When you take a keen interest in statistics, unusual performances tend to stick out. Even Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo only average about six shots every 90 minutes, so if mere mortals like Sadio Mané (at Tottenham recently) or Mohamed Salah (in the following match at West Ham) have seven shots, it flicks a switch in the giant spreadsheet you call a brain.
In these days of increasingly advanced metrics, not everything is so easy to assess. Even so, there was one number from Diogo Jota’s performance in the ‘home’ match with RB Leipzig which drew the eye. In his second start since his return from injury he made 24 pressures, the most any Liverpool player had recorded in any of the last seven matches at that point, and that despite only spending 72 minutes on the pitch.
He wasn’t the only Red to return in style in that match either. Fabinho made his first start in midfield for five months, and marked the occasion by making seven interceptions. Is that a lot? Well, it’s the only instance so far this season of a Liverpool player recording more than four.
Add in the Brazilian’s four tackles, and it became one of only three examples of a Red hitting double figures for tackles and interceptions combined in 2020/21. However, another instance occurred in the same match, with Thiago Alcantara recording seven tackles and three interceptions. Were Liverpool so overrun in that game? It didn’t feel that way while watching it at the time.
The key to the puzzle was that Jürgen Klopp’s side only had 40% possession against the kings of caffeinated energy drinks, making it one of only four instances in their 37 matches in league and Europe this season in which they’ve attempted less than half of the total passes (per FBRef).
Factor that in, and suddenly Trent Alexander-Arnold’s efforts in the 3-1 defeat at Leicester – where he made 10 tackles and an interception – become even more impressive as the Reds owned the ball for 62% of the time it was in play that afternoon.
We can possession-adjust the stats to figure out how many actions a player made if the possession had theoretically been a 50/50 split between the two teams in a match. Doing so determines that Fabinho ‘effectively’ made 9.2 tackles and interceptions against Leipzig compared to Alexander-Arnold’s 14.5 against the Foxes. Advantage, Trent.
With that in mind, we’ll be taking a look at some of the top performances in some less heralded statistics from 2020/21, with the aim of highlighting some herculean efforts which passed you by. We’ll also look at metrics with a good variety at the top of their tables, to help keep things interesting. This article may not generate much debate – my nerdapaloozas rarely do – but hopefully there’ll be some points of interest along the way.
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