11 Nov 2015

Anfield Surprise: Milner and £30m attacker are Liverpool's worst performers in one major area

For me, players cheaply giving the ball away is one of the most frustrating aspects of Liverpool's performances this season, but who is the worst offender?

Liverpool have long been renowned for possession football, and under Brendan Rodgers, it was a cornerstone of his initial 'death by football' philosophy.

Shortly after being appointed to the Anfield hotseat, Rodgers outlined his philosophy as follows:

“When you’ve got the ball 65, 70 percent of the time it’s a football death for the other team. We’re not at that stage yet, but that’s what we’ll get to, it’s death by football”.

By the end of his tenure, Rodgers had seemingly abandoned this approach, and new Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp doesn't appear to be the greatest fan of 'death by football'.

Indeed, in his first press conference as Liverpool's manager, Klopp told reporters:

"Now we cannot talk about football philosophy and ball possession, playing like Barcelona, playing like whoever. No, this team needs to create their own style".

Whatever 'style' the team employs, the ability to retain possession is absolutely vital to success, and as the following table shows, many of Liverpool's players need to improve their ball retention skills.

A few points:

* EDIT: Just to clarify, 'Loss of possession' = losing the ball due to bad control and/or being dispossessed.

* For such an experienced player, Milner gives the ball away far too much, and in pure numbers, he - along with £30m-rated Coutinho - is the worst in the team for losing possession.

* As a comparison, consider Lucas Leiva - the Brazilian has given the ball away just 8 times in 850 minutes of Premier League football, which is superb in comparison to Milner (and Can).

* Lucas also didn't give the ball away once against Man United, Arsenal, West Ham, and Aston Villa, which is a great achievement, and underlines why he's a vital cog in the team.

* Lallana gave the ball away 12 times in one game against Spurs (!), which means that for the 81 minutes he was on the field, he lost possession every 6 minutes.

* That's not the worst result of the season, though. In the same game, Origi gave the ball away 13 times.

* Liverpool's defenders give the ball away far less than the midfielders and defenders. Skrtel, for example, has lost possession only 4 times this season, and Sakho 8 times. Moreno and Clyne are in the teens, but that's still far better than the likes of Milner, Can, and Lallana.

Hopefully Klopp will coach these errors out of the players. If Lucas can retain possession so well, why can't Milner, Can, and Lallana?

Author: Jaimie K


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