08 June 2015

On Danny Ings

And now Liverpool have signed its second player of the summer. Like Milner, Danny Ings is Premier League-proven and out-of-contract, and won't officially be a Liverpool player until July 1. Unlike Milner, he'll cost a fee: maybe Burnley and Liverpool will be able to agree one, maybe it'll be decided at tribunal because of his age; either way, it'll probably be somewhere between £8-12m. Unlike Milner, Danny Ings a striker, the position that most desperately needs addressing. Which seems a good start.

So what are Liverpool getting?

As a reminder, here's the definition for each area:

Danny Ings is a Danger Zone monster.

All 11 of Ings' league goals came in the Danger Zone – the six-yard box and center of the 18-yard box – and only one was a penalty. They were fairly varied goals as well: four headers, four right-footed, and three left-footed.

54.6% of Ings' shots (including that one penalty) came in the Danger Zone. For comparison, just 35.2% of Liverpool's shots this season came in that area. For further comparison, 31.5% of Suarez's shots and 42.4% of Sturridge's shots in 2013-14 came in that area. And Ings put 49% of those Danger Zone shots on-target.

Aside from Ings' goals totals, those Danger Zone stats aren't entirely dissimilar from what Suarez and Sturridge did in 2013-14.

And Ings' totals came in a vastly, vastly worse side. For Ings' sake, we won't compare their respective stats from wide box and outside-the-box areas, although you can see Suarez and Sturridge's here.

With 11 goals – two more than Liverpool's top scorer, I'll remind – and four assists, Ings had a hand in 53.6% of Burnley's goals. Which, even considering how many minutes he played, is a pleasantly high total.

Danny Ings is a poacher. That's what he does. It's not all he does – he's a hard-worker, a good dribbler, decent at hold-up play and at setting up other players considering his position and the dearth of talent around him: you know, a typical Rodgers/FSG signing – but it's by far his defining trait. As I'm sure you remember, Liverpool did not have a poacher last season, at least not with Sturridge injured. Liverpool very much needed a poacher last season, very much needed their striker to get into those central, high-value areas. And now Liverpool have one, one that'll only be 23 next month, with only one season of Premiership football.

He's clearly durable, missing just three matches through injury, playing the full 90 minutes in 26 matches, subbed off before the 80th minute in just two league matches. Only one forward – Graziano Pelle of Southampton – played more league minutes than Ings.

Combined, Balotelli, Borini, Lambert, and Sturridge played 2909 minutes in the league last season, 126 minutes fewer than Ings did. So any statistical comparison between the five is fairly flawed from the start. Nonetheless, let's look.

Yep, Liverpool missed Sturridge last season, Balotelli was pretty horrid, and Lambert's simply not good enough. The stats suggest Borini might have deserved more time, but Borini's play rarely seemed to. Ings, younger than all four, was more well-rounded than all but Sturridge, who's a different class of striker. 'Kay.

There are, of course, inevitable concerns. But it's also hard to tell how many of those concerns are Ings' fault, and how many are due to being at Burnley, a team that tried hard but just wasn't very good.

Most concerning is Ings' shot accuracy, lower than all four Liverpool's strikers. He is accurate in the Danger Zone. Unfortunately, he's very not accurate from everywhere else, especially from outside the box.

Despite taking more shots than all but seven players in the league (Agüero, Austin, Pelle, Alexis, Kane, Lukaku, and Coutinho), Ings' 2.85 shots per 90 seems low, a fairly average total. More than 50 players averaged more shots per 90 in the league last season.

The 10-match goalless streak from February 21 to May 2, with Burnley fighting relegation, obviously worries. As does the fact that 10 of Ings' 11 goals – every goal except his header in a 1-3 loss at Manchester United – came against a bottom-half side: Everton, Stoke (2), Villa (2), Newcastle, QPR, Palace, West Brom, and Hull. Of course, Liverpool need help against bottom-half sides, dropping points against every single one of those clubs except QPR.

Once again, Liverpool are buying potential. Clear potential, but mostly potential nonetheless. It's a gamble, like Divock Origi will be a gamble. Liverpool will still probably try to add another striker, Liverpool still need to add another striker. They can't be reliant on addressing the multiple issues in front of goal with just Ings and Origi, two youngsters still very unproven at the highest level. Is he better than what Liverpool had this season? It sure seems so. But is he better enough? Ings could be a big upgrade if he continues to develop – that he makes a Harry Kane-style leap next season isn't wholly out of the realm of possibility – but right now it kind of feels like a marginal upgrade when Liverpool need a massive upgrade.

But as with Milner, it's a start, and you can see the logic behind the signing. It certainly seems textbook Rodgers and textbook FSG, and whether that's good enough is an entirely different discussion. However, it remains only a start, and it's another transfer which will have to be taken in the context of Liverpool's future summer business.


Zētētikos said...

Gotta love a player that takes a cheeky shot from the center circle.

Anonymous said...

10 of 11 goals against the bottom sides. 10 of 11 goals from center of the box from 12 yards or less out from goal. A 2.5 month goalless stretch. So we have Origi and Ings with Sturridge a question mark to start the season and probably not up to full match fitness until October/November and possibly not ever. We better be getting that top quality striker. Not a slow ass target man either. A guy with speed who can stretch defenses, run in behind with speed and not allow defenses to compress the midfield and play a high line. A guy that is on the move, breaking at speed and available for a pass when Phil, Lallana, Milner or Kovacic, etc. dance into space with the ball and are looking for that killer pass into the striker. A guy that can create space for a shot with his speed and/or instantaneous change of direction. A guy who allows Phil, Lallana, Kovacic, Milner, etc. to play a ball into a 10 yard radius of a defender but just a little bit closer to "that guy" and know that the ball is automatically his to pick up and move with.