Liverpool endured a frustrating campaign last time out in the 2022/23 premier league season culminating in missing out on champions league football for the first time in seven seasons. The midfield came under immense scrutiny, with losses of form and injury to key players. However, Jurgen Klopp’s reds have since reconstructed their engine room with four new summer recruits replacing the outgoing James Milner, Naby Keita, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho. Arguably the most notable is the arrival of Hungarian captain Dominik Szobszlai for a £60 million pound fee from RB Leipzig.
Over the course of 12 premier league games so far this season, the sight of Dominik Szobszlai eating up the ground has become a familiar sight to Liverpool supporters. Inviting comparisons to the running power and dynamism Jordan Henderson brought to Klopp’s best Liverpool teams.
Delving a little deeper, what do the stats say about Szobszlai’s performances this season compared to Henderson’s last in a Liverpool shirt?
On the ball, Szobszlai has completed 28 key passes to Henderson’s 31, crucially achieving this in half the games played. Both the eye test and the stats suggest that Szobszlai is more incisive in the opponent’s half while maintaining a slightly higher pass completion rate. Szobszlai known for his dead ball specialist moniker, has shouldered that responsibility both for his national side and his previous club sides. At Liverpool he shares those duties with other players, yet the infographic above illustrates that Szobszlai has still taken more dead balls and free kicks than Henderson managed in the entirety of last season. Shot-creating-actions per 90 also favour the Hungarian, as do progressive carries up the pitch, with Szoboszlai boasting 33 compared to Henderson’s 37 in more than half the minutes played.
Defensively, there was a suggestion Liverpool’s midfield had lost its legs last season. The graphic above shows Szobszlai on average is bringing just as much off the ball as the former Liverpool captain with more impact on it.
Freelance football writer and avid statistician, Andrew Beasley, describes it as chalk and cheese, “the difference is staggering, stats nerds like me can point the difference out with numbers but anyone with a pair of eyes can see it”, Liverpool have a new midfield dynamo spearheading their fortunes.