As noted by people on Twitter, Liverpool’s results in the last seven Carroll starts (after Bolton): WWDWDWW; but the last seven without Carroll starting (after Oldham): DDLLLLL. That’s quite some contrast.
TTT’s senior data analyst Dan Kennett posted some great stats on the eve of the Wigan game in the site’s comments section (which is worth the subscription fee on its own!).
(Even yesterday’s game, though not included, saw Liverpool do better with him on the pitch – ‘drawing’ 1-1 – than the 1-0 ‘defeat’ of the first half.)
Liverpool (All Comps): P40 Win%=50, Points Per Game = 1.78
Carroll starts: P22 W13 D5 L4, Win%=59, Points Per Game = 2.00
Carroll doesn’t start: P18 W7 D6 L5, Win%=39, Points Per Game = 1.50
In terms of ‘difficulty’:
Carroll starts vs Teams higher in PL than Liverpool (All Comps v Arsenal, Chelsea, City, United, Newcastle, Spurs)
P8 W5 D1 L2, Win%=63, Points Per Game = 2.00
Carroll starts vs “the rest”
P14 W8 D4 L2, Win%=57, Points Per Game = 2.00
No Carroll start vs Teams higher
P6 W1 D3 L2, Win%=17, Points Per Game = 1.00
No Carroll start vs “the rest”
P12 W6 D3 L3, Win%=50, Points Per Game = 1.75
I think this is fascinating. Not only are the team’s results significantly better when Carroll plays, but the results with Carroll are exactly the same (2 points per game), whether versus “hard” or “easy” teams!
(Dan has subsequently worked out these stats across Carroll’s entire time at Liverpool and posted them in the site’s debate section, and they remain impressive.)
While Liverpool’s game can be less easy on the eye with Carroll in the side, and the goals have not flowed for the no.9 as hoped, he’s certainly playing better of late; at least he was, until he started being left out.
There are too many other factors to prove conclusively that playing Carroll will lead to better results, but it’s better to have non-scoring strikers who help win games (through other contributions) than to have someone banging in a goal a game in 2-1 defeats. Either way, it’s food for thought.