12 Nov 2014

Bony raves: 'Tough' €14m Liverpool star can 'destroy' players on the pitch. LFC's best?

Last season, Martin Skrtel consistently produced superb performances for Liverpool, and along with Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, and Jordan Henderson, he was (arguably) one of the Reds most important players. This season, Skrtel has not yet reached the same heights, but according to long-term Liverpool target Wilfried Bony, the Slovakian remains one of the Premier League's toughest defenders.

In an interview last week, Bony - who reportedly remains a top transfer target for Liverpool - revealed a list of 'tough' defenders against whom he finds it hard to play. He noted:

“It is not easy in England. It is a tough league. You look at the central defenders – Cahill, Terry, Skrtel, Kolo, Ivanovic - they can destroy you in the first contact. You have to be ready for that.”

That's quite a compliment coming from Bony, who, with his formidable body-strength - is probably one of the strongest players in the Premier League.

€14m-rated Skrtel has proven himself to be an imperious defender, but he is still regularly maligned by some LFC fans. Yes, he's prone to occasional concentration lapses, but overall, he remains Liverpool's most effective central defender.

Granted, given Liverpool's atrocious defensive record, that's not saying much (!), but in my view, playing alongside Dejan Lovren, Simon Mignolet, and Alberto Moreno - all whom make regular mistakes - is bound to have a knock-on effect on Skrtel.

Indeed, last season, Mignolet made more goal-gifting mistakes than any other Premier League 'keeper, and this year, Lovren leads the way with defensive errors that lead directly to goals (four so far), with Moreno just behind him on three mistakes.

Granted, Skrtel has also made a couple of mistakes that led to goals, but overall, I'd still have him in the team ahead of Sakho, Lovren, and even Kolo Toure.

Bony also mentioned John Terry, but how does Skrtel stack up against the Chelsea captain, who is undoubtedly one of the league's best defenders?

* Games Played: MS - 9 | JT - 11
* Total Passes: MS - 535 | JT - 444
* Passing accuracy: MS - 92% | JT - 89%
* Tackles Won: MS - 89% | JT - 78%
* Aerial duels Won: MS - 85% | JT - 76%
* Ground Duels Won: MS - 71% | JT - 80%
* Interceptions, Clearances + Blocks: MS - 129 | JT - 83
* Recoveries: MS - 43 | JT - 37

Stats: OPTA

Statistically, Skrtel is outperforming Terry in every defensive area bar ground duels, and given the fact he's played two less games than the Chelsea man, his figures are all the more impressive.

Additionally, with 92% accuracy, Skrtel's passing accuracy is the best in Liverpool's squad, and not even Gerrard, Henderson, or Allen can compete with the Slovakian's ability to find another LFC player with the ball.

Skrtel regularly gets it in the neck, but clearly, he's a good defender, and he'll get even better (and more consistent) when he's part of a defensive unit that's not so individually and collectively error-prone.

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  1. I suppose these are for last year? I doubt he is dong so well this year. With you having opta stats Jaimie can you compare the same players with errors and errors that led to a goal please? Also some clarification on Interceptions Clearances and blocks. My gut tells me that Skrtle does more clearances than anything but actual stats would be great. If you have the time.

  2. I agree with most things you say but this post is way off. Skirtel is a good defender for most of the game but if you look at the goals conceded in set pieces, corners etc and he is to blame for almost all of them. And this isn't a new thing with him. As long as he is in the team we will lose points because of terrible defending of set pieces and his solid defending in open play disguises this and allows him to keep his place. He's been found out and dropped several times over the years but to his credit gets back in the team. It annoys me when people say he's our best defender when he is the main cause of our problems. And before people bang on about a defensive midfielder look at how many goals we've conceded and nearly all of them are crosses which isn't down to cover in front of the back four. The sooner skirtel is dropped for the last time the sooner things will get a bit better. By the way when he was out for two games earlier and we only conceded one goal. Anyway rant over.

  3. Stats :-) Useless without interpretation. Skrtel clearly looks a better player than Terry just looking at the stats. He clearly isn't. What he is good at he ruins by being terrible in his decision making and positioning. Stats doesn't show that. Technically yes, he is a god defender. But reading of the game, positioning and decision making is what makes a truly good defender. He will never be that - and not nearly. Stats just doesn't show that. Clear example of why moneyball will never work in football

  4. Jaimie, please, stats are not always gospel.

    It's like saying Joe has better game than John because Joe picked up 100 girls last month to John's 50,but in reality, all of Joe's girls were a combination of Thai transexuals and ugly obese women, while John's girls were worldies.

  5. Skrtel imperious? He scored 7 or so, but was a mainstay in a defence that cost us the league.

    He hasn't got a brain in his head. Fresh from a running battle v Costa in the Slovakia v Spain match, he gets involved again.

