Liverpool v Everton - FA Cup Semi Final

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.

Comments (10)

  1. the amont of liverpool posts on this blog is mind blowing. Why not talk about other below average teams? where are all the posts about Norwich or WBA??

  2. Go ahead and call me a dummy, but what is PDO and what do the numbers on the sides of the graph represent?

    • You’re no dummy! You can ignore the PDO in this instance. It’s just a game-by-game measure of luck. A low PDO indicates an unlucky match, a high PDO indicates a fortunate one. TSR is a measure of total shots ratio, shots/shots+shots against. It is a good measure of a team’s performance, and eventual points finish (with a few caveats).

      • Thanks Richard. I like the inclusion of the PDO now that I understand it better. Luck is a big factor for LFC in my opinion, especially last year where they lead the league (I think) in posts and crossbars hit. I bet their PDO (depending on how it is calculated) was pretty low last year. It would be interesting, from someone new to statistical analysis of football, to compare this graph to last years stats.

  3. This is an interesting take on it because if you were to simply sit and watch the games, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Downing was a waste of atoms. I still feel that way, but it’s plausible that someone with this experience in the league has learned a thing or two about effective non-flashy play that helps the team. I also feel it would be tricky to argue against Henderson emerging as a quality option. his performance against Sweden in the U21′s earlier this week will stand in testament to his growth as a player.

  4. Wisdom has been playing Right back not left and Downing’s resurgence has been at Right midfield not left back.

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