Liverpool Stats Watch: 5 Premier League Numbers That Tell a Story
Statistics can tell a story if you let them, though caution is always needed to not obscure the bigger picture with numbers taken in isolation.
Even so, a general sketch of how a season has progressed can be drawn with accurate numbers, if they're taken in context against the rest of the team, or the rest of the league.
Many fans or observers might tell you that the only statistics that really matter are the points tally and the league position. Let's not take the following numbers too seriously, but, at the same time, appreciate that they can show how well, or otherwise, a team or individual is doing.
Here's Liverpool's Premier League season so far, in numbers.
10: The Number of Players Who Have Figured in More Than Half of Total PL Minutes
The first number tells us something quite clearly: Liverpool haven't had a settled side for enough of this Premier League season.
In fact, the Reds can't even field a full team of 11 players who have played in half of their total Premier League minutes.
Steven Gerrard has of course been featured in all 2,250 minutes of this season, but only three others surpass the 2,000-minute mark; Luis Suarez, Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson.
Joe Allen, Pepe Reina, Martin Skrtel, Raheem Sterling and Stewart Downing have all played more than half, while Jose Enrique cuts it finest, featuring in 1,132 minutes to date.
A total of 25 players have been used by Liverpool in the Premier League, including Andy Carroll and Charlie Adam who left in August, and Nuri Sahin and Joe Cole who departed in January.
16: Percentage of Shots Luis Suarez Manages to Convert into Goals
Luis Suarez came under fire last year for not scoring enough goals at times; this year he's hit back with as many goals in the league as he scored in all competitions last season.
The Uruguayan manages more shots on goal than any other player in the entire top flight in England—he is the second leading scorer so far with 17 goals.
His 139 shots thus far give him a chance conversion rate of 16 percent, a significant improvement on last season when he scored on just 10 percent of his efforts.
Suarez's rate this season is also comparable with any first team regular at Liverpool. Gerrard has the same 16 percent conversion rate, Jordan Henderson has managed 14 percent and Raheem Sterling's efforts yield a nine percent rate.
Only newcomer Daniel Sturridge is more impressive out of those who have netted twice or more—three goals from 16 shots in league play give the former Chelsea man a 23 percent shot conversion rate.
Extrapolating the No. 15's shots so far, if he continues along his current scoring path for Liverpool, then Sturridge will end the present campaign with a total of 15 league goals—not bad for half a season's work.
23: Number of Errors Made by Liverpool Leading to Shots for the Opposition
Here's a disappointing statistic: Liverpool's players have cumulatively made 23 errors in league games this season, very nearly one every game, which results in a shot for the opposition.
Joe Allen has been the biggest culprit in this regard despite his accurate passing, committing five errors leading to shots.
The Reds have conceded a fairly hefty 10 goals so far, which have come directly from errors. Goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been the most frequent source of strikes for Liverpool's opponents, gifting four goals so far, the latest of which came on Sunday against Manchester City.
Martin Skrtel is next in line with two, while Martin Kelly, Joe Cole, Brad Jones and Jose Enrique have all contributed to this unwanted statistic as well.
By way of comparison, Tottenham Hotspur have made 15 errors leading to shots and five leading directly to goals. Everton have made 10 to shots and five to goals, and Manchester United have made 13 to shots and five to goals.
Clearly, individual errors are costing Liverpool dearly this season.
226: Ground Duels Made by Glen Johnson
Liverpool's pressing the front mentality has seen several of their players rack up high numbers of attempted ground duels, with three Reds featuring in the Premier League's entire top 15 in that category.
Glen Johnson is far and away the defender who attempts the most duels at ground level for Liverpool, with 226. He ranks 15th in the league overall—only one other defender ranks higher than him, Newcastle United's Davide Santon.
Johnson has won slightly more than half of those duels, a fair record which stands up to comparison against any other player. Nobody who has attempted 200 or more ground duels has won more than 60 percent of them, so Johnson is certainly performing to a good level in that regard.
He is, however, outscored by two teammates in this metric.
Luis Suarez has been involved in 374 ground duels, and young Raheem Sterling in 301.
Their hard work from the front is proven by the fact that they are ranked one and two, respectively, in the entire Premier League.
1667: Total Number of Passes Made by Steven Gerrard
For all the other stats we can look at, Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool team is based, first and foremost, on intelligent passing, while maintaining possession of the ball and controlling the game in the process.
Key to that ideal, then, is having players in the team who are comfortable dictating the tempo of a match and are keen to receive the ball, make a pass, then repeat and then repeat again.
Joe Allen might have stolen the early season headlines in that regard, but while his own form has since dipped, perhaps the best midfielder the Premier League era has seen has once more come to the fore.
Steven Gerrard excels in a deeper playmaking role, roaming the pitch as a whole when he spots the space to exploit, and delivers his passes with a high frequency and an ever-improving accuracy.
Only three top-flight players have made more passes than Gerrard's 1,667 so far; Michael Carrick, Yaya Toure and Mikel Arteta.
Gerrard plays just over one-third of all his passes to forwards, maintaining the rhythm and attacking nature of Liverpool's play, while his attempted through balls are far more accurate than the three names above.
None of them can compare with Gerrard in terms of actually providing the killer pass to set up a goal—he ranks joint-top of the Premiership in that score with nine assists so far, level with much more advanced-roles players Juan Mata and Lukas Podolski.
Gerrard continues to thrive as Liverpool improve, and his range of passing continues to be a massively important part of the Reds increasing success.
Statistical data from EPLindex.com