    He could have gotten Costa booked early on when he was barged in the back but jumped up and pushed Costa, allowing the referee to back out with just a talking to both players.

    Liverpool need to start playing a bit dirtier. Take some cynical yellows a la Chelsea. Fair play award = points left on the field. It really cost us last year :(

    PS. When will we get some revealing measurable meaningful impact stats for Mad Mario?

  6. Given Lovren's untimely demise it's clear that Skrtel is still our best defender. He has his moments of panic but when he gets it right he's certainly got all the basic skills of a top-notch defender.

  7. It's funny how when in England we tend to look at things differently from when you go abroad.
    I've been in France, Germany and the Netherlands for work with some colleagues there and they all rate Sakho as the best of our defenders.

    I think it is Sakho although he's not been consistent or been given a run of games for one reason or another he's rated the most internationally.

  8. Its interesting that statistically Skrtel is outperforming John Terry, but in actual fact, Chelsea's defence is much much better than ours. I love statistics but which statistic you take into account actually covers the synergy between the defenders, the teamplay and their collective movement ?

  9. Or goals conceded and league position?

  10. Skrtel and Sakho should be given more time IMO, which hopefully will help out Lovren too.
    Lovren's been under massive pressure and as a result has committed the most defensive errors in the league.
    If Rodgers takes him aside and says look I'm not taking you out because I don't have faith in you, but because you've been getting a bit of stick and I want to protect you, it'll give him time to work on his issues without damaging his confidence too much. He can then be slowly re-integrated into the team building confidence and relationships and game time.
    Pellegrini did the same with Joe Hart and he's looked much better since.

  11. They are for this year.... Games played = 9...

  12. If Bony finds Skrtel a difficult opponent then maybe we don't need Bony :) According to a few comments on this post Skrtel is still our best defender which can only be a bad thing. He was incredible during his first season with us but terrible to average ever since. He has been given far too many chances and YEARS to prove his consistent worth and has always demonstrated he isn't good enough.......and still we persist......

  13. Clearly he has not been has not seen his performances this season!

    Man we need some spark! It's getting a little depressing.

    We need to give Sakho another chance. His another injury prone player we have, along with Flanagan, Sturridge.

  14. Two errors that led to goals. How many errors generally? I saw a stat that I will look up that said Lovren's stats were better than Skrtel's this season. Like many have said stats don't tell the whole picture.

  15. No stats no matter how good they are can help Skrtel's case in the following image. I would rather have John Terry COMMANDING our defence any day of the week compared to Skrtel who cannot even spell communication.

  16. Of course Skrtel is very good and the others central defenders that we have they are not bad either. Not even Lovren, who is a big dissapointment until now. Don't forget that last year, Lovren was well protected by two excellent defensive midfielders like Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama. That was the reason for his impressive season, he was a rock! This year he has no protection, because Gerrard is the only DM (but he is not a natural defensive midfielder) in Rodgers' system! We need in our team, midfielders with defensive virtues to form a partnership like Xabi Alonso - Javier Mascherano and protect our defenders. Then they will feel safe and confident to play better! Only then we will realize that our defenders are not so bad as we think now... YNWA

  17. Is that Lovren beside him?

  18. Yes. laughable ain't it yet Mignolet gets the wrong end of the stick.

    Which GK on this planet is going to ever feel comfortable when he is left in no mans land most of the time?

  19. Sahko sayin he had problems understanding English so play him with Toure problem solved

  20. Martin Skrtel vs Dejan Lovren

    Games played MS 9 DL 11
    Total passes MS 535 DL 742
    Duels won MS 47 DL 82
    DW % MS 71.2% DL 68.9%
    ADW% MS 85.4% DL 70.1
    Recoveries MS 43 DL 71
    Average RPG MS 4.7 DL 6.45
    Tackles won MS 8 DL 18
    Tackles lost MS 1 DL 9
    ATWPG MS 0.88 DL 1.63
    TW% MS 88.9% DL 66.7%
    Clearances MS 94 DL 112
    ACPG MS10.4 DL 10.18
    Blocks MS 9 DL 3
    ABPG MS 1 DL 0.27
    Interceptions MS 16 DL 21
    AIPG MS 1.7 DL 1.9
    interceptions, blocks and clearances MS 119 (not 129) DL 136
    AIBCPG MS 13.22 DL 12.36

  21. Lovren, Toure, Sakho and Mignolet all speak French. Surely we have to be going with two of the three above mentioned CB's?

  22. Here we can see that Lovren is behind Skrtel on lots of things yet above him an quite a few too. His stats are comparable to Terry's yet would we compare the two players? No that would be bonkers. So it shows that there is more to a defender than the stats available. Positioning, intelligence, leadership, organisation, teamwork are all things that cannot yet be quantified but what makes up the better CB. Skrtel's criticism is deserved as is Lovren's, probably more for their mistakes than their defensive actions.

