Ex-Red says Liverpool need Steven Caulker, but what do the stats say?

Steven Caulker

Ex-Liverpool defender John Scales wants Brendan Rodgers to plump for Cardiff City's Steven Caulker in a bid to sure up the Reds' suspect back-line.

After their much-publicised title capitulation it is no secret where the deficiencies lie in Brendan Rodgers’ team. That would be his jittery back-line, and speaking on Sky on Wednesday, ex-Liverpool defender John Scales has suggested Steven Caulker as an alternative to the Reds manager’s current three first choices: Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Mamadou Sakho.

“When you look at Liverpool you have to say that conceding 50 Premier League goals is not title-winning material,” Scales says.

The defender, who played for the Reds from 1994-96, wants clear leadership and better communication across the defensive-line and thinks Cardiff City’s highly-rated 22-year-old may be the man to provide it.

“Steven Caulker is a player who’s gone to Cardiff and done a fantastic job and who is far too good for the Championship in my opinion,” suggest Scales.

But does the ex-Liverpool defender have a point? Our Opta comparison suggests a mixed statistical bag and you can see why below:

1) DEFENSIVE BLOCK COMPARISON

  TeamPosOutfielder Block / appsAppsMins
Steven Caulker Cardiff DF 1.55 38 3,420
Martin Skrtel Liverpool DF 1.06 36 3,222
Daniel Agger Liverpool DF 0.40 20

1,420

Mamadou Sakho Liverpool DF 0.39 18 1,480

Would Crystal Palace have scored three goals in such a short period if Caulker was on the pitch as opposed to Skrtel or Sakho?

His blocking stats suggest he may have got closer to Dwight Gayle and prevented the result that ultimately put an end to their title hopes for another season.

2) COMPARISON OF TACKLES WON

  TeamPosWon Tackle / appsAppsMins
Mamadou Sakho Liverpool DF 1.39 18 1,480
Daniel Agger Liverpool DF 1.00 20 1,420
Martin Skrtel Liverpool DF 1.00 36 3,222
Steven Caulker Cardiff DF 0.82 38 3,420

Steven Gerrard has referred to Sakho as a "beast" and it appears once he gets his tackles in, they tend to work.

Given that the Frenchman has been at Anfield for less than a year, maybe he just needs to improve his positioning, meaning Caulker would not be required.

3) INTERCEPTIONS WON

  TeamPosInterception Won / appsAppsMins
Martin Skrtel Liverpool DF 1.67 36 3,222
Mamadou Sakho Liverpool DF 1.50 18 1,480
Steven Caulker Cardiff DF 1.24 38 3,420
Daniel Agger Liverpool DF 1.05 20 1,420

Perhaps Caulker's reading of the game would improve, especially given the style of play and attacking threats he would face at Anfield as opposed to the Cardiff City Stadium?

Again, his stats are no disgrace though. For a defender in a side in disarray that were eventually relegated he continually performed well and can hold his head high.

CONCLUSION:

There is largely conflicting statistical evidence that, while certainly putting Caulker in the frame, does not mark him out as the perfect solution to Liverpool's problems. Whether he would be able to markedly improve his all-round game in a Liverpool shirt remains to be seen.

 

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch