6 Aug 2009

Aquilani vs. Alonso: Is John Arne Riise right?

According to John Arne Riise, new Liverpool signing Alberto Aquilani carries a greater goal threat than the recently departed Xabi Alonso. Whilst that would clearly be fantastic for the team, is it actually true?

In an interview, Riise stated:

“He’s [Aquilani] is really good on the ball, with good passing, good movement, he works hard and is a good professional”.

Hmm. Sounds like Alonso to me. Riise added:

“He [Aquilani] likes to have the ball at his feet but not because he likes to dribble, he just wants to keep the team moving”.

Once again, the same goes for Alonso. Riise concluded:

“He [Aquilani] certainly runs more than Xabi and is probably more dangerous in terms of getting in the box and trying to score goals”.

The press has jumped all over Riise’s comments and headlines proclaiming Aquilani’s apparent creative superiority are popping up all over the net. As I will illustrate though, Riise - and the press - are massively wide of the mark.

The only fair way to test Riise’s theory is to consider the specific, measurable impact of of both players on their respective teams. To that end, I’ve examined the following:

1. Goals scored
2. Assists
3. Shots on goal
4. In all competitions
5. For all appearances (starts and sub appearances)
6. Between 2004-05 (Alonso's first season) and now.

Alonso: 2004-2009

Total appearances - 210
Goals - 19
Assists - 23
Shots on goal – 110

Total: 42 goals and assists
Measurable creative impact in 20% of games

Aquilani: 2004-2009

Total appearances: 139
Goals - 10
Assists - 2
Shots on goal – 31

14 goals and assists
Measurable creative impact in 10% of games

I appreciate that Aquilani has been injured a lot over the last 3-5 years but when judging a player’s creative output, we can only work with the available facts and figures, and that means goals, assists and shots on goal. These are specific, measurable indicators of a player’s creative ability.

So, with these figures in mind, how exactly is it accurate to suggest that Aquilani is ‘probably more dangerous’ than Alonso? It seems inarguably clear that Alonso - a deep lying midfielder - is a more dangerous and creative player than Aquilani, an attacking midfielder.

This probably explains why Real Madrid paid 30m for Alonso and not Aquilani.


  1. Time will tell - Alonso is a loss no doubt but Rafa is looking for different ways for the team to play - expect Mascherano to have the deep lying role at the base of the midfield with Aquilani and Gerrard running off him

  2. Well, we'll see, won't we?  Anyway, I'd hardly call the like of Totti and Di Rossi bad players, would you? Roma has lots of good players.

  3. Quick question - saw the quotes from Riise and ur comments on each one save for the last quote which u pretty much left alone. Whats the interpretation/comment on the last quote

  4. Jamie I have not  insulted you, nor gone off topic. What I have done is bring some very valid points to the debate..If you cannot answer those points then just say so instead of making out someone went off topic or insulted you,,but then you never can admit your possibly wrong can you.... 

  5. I never delete comments without justification.  Even if you did raise valid points, if you used insults too then it will have been deleted, irrespective of the validity of your comment.  I *never* delete comments just because I don't agree or don't want to answer; as the comments on this site prove, I welcome challenges to my opinion.

  6. Well Jamie as I already stated I do not believe in hurling insults, I'm a bit too mature for that lol. And yes you have deleted posts of mine that do nothing more than challenge your opinion,  like questioning your use of unfair, incomplete and irrelevent stats that do not really paint a picture of the truth. For example your stats do not take into account the players being fit, but not getting a game due to manager preference. Nor are they based on minutes played. Statistics can be manipulated  to represent almost any outcome desired and therefore to rely and base ones whole argument on them is naive at best and simply stupid when they are not even relevant to the debate. You admit to using stats which SHOULD be based on minutes on the pitch, yet still try to defend the stats used in your article which are not based on minutes on the pitch, if the stats are useless then just don't use them instead of trying to be smart..You can and do produce some decent articles on occasion but these are limited to when you actually do your research and then double check the facts. Sorry Jamie but you left yourself wide open with this article.

  7. He probably knows something we don't but I would have Alonso any day.

  8. Stats or no stats.
    Comparing Serie A to the Premier League isn't on.  We all know the PL is a higher tempo with more end-to-end action.  I'm sure if you analysed the total number of shots by Liverpool to Roma in that period then Liv would come out miles on top.

  9. The Saviour of LFC12:00 am, October 14, 2009

    I just want to make a point on the original article by Jaimie.  For all of the people who truly underestimate the value of Alonxo heres the deal:

    Alonso averages a shot every 2 games (210 divided by 110)
    Alonso averages a goal every 11 games (210 divided by 19)
    Alonso averages an assist every 9 games (210 divided by 23)
    Alonso scores every 5.7 shots he takes (110 divided by 19(

    In contrast;

    Aquilani averages a shot every 4.5 games (139 divided by 31)
    Aquilani averages a goal every 14 games (139 divided by 10)
    Aquilani averages an assist every 69.5 games (139 divided by 2)
    Aquilani scores every 3.1 shots he takes (31 divided by 10)

    Aquilani IS more of a goal threat.  But Alonso is more of a creative force.