  23. I posted the Squawka stats days ago and Lovren is outperforming Skrtel stats wise. Squawka will also show that Terry has a better defensive score overall than Skrtel.

    If Skrtel was performing on the pitch at a respectable standard then by all means brag about his pass %. Fact is he has been rubbish on the pitch this season. Our defence is worse than what it was last season.

  24. I also like the look of Gonalons from Lyon as a DM

  25. Lovren is not outperforming Skrtel in any way, shape, or form, so please stop spreading misinformation. In the league, Skrtel is outperforming Lovren in the following areas:

    * Ground duels (71% vs. 68%)
    * Aerial duels (85% vs. 70%)
    * Passing (91% vs. 87%)
    * Tackles won (89% vs. 66%)

    The only area Lovren exceeds Skrtel is clearances, interceptions and blocks, but the difference is minimal (119 vs 136) - Plus, Lovren has played two games more than Skrtel this season, so obviously his stats will be higher in some instances.

  26. Yes there are aspects of being a defender that cannot be statistically quantified, but that doesn't mean the statistical aspects should be ignored, downgraded, or given lesser weight. When it comes to the crunch, the nitty-gritty aspect of defending is tackling, aerial/ground duels, interceptions, blocks, clearances etc, and in order to be effective at that, positioning etc needs to be spot on.

  27. This is a typical fickle knee-jerk reaction. Skrtel was LFC's best defender last season, now all of a sudden he's an amateur? Nonsense. The defensive unit around him has changed (Lovren, Manquillo, Moreno), and he's playing alongside a defender who's having a crisis of confidence (Lovren), and an goalkeeper who makes everyone nervous. Skrtel can't do it all by himself, so obviously he's going to be affected.

  28. Lovren has attempted more tackles than Skrtel. It is evident in the stats Jay Jay posted. Lovren has won 18 tackles compared to Skrtel's 8. The % of tackles won again is flawed.

  29. Well i disagree that Skrtel is our best defender.

  30. And just in case the more games played argument arises...

  31. But like I mentioned Lovren has been better than Skrtel in some of these things. Far more active in tackles and attempted tackles, at least equal on Interceptions etc yet he has up to now been dreadful. It's not about downgrading these stats but grading them realistically. Neither of our defenders can hold a candle to Terry despite these stats. So what does it tell us? The stats are too small a picture to make a case for these defenders being good at their trade. What is very clear from the stats is they are having to do a lot more work than Terry which we both agree should not be the case. They do need more protection but neither player should escape the criticism they deserve.

  32. What difference does 'attempted tackles' make? An attempted tackle is a failed tackle, which means Lovren is not effective at timing his tackles. Skrtel may attempt fewer, but it's quality not quantity that counts.

  33. The fact that Skrtel is making fewer tackles than Lovren also does not work in Skrtel's favour.

    Lovren has attempted 3 times the amount of tackles Skrtel has and Lovren actually goes towards the danger whereas Skrtel always waits for things to happen.

    Skrtel reactive vs Lovren proactive.

  34. The conclusion you draw has nothing to do with tackling. I disagree that Skrtel is 'reactive' - it's a nice label, but it's a gross generalisation. Lovren is rash, and commits himself too often, whereas Skrtel only seems to attempt tackles when there's a chance of winning them. That's playing smartly. If Skrtel is so reactive, he wouldn't have been one of the best defenders in the league last season.

  35. What does this prove? You're using Squawka's 'defence score' as some kind of indicator of quality? It's utterly meaningless.

  36. "Skrtel only seems to attempt tackles when there's a chance of winning them."

    What? Last ditch tackles is a sign of 'I am going to win this one'? Your quote smacks of being reactive.

    Skrtel the best defender last season. I totally disagree ;-)

  37. Well you are using Skrtel's stats and comparing his to John Terry's? Skrtel cannot lace Terry's boots. I know who I would rather have in my team.

  38. Makes more succeful tackles per game and is attempting more. Skrtels tackles won per game is less than Lovren's. Not saying it is a good thing necessarily. He has looked far too eager to please and failed at it many times. Skrtel attempting fewer could be a statistical reminder of his propensity to drop off. This could also be seen in the ground duels., Skrtel getting involved in 5.2 a a game with Lovren engaging in 7.45. Skrtel tends to make more blocks which fits with this theory and what I generally see when he plays. He is not attempting tackles but dropping off to the point of the opposition shooting and then blocks. But as the stats don't show such things it is hard to say. Lovren however is attempting tackles, failing and then having to make more recoveries.
    His (Skretel)success rate at passing in opposition half is much lower than that of his passing genrealyy which could shpw what we see with are eyes and theta he is mostly knocking it back to keeper and CB partner. This invites pressure. Again the stats don't show this directly but give an indicator.

