Pre-season projection preview – Liverpool

To enhance my 2016/17 Premier League projection I’m reviewing factors that may impact each team’s strength compared with last season, as explained here. Next up Liverpool.

Last Season

Despite only finishing 8th, Liverpool were really quite good last season. Using underlying shot data I had them as the 4th best team (above Leicester City). Add to this, distractions from a management change and  a run to the Europa League final and things augur well for this season.

However, save % of shots on target was poor – 4th worst in the league.

Player Turnover

To illustrate the relative strengths of key players joining and leaving, the numbers below compare defensive, passing and attacking strength against the average premier league player in 2015/16 (0% means at the same level as the average premier league player, greater than 0% is better and less than 0% is worse). Defensive assessment is the sum of defensive actions (tackles, interceptions, clearances and blocks). Passing is number of completed passes, and attacking strength is goals plus assists (all measured per match). This isn’t a robust statistical analysis, and can be skewed due to acquisition from a weaker league or lack of minutes played – but the purpose is to simply indicate the comparative strength of incoming and outgoing players.

Liverpool

Gone are Martin Skrtel and Joe Allen. Both may be missed in varying ways – Skrtel, whilst sometimes erratic is generally strong defensively and Allen has been showing good attacking promise. However, the acquisitions more than make up for the departures with Mane in particular bringing new goal-scoring potency.

Given last season’s poor save % it’s not surprising that Liverpool purchased a new Goalkeeper. Unfortunately Loris Karius immediately broke his hand.

European Competition

No. This is where Liverpool could really benefit. Last year they progressed to the Europa League final – which affected Premier League team selection and focus. This year they have no such distraction – just like 2013/14 when they so nearly won the title.

Management 

No. But Klopp only managed for part of last season, so they should benefit from the close season to get more used to his tactics.

Overall assessment

Stonger. Should benefit from more time under Klopp and no European competition.

04/08/2016

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