Luis Suarez: How He Really Stacks Up Against Other 2012/13 EPL Stars

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Luis Suarez: How He Really Stacks Up Against Other 2012/13 EPL Stars
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
On the hunt: Not least of Luis Suarez's impressive arsenal is his dribbling ability.

Luis Suarez’s 30 goals in all competitions this season was 18 more than that of his nearest competitor in a Liverpool jersey (Daniel Sturridge had 12). The fiery Uruguayan also finished runner-up for Premier League Golden Boot Award—despite missing the last four games of the season through an FA 10-match ban.

His list of accomplishments is impressive, but how does Luis Suarez stack up against some of the EPL’s stars?

Star is a subjective term. After all, one man’s star can be another man’s scrubber. To set a baseline for stardom, the minimum requirement is 15 or more goals scored in the 2012/13 EPL season (via ESPN FC)—which conveniently coincides with the league’s top 10 scorers.

It is a simplification that is bound to upset some purists.

Admittedly, this excludes players whose overall ability isn’t defined by the number of times they found the net. For example, Juan Mata’s 12 goals exclude him on this simple criterion and doesn’t account for his league-topping 12 assists.

Notables like Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero are absent, too. It is, however, exciting to see the emergence of newcomers, like Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke and Swansea City’s Michu.

Goals may be in the title, but they don’t tell the whole narrative. Using other statistical data on offense (via ESPN FC and WhoScored.com) might provide a better composite sketch of how Luis Suarez measures up to his fellow "golistas."

Therefore the categories assists, shots, shots on goal (SOG), shots per game (Shts/Gm), goals per SOG, games-per-goal ratio (Gm/Goal), key passes (KP—defined as the final pass leading to a shot at goal by a teammate) and successful dribbles per game (Dri) were added.

Here is the composite table:

Player

App(sub)

Goals

Assists

Shots

SOG

Goal/SOG

Shts/Gm

Gm/Goal

 KP

Dri

Robin van Persie

35(3)

26

8

141

65

0.4

3.7

1.46

1.8

0.7

Luis Suárez

33

23

5

187

72

0.32

5.7

1.43

2.7

2.9

Gareth Bale

33

21

4

165

73

0.29

5

1.57

2.3

1.8

Christian Benteke

32(2)

19

4

104

43

0.44

3.1

1.79

1.6

0.7

Michu

35

18

2

110

34

0.52

3.1

1.94

1

0.2

Romelu Lukaku

20(15)

17

4

99

47

0.36

2.8

2.06

1

0.9

Dimitar Berbatov

32(1)

15

3

80

31

0.48

2.5

1.93

1.4

1

Frank Lampard

21(8)

15

1

81

35

0.43

2.8

2.2

1.1

0.3

Rickie Lambert

35(3)

15

5

94

42

0.36

2.5

2.53

2.1

0.2

Demba Ba

30(4)

15

0

135

54

0.28

4

2.43

0.6

0.3

So how does Liverpool’s No. 7 rate? Using the categories and players in the list, he comes out on top of shots, shots per game, games per goal, key passes and dribbles.

The listed competitors may give some pause for further comparison.  So let us.

In these same categories leaguewide, it is only in key passes that the Liverpool front man doesn’t top the same lists. Only David Silva and Leighton Baines surpass him in key passes.

Detractors might argue that 187 shots constitutes selfishness in front of net. Supporters could counter that he created enough space for himself to be able to take 5.7 shots a game, and that his 1.43 games-per-goal average justifies it.

Further evidence that he is not just about the highlight reel is his five assists. In the 10-man list, only van Persie has more. Granted he is no Juan Mata (12) or Santi Cazorla (11), but their goals combined match Suarez’s.

The Uruguayan ace's key-pass average (2.7) is further proof that his interests are not entirely ego-driven. It demonstrates that he possesses both the vision and skill to actively create opportunities for teammates.

His goal per shot-on-goal average sees him in the company’s rear guard, but 23 goals offers a lot of solvent to dissolve that smear.

And if shortcomings should fully be explored, whoscored.com also has Luis Suarez heading the list for the number of times dispossessed per game with 2.8. At an average of 2.4 turnovers, he is also more  guilty of losing possession through a mistake or poor control than anyone on the list.

It should also be mentioned that his 10 yellow cards put him at the top of the naughty list (via ESPN FC) this season—which surprises no one.

This is by no means a definitive work and it invites further categorical comparison (and, please, draw comparison!). However, evidence does suggest that, where and when it counts, Luis Suarez is one of the best strikers in the EPL. 

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