wisdom in left-back, and since the new year, Henderson has made five starts while Downing has made regular starts since the end of November.
It’s impossible to provide any concrete cause-and-effect evidence here, but there is certainly a correlation in Rodgers’ shift to Liverpool’s slow improvement. Whether it’s an “experience” thing per se is even less certain, but since the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, Liverpool have stumbled up the scale.