Arne Slot may be the perfect fit for Liverpool – here are the statistics that show why

Statistics that show why Arne Slot may be perfect fit for Liverpool

Liverpool’s resurgence under Jürgen Klopp was aided by the smart implementation of data and Arne Slot’s emergence as a viable successor suggests the club are once again looking at the numbers.

The Dutch coach guided Feyenoord to their first league title in six years last season, breaking up Ajax’s period of dominance with aggressive, high-octane attacking football.

It certainly sounds an analogue for the ‘heavy metal’ style beloved by Klopp, but Slot has also studied Pep Guardiola’s training methods and emphasis on control through possession.

A fusion of the two approaches sounds intoxicating, though how Slot’s football would scale up to the sharp end of the Premier League is unknown.

This is the statistical case that may have persuaded Liverpool to move for a relatively left-field managerial option.

Defending from the front

Liverpool tactical identity under Klopp has been built upon ‘gegenpressing’, hounding opponents both when they build up and in the seconds after Liverpool have lost possession. Since Slot was appointed in 2021, Feyenoord have won possession in the final third more than any team in Europe’s top five leagues plus the Eredivisie 722 times. The team just behind them? Liverpool at 706. Over the same period, Feyenoord and Liverpool rank first and second for high turnovers won, and also take the top two places for pressed sequences (though Liverpool are on top in this metric).

Creating from turnovers

Klopp famously said that no playmaker in the world is as good as a well-executed counter-pressing situation, with Liverpool’s off-the-ball work an attacking weapon as well as a defensive one. Slot’s Feyenoord rank first across Europe’s top five leagues plus the Eredivisie for high turnovers resulting in shots with 201. Liverpool rank fourth in this metric with 182. Feyenoord have scored the most goals from high turnovers with 29, exceeding Liverpool’s 17. Both teams have scored 19 goals from direct attacks in league football since the start of the 2021-22 league season.

High defensive live

Pressurising teams high up the pitch requires defenders who are comfortable squeezing in behind their midfielders and attackers, even if it comes with the risk of leaving opponents space in behind. This is something Liverpool defenders Ibrahima Konaté and Virgil van Dijk excel at. One way of measuring the height or aggression of a team’s defending is start distance, which measures how far upfield a team’s open play sequences start in metres.

Across Europe’s top five leagues plus the Eredivisie since 2021, Feyenoord and Liverpool’s start distance is near-identical at 44.9 and 44.6 metres respectively. Only Manchester City have recorded a higher start distance. Liverpool have enjoyed more sequences of 10 or more passes than Slot’s Feyenoord. Liverpool’s passes per defensive action (see below)has been 9.7 to Feynoord’s 10.4, suggesting similar levels of intensity out of possession.

Expected goal over-performance

Since the start of the 2021-22 season, Liverpool have scored the third most goals in Europe’s top five leagues plus the Eredivisie with 244. Slot’s Feyenoord are just behind them with 234. Much like Liverpool at their peak under Klopp between 2018 and 2022, Slot’s team have shown signs that they can consistently score more goals than their expected goals produced suggests. This is generally viewed as a negative, with diminishing returns expected further down the line, but Liverpool use more advanced, cutting-edge tools to measure chance quality. They will hope Slot has shown a capacity to produce the hefty goalscoring haul required to challenge City.

Arne Slot and his methods

Slot's Feyenoord were built on a shoestring but delivered fierce pressing and exciting attacking football

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