04 June 2014

On Suarez and Sturridge's Shooting 2013-14

We got interrupted by LAMBERT WATCH, but I'd like to revisit this from last Friday, on Liverpool's shooting in 2013-14, with a focus on Liverpool's two primary goal scorers.

And here's a quick GIF comparing each's shot locations, just because.

As a reminder, this is how I've defined each area.

Liverpool took 651 shots in total last season. Combined, Suarez and Sturridge took 280 shots, which was 43% of Liverpool's shots in the Premier League. And they were responsible for 52 of Liverpool's 101 goals – 51.5%.

Via Ted Knutson, the "average forward/attacking midfielder" in the Big Five leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France) averages 2.35 shots per 90, 37.5% shot accuracy, 0.23 non-penalty goals per 90, and 11% goal conversion.

And then there's Suarez and Sturridge.


Suarez's shot chart makes Sturridge's pale in comparison, but there are a few caveats. Only eight players took more shots than Sturridge this season: Suarez, Giroud, Bony, Dzeko, Lambert, Jay Rodriguez, Rooney, and Lukaku, and all but Dzeko played more minutes than Sturridge. Only 10 players took more than 99 shots in 2012-13: Suarez (187, six more than 2013-14), Bale, van Persie, Ba, Cazorla, Michu, Defoe, Giroud, Tevez, and Benteke. Luis Suarez is just an inhuman freak of nature, wholly lacking in conscience, attempting 69 more shots than the next closest player (Giroud with 112) last season.

A quick bar chart of the 15 players with the most shots last season for emphasis…

Only nine players attempted half as many shots as Suarez last season. Only four players attempted more than five shots per 90 minutes: Suarez, Jovetic, Agüero, and Harry Kane. Suarez played 2963 minutes last season; the other three played 367, 1527, and 500 respectively.

And that's the overwhelming narrative in these charts. Suarez will shoot from anywhere, anytime, early and often, yet converted an incredible amount this season. His shooting accuracy was 50% or better in five of the six box locations, only below average on the left side of the box, but he also struggled to get shots inside the six-yard box. And 77 of Suarez's 181 shots (42.5%) came from outside the box, leading to seven goals, but accurate with only 28.57% of his shots.

Meanwhile, Sturridge is a much more orthodox striker, not quite judicious, but often shooting from more sensible locations. He was a conversion machine in the danger zone (scoring from 14 of his 19 on-target shots), even if surprisingly inaccurate in the center of the 18-yard box; more than decent from the wide areas of the box; and his outside the box shots were clustered within 30 yards from goal. Sturridge only attempted two shots from the deep or wide positions outside the box. Suarez attempted 21.

That's an insane level of Danger Zone accuracy from Suarez, but his overall accuracy was dragged down by the number of shots from distance. Sturridge was more consistent zone-to-zone.

The percentage of each's total shots by locations, compared to Liverpool's in total, makes this more emphatic.

Compared to Liverpool's team-wide totals, a higher percentage of Suarez's shots came from the wide areas of the box and from deep, while a higher percentage of Sturridge's shots came from the six-yard box and the area just outside the box. Six-yard box shots are almost always the best shots, and 12.1% of Sturridge's shots came from the six-yard box, compared to 3.3% for Suarez and 6.3% for Liverpool in total. Sturridge scored on eight of his 12 six-yard box shots.

It's also worth noting how each played when Liverpool were winning, tied, or losing, which Ben Pugsley helpfully looked at earlier today. I highly encourage you to read the whole piece but the short version: Suarez is a flat-track bully whose accuracy and efficiency drops if Liverpool are tied or behind, while Sturridge is puts up fairly consistent numbers no matter the game state. Which again fits into the 'Suarez will shoot from anywhere, so it's no surprise when he's even less accurate when Liverpool are more desperate; Sturridge is more deliberate, more consistent' narrative that we see in each's shot location.

Had just one player been so potent, improved so dramatically, it's probably unrepeatable coincidence. That two players did it makes it less likely to be a chance occurrence. And when you factor Sterling into the mix – nine goals on 45 shots, 48.9% overall accuracy, 60.9% Danger Zone accuracy (eight goals, 14 on-target shots from 23 total shots) – three makes a crowd. And gives me hope that Suarez and Sturridge can perform at similar, even if not quite as amazing, levels next season.

Suarez probably still needs to be pickier about where he shoots from, Sturridge needs to improve his accuracy in the center of the 18-yard box. But we just saw two outstanding seasons from two Premier league strikers, including one that's arguably in the pantheon of great seasons.

1 comment :

Danica Lavoie said...

Suarez is a great player, no one can deny that