Statistical Analysis: Is Luis Suarez doing enough versus the top teams?

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Fulham FC

Luis Suarez came close to scoring two marvelous goals against Arsenal and was a menacing presence throughout the game on Saturday. That being said, his side scored five goals, yet he was not on the score sheet. Luis Suarez has failed to score against top four opposition in four attempts this season and the Daily Mail recently published a graphic showing that he’s scored six against top four sides in 23 appearances. What can we make of this? And how does Suarez compare to other top four strikers?

Statistical analysis:

Goals scored Goals scored versus bottom half opposition Goals scored versus top four Percentage of goals versus top half
Luis Suarez 23 19 0 (4) 17%
Daniel Sturridge 15 11 1 (2) 27%
Sergio Aguero 15 7 2 (2) 53%
Samuel Eto’o 6 2 1 (3) 67%
Olivier Giroud 10 6 0 (4) 40%
Alvaro Negredo 9 5 2 (4) 44%

Only 17% of Luis Suarez’s goals have come against teams in the top half, equating to just four of his 23 goals. In fact, 61% of his goals (14) came against teams in the bottom five. In contrast to this Sergio Aguero scored twice in two appearances versus top four opposition and netted over half of his goals versus teams in the top half of the table (eight), although Suarez has outscored him by eight goals.

Aguero though has scored more gals against top half opposition than any of the players listed above. Samuel Eto’o has a good percentage on this because he has scored so few goals (relatively) and as such four goals versus top half opposition statistically means he has scored 67% of his goals versus teams in the top half of the table. This is the same figure as Suarez. Aguero’s team-mate Alvaro Negredo has also been impressive against the ‘better’ teams having scored two in four. Olivier Giroud, like Suarez, has failed to score against a side in the top four and has scored the same number of goals, four, versus sides in the top half.

What does this mean?

It’s tempting to write Suarez off as a flat track bully. The stats plainly show that he hasn’t been as productive against ‘better’ teams. That being said anybody who watched Liverpool versus Arsenal can testify that he was brilliant and did everything but score including hitting a brilliant half volley against the post.

There are many reasons for him being less productive against the top sides. One is that he is working harder when the side are off the ball and also that he does a lot of creating. Against Arsenal he made four chances for his team-mates for example and as noted, was brilliant throughout. Liverpool host Chelsea and Manchester City before the end of the season and it would be surprising if Suarez didn’t register one or two goals against these sides in front of the Anfield faithful.

Does it matter?

One might argue that it doesn’t even matter. You get the same amount of points for beating any side in the league and goals versus the top four teams don’t count for more. Liverpool have though lost three of their four fixtures versus top four opposition and will thus want Suarez (as he did against Arsenal and to a degree Man City) to turn up and run riot as they know he can. Suarez is brilliant and this is not to detract from his undeniable quality. It is merely quite an interesting observation that he is most productive against the ‘lesser’ teams. Part of this is because said teams are less effective at defending deep or parking the bus perhaps. Nobody would be surprised though if Suarez went on to score three or four against Fulham mid-week though.

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