  39. If you analyses the stats they do indicate a reactive defender. Just like Lovren's show a rashness.

  40. There is still a chance for Lovren to come good though. You can see he is trying far to hard to impress and LFC is a much bigger club and the transfer fee is another thing Lovren has to deal with.

    Only time will tell.

  41. Lovrens successful ground duels per game 7.45 Skrtel 5.2.

    Succesful areal duels per game on avereage
    L 4.27 S 3.8
    Passing L 67.45 S 59.44
    Tackles won L 1.6 S 0.8

    Now according to you the percentage is more important than the numbers. So by trying to do less Skrtel is the better player? Even though in actual terms of contribution the numbers suggest that Lovren is doing better. In C I and B Lovren is not doing as well by 0.86 per game. So like you say minimal.But winning twice as many tackles a game is significant. Winning 50% more ground duels is significant.

  42. For me I would take him out of the firing line. Bring Sakho in as soon as pos and bring in Lovren later. Sakho needs to work with Toure have that leader to settle him in the get Lovren in to the side for cup games to get the pair working together then as the season goes on have the Sakho Lovren partnership. It's either that or start all over again in the summer and throw more money at it.

  43. The percentage is more important than the numbers because it means, overall, Skrtel is more consistently effective when it comes to actually making a specific defensive impact.

    Lovren has to make more attempts per successful tackle/duel etc, which means he's failing more at stopping the opposition.

    Every failed tackle/interception/block/duel etc allows an opposition player to advance on LFC's goal, which in turn increases pressure on the defence.

  44. Problem is that Rodgers does not seeme to be a fan of Sakho and will most likely be sold so the only hope for Sakho would be if another manager to step into the job.

    If results do not improve then Sakho may just get his chance to prove himself.

    One thing is for sure, Skrtel and Lovren as a CB pair = disaster waiting to happen but Rodgers persists. Blind leading the blind.

  45. So less actual contribution is better as it is more effective. So effective we have conceded loads of goals? Lovren is failing more but is being more successful too. On average per game he is making more of a defensive contribution than his counterpart. This means more than doing less and therefor having a higher percentage. Every time he drops off it widens the gap between midfield and defence, it invites trouble.

  46. It's not actually a lesser contribution. Lovren has played 180 minutes more than Skrtel (in the league). If Skrtel had those extra two games, his figures would be a little higher, as would his overall averages.

  47. Look again at what I put up. Literally on average his contribution is higher.

  48. You are using numbers for that average, not percentages. Lovren's average numbers will be higher than Skrtel because he's played two more games, which means he will obviously make more tackles, interceptions etc as he's had more opportunity for increased figures. My point still stands.

  49. Skrtel has made 9 tackles in total. That is 1 tackle a game? What is the margin for error by making one tackle a game? What would happen if he had to triple that? Clearly he is not interested in making more than one tackle a game?

  50. What? The number will be still decided by the extra games. Thus average PER GAME! He will have made more tackles as he had more games but that is still decided by those games. That is not hard to understand. If the argument you are making is that % is better as

    Lovren may have had a really good game which gets his average higher but it does not represent the overall then the opposite is true for percentages. For instance Skrtel may have made lots of headers winning all his duels in one game. Then the rest his making is terrible and he is never near a man to get in to a duel. Less is more in percentages. My argument from the start is that neither player have played well and that those stats that we have been putting up don't really tell even a quarter of the story. We all know that Terry is better than our defenders but our way of showing that lacks the nuance. Essentially not meaning a lot at all.

  51. Percentages doesn't take in to account the amount of games played. If yo play ten minutes and make one tackled and win it yours is a 100%. Percentages are just as ineffective.

  52. I want to edit this but can't. Reason?

  53. And thus the percentage works in his favour. Also aren't percentages made up of numbers?

  54. If Rodgers was to get the coaching right and have Sakho play like he does for France, and have Lovren like he does for Croatia, then we would (arguably) have one of the best defensive partnerships in the league. But agreed, right now it is Skrtel who leads the way - and TBH I think Toure should come in for the rest of the season alongside him (or until Lovren gets his confidence back). Rodgers' ego will never allow it though.

  55. No, they're not ineffective. They only don't work when you choose an unrealistic stat such as the one you've chosen. 9 games vs. 11 games is a fair comparison when it comes to percentage states.

  56. yep..... touch tight. Inseparable.... the way a good cb should mark the apposing forward.

  57. And then look at the 'goals conceded' stats Jaimie. If it's applicable to goal keepers , then it's even more applicable to defenders.

  58. I used that stat to make a point. But the principal is the same. Like averages it doesn't give anything close go the real picture.

  59. Some of us were saying it last year.

  60. You assume that Skrtl would play well in those 2games.