What Happens If We Lose Suarez?

A grossly-oversimplified, but not completely useless look at the stats from 2013/14

What happens if Suarez goes? To make a guess, first let's look at the numbers from last year with and without Suarez:

net_gfp90 net_gap90 net_p90 minutes appearances Avg. Points Proj 38 Games
Suarez 1.62 0.13 1.49 2970 33 2.24 85.12
No Suarez -0.44 -0.81 0.37 450 5 2 76


net_gfp90 = "Net Goals For Per 90"

net_gap90 = "Net Goals Against Per 90"

net_p90 = "Goal Differential Per 90"

Now one might conclude that when Suarez came back into the lineup that we scored two more goals per game (and earned .24 more points per game), and this is true. However we must be careful to remember that correlation is not the same thing as causation, i.e. we can't conclude that because Suarez returned we scored two extra goals a game. There are a lot of extra factors, not the least of which is our tactical shift somewhere in early December from trying to defend 1-goal leads to throwing caution to the wind and going for All the Goalz.

So, is there a way to isolate the true Suarez impact? Of course there is! Here's a new chart, but this one shows us the stats with and without Suarez, in the pre-"Score Moar Goalz" era (before 12/7/13):

net_gfp90 net_gap90 net_p90 minutes appearances Avg. Points Proj 38 Games
Suarez 1.37 0.42 0.95 810 9 1.89 71.82
No Suarez -0.44 -0.81 0.37 450 5 2 76

Interesting! But I don't think we should jump to conclusions and declare that Liverpool are better off (in terms of points) without #7. At the very least what we we can say is a team with a more defensive mindset with Luis Suarez is worse off than a team with a more aggressive tactic, both in terms of goal differential and points.

The summary is this (with all due caveats and apologies for the small sample size)...

  1. Luis Suarez is worth somewhere between -4 and +9 points to Liverpool.
  2. If you look at top chart "with Suarez" and project out for an entire season, that gives us 85 points - one more than we actually earned. That one extra point would have been earned in the 5 games he was out. One extra point for every five games comes out to 7.6 points in a 38 game season.

In other words, if we lose Luis Suarez (and do not improve elsewhere), we will lose points, somewhere in the neighborhood of seven. We've already improved elsewhere so the true impact will probably be far less than most would imagine.

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