There was much conversation at the beginning of the season how Liverpool were now using statistics or a "Moneyball Theory" in there transfer policy buying players such as Henderson, Downing, and Adam. Reading these I was a little skeptical based how can you play all these players on the pitch at the same time. One thing to understand about North American sports probably even more than Football is sports are very positional based and there been plenty of failed baseball stories where a player was moved to a different position to take advantage of the player offensive abilities compared to the player currently in that position.
Here is a statistical comparison of players with Liverpool last season and this season (as of April 1st 2012) as well as the primary position the player has been asked to play:
|2011-2012 EPL Stats||2010-2011 EPL Final Stats|
|Players||Prime Ps.||Gp||Min||Gl||As||Sht||Prim Ps.||Gp||Min||Gl||As||Sht|
|Pepe Reina||31 GK||31||2782||0||0||0||38 GK||38||3420||0||0||0|
|Jose Enrique||30 LB||30||2700||0||2||3||36 LB||36||3123||0||1||4|
|Martin Skrtel||26 CB||29||2544||2||1||5||38 CB||38||3420||2||0||2|
|Charlie Adam||14 CM||28||2175||2||6||12||31 AM||35||3049||12||8||36|
|Stewart Downing||13 LM||30||2116||0||0||18||18 RM||38||3385||7||7||26|
|Luis Suarez||16 ST||26||2112||7||3||34||18 RW||26||2270||6||10||44|
|Jordan Henderson||10 RM||30||2078||1||1||16||23 AM||37||3211||3||3||15|
|Dirk Kuyt||12 RW||28||1740||2||1||14||20 RW||33||2815||13||6||30|
|Daniel Agger||20 CB||21||1730||0||0||3||9 CB||16||1092||0||0||1|
|Andy Carroll||16 CF||29||1590||3||1||21||20 CF||26||2070||13||4||36|
|Glen Johnson||15 RB||18||1539||1||0||7||15 RB||28||2437||2||2||7|
|Jamie Carragher||15 CB||17||1365||0||0||0||21 CB||28||2486||0||0||0|
|Lucas Leiva||12 DM||12||1045||0||0||0||32 DM||33||2858||0||1||3|
|Jay Spearing||8 CM||13||1038||0||1||1||10 CM||11||796||0||0||4|
|Steven Gerrard||8 CM||16||1037||5||1||11||19 CM||21||1870||4||5||14|
|Craig Bellamy||6 ST||22||985||6||2||14||21 LM||36||3004||9||11||46|
|Martin Kelly||10 RB||10||784||0||0||3||7 RB||11||860||0||0||1|
|Maxi Rodríguez||5 LM||7||401||2||0||5||16 LM||28||2034||10||0||24|
|Sebastian Coates||2 CB||4||299||1||0||1||27 CB||27||2390||1||0||2|
|Jon Flanagan||3 RB||3||270||0||0||0||7 RB||7||620||0||0||0|
|Jonjo Shelvey||2 DM||6||206||0||0||4|
|Fabio Aurelio||1||1||0||0||0||5 LB||14||570||0||0||1|
|Players Who Left|
|Raul Meireles||10 DM||26||1638||1||3||7||15 CM||33||2523||5||5||26|
|David N'Gog||19 ST||25||1664||2||2||13||9 ST||25||1065||2||1||12|
|Christian Poulsen||17 DM||20||1746||0||0||5||8 DM||12||742||0||0||1|
|Sotiris Kyrgiakos||7 CB||10||774||0||0||1||10 CB||16||1083||2||0||6|
|Joe Cole||10 LW||25||1439||3||2||14||8 LM||20||801||2||1||8|
|Paul Konchesky||36 LB||36||3198||2||3||12||15 LB||15||1046||0||0||0|
|Fernando Torres||11 CF||25||1402||3||4||18||21 CF||23||1891||9||3||31|
In my opinion Liverpool biggest issue so far this season is a consistent formation and not having the proper depth to handle injuries.
Probably the biggest concern is lack of a defensive midfielder in the squad last season during the 2010-2011 premier season Lucas played in that role 32 times although he has been injured most of this season. At least one defensive midfielder was has been used in close to 75% of starting Premier League starting lineups this season which is similar to the Reds ratio although to replace the injured Lucas they have used players who are not defensive midfielders such Gerrard, Adam, Henderson and Spearing.
The other interesting fact is Liverpool using players in different positions then they played the previous season. Charlie Adam had a very productive season with Blackpool as their attacking midfielder where this season he only started in that position a few times, well Henderson played a similar role last season with Sunderland on a number occasions where he has played mostly on the Right with Liverpool. Other interesting positional facts is the Stuart Downing played as many games on the Right as he did on the Left last season and Suarez actually played on the Right with Ajax in a 4-2-3-1 system before his move to Liverpool a formation Liverpool has yet to experiment with.
I think there was always concerns of Carroll ability to replace Torres and think Liverpool could of found better options including multiple options for the price they paid. Prior to Liverpool Carroll played 81 games with Newcastle scoring 32 goals although that's a good ratio 18 were via his head and he only average 1.42 shots on target per 90 minutes of play (career stats similar to the much maligned N'Gog, Bendtner and Kevin Davies). My opinion is Carroll would work very well with a team who wish to use him as the only option and cross in the box on most offensive chances in hope he will score. I don't think there is any proof that he will become a world class player. Even though Torres has struggled with Chelsea his overall ability gives the team a greater amount the options and if you compare the goals of there second forward Sturridge and Suarez the stats reflect that.
I think the final concern the stats bring up is Liverpool lack of commitment to players who preformed well the previous season. Kuyt played an average 85 minutes per game last season scoring 13 goals where this season he's only average 62 minutes being used as substitute 9 times and Maxi Rodriguez scored 10 goals last season has been injured but also benched in allowing players such as Adam and Henderson to play.
I can understand the method behind Liverpool transfer policy of buying players that you can potentially build the team around the problem is integrating players into an already establish system. I think it's smart at this stage to try to find permanent replacements for players reaching the end of their career like Carragher and potentially Gerrard and Kuyt as well as finding decent cover for all starters. Although what Liverpool did was almost the opposite to a "Moneyball Theory" in trying to find budget options using stats in replacing over payed/over valued players.
It will be interesting to see what Liverpool does in the future in terms of developing the club and lets hope that this failed experiment doesn't hurt the potential of what statistical analysis can provide to football.