Do Liverpool have a title-winning midfield?

Liverpool’s transfer signings this summer are a strong bet made by the owners that with Arsenal and Tottenham struggling and Liverpool resurgent under Kenny Dalglish, this season is the best time for them to return to the Champions League.

The significant transfer outlay will not only provide long-term options for Liverpool but they also help Dalglish ensure that Liverpool are able to match the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea in competing for the top four spots.

A key focus on Liverpool’s transfer strategy has been strengthing their midfield, and regardless of whether you think Liverpool have over-paid or bought value with Downing, Adams and Henderson, there’s a lot more creativity, technical ability and flexiilit in Liverpool’s midfield now, allowing them to adapt to a particular match situation instead of floundering with a single course of action.

Nick Miller makes a very valid point about Liverpool making a big gamble on buying midfielders to support Carroll, but it’s equally true that all three players are great passers of the ball, period, and whether it’s Suarez or Carroll or Kuyt leading the line, they are bound to provide valuable service to him.

Adam, Henderson and DowningPremier League 2010-11

Here’s a closer look at the performances of Liverpool’s 50m trio:

Player

Charlie Adam

Jordan Henderson

Stewart Downing

Team

Blackpool

Sunderland

Aston Villa

Position

Midfielder

Midfielder

Midfielder

Appearances

35

37

38

Minutes on Pitch

3051

3219

3387

Goal Attempts

Goals

12

3

7

Shots on Target

35

13

26

Shots off Target

44

21

36

Shooting Accuracy

44.30%

38.24%

41.94%

Chance Conversion %

15.19%

8.82%

11.29%

Passing

Goal Assists

8

4

7

Chances Created

72

82

85

Total Passes

1883

1643

1487

Pass Completion %

72.07%

81.19%

77.54%

Pass % Opp. Half

63.88%

76.68%

74.18%

Crossing

Total Crosses

197

228

324

Cross Completion %

23.86%

24.12%

24.38%

Dribbling

Dribbles & Runs

112

69

65

Dribble Completion %

52.68%

34.78%

43.08%

Duels

Duels

556

260

200

Duels Won %

50.54%

44.62%

51.00%

Defending

Tackles Made

75

62

38

Tackles Won %

82.67%

66.13%

73.68%

Blocks

16

4

2

Clearances

97

35

28

Interceptions

68

64

65

Discipline

Fouls

70

27

6

Offside

0

5

4

Yellow Cards

11

2

0

Red Cards

0

0

0

Scottish international Charlie Adam scored more penalty goals than any other player last season (seven). The former Blackpool midfielder was one of eight PL players to be involved in 500 or more duels.

All three players posted a higher crossing accuracy than last season’s league average (23.26%).

Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing created 239 goal-scoring chances between themselves last season in the Premier League; all three players are included in the top 12.

In fact, Downing and Henderson are ahead of the likes of Nani and Young (Manchester United), David Silva (Manchester City) and Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal) when it comes to creating chances. Although it has helped their case that they were regular starters at their respective clubs last season and may not get similar opportunities at Liverpool, but if the trio can continue their good form of last season, Liverpool will suddenly be a very potent threat going forward.

Most chances created*Premier League 2010-11

Player

Chances Created (inc. assists)

Malouda, Florent

117

Kevin Davies

91

Brunt, Chris

86

Downing, Stewart

85

Henderson, Jordan

82

Barton, Joey

81

Ashley Young

78

Nani

78

Baines, Leighton

74

Silva, David

73

Adam, Charlie

72

Fabregas, Francesc

72

*last pass before a shot – goal assists included

Set Pieces

Only 17 of Liverpool’s 59 Premier League goals came from set-piece situations last term, only three teams posted a lower proportion, so these signings should go some way to improving this. One of the teams below Liverpool, Manchester United, have brought in Ashley Young partially to give them a greater goal-threat from set-pieces.

However, it must be pointed out that while Blackpool (Charlie Adam) scored 24 goals from set-pieces last season (a tally matched or bettered by only 2 other clubs), Aston Villa (Downing) and Sunderland (Henderson) were both poorer than Liverpool when it came to set-pieces, scoring 14, 12 and 17 respectively. Here’s hoping that it was the lack of finishing that had been an issue, not the creative players themselves.

Goals From Set Pieces in 2010/2011

Premier League 2010-11
Team Set piece Open play % Set Piece
Birmingham City 18 19 48.60%
Stoke City 22 24 47.80%
Newcastle United 25 31 44.60%
West Ham United 19 24 44.20%
Blackpool 24 31 43.60%
Wolverhampton Wanderers 20 26 43.50%
Blackburn Rovers 19 27 41.30%
Fulham 19 30 38.80%
Manchester City 22 38 36.70%
Bolton Wanderers 19 33 36.50%
Wigan Athletic 14 26 35.00%
Chelsea 24 45 34.80%
Everton 17 34 33.30%
Tottenham Hotspur 17 38 30.90%
West Bromwich Albion 17 39 30.40%
Aston Villa 14 34 29.20%
Liverpool 17 42 28.80%
Sunderland 12 33 26.70%
Manchester United 17 61 21.80%
Arsenal 13 59 18.10%

Do you think Liverpool have a title-winning midfield? Let us know your thoughts below.

Manchester United's £16m deal to win EVEN MORE free-kicks and penalties
Manchester United Season Preview: Tactics, 20th League Title, Sneijder And More

4 Comments

  1. Chris Tennant 12 August, 2011
  2. Jay Blindside 12 August, 2011
  3. Ragavan 13 August, 2011
  4. sir alex 14 August, 2011