Head To Head Stats: Berra (Wolves) vs Agger (Liverpool FC)

Let’s go statistical again.  Paddytheflea tries to analyse representatives from the teams that will meet on Boxing Day. The reason is that it may bring a deeper insight about the differences between players and teams. So her we go.

We start this weekends competitors with two representatives from the defence.(if you want to read about two midfielders go HERE) The first pair out in the Boxing Day ring are:

Christophe Berra, 24, is a central defender of Wolverhampton Wanderers. He was born in Scotland and progressed through the Youth system of Hearts. In 2002 he joined their first team. He made his first matches in the season of 2003-4 but started to play more matches and making more of an impact in the following season. He was made the youngest captain in the Scottish PL in the season of 2006-7. That season also saw him playing in the qualifiers for the Champions League as well as in the UEFA-cup.

Wolves started to recognise him during the 2007-8 season and at the end of it they tried to tie him to the team, but without luck as Hearts lacked manager at the moment. But in the January window they were lucky to sign him for the club. Berra made his first international start in March 2009 against Holland. He played sixteen matches for Wolves last spring – often together with Jody Craddock as a central defender – and helped the team reach the Premier League. His pairing with Craddock has been very successful this season as well and he has so far played 13 matches for Wolves

Daniel Agger, 25, is a central defender of Liverpool. He is born in Hvidovre, Denmark and a Danish international. He joined the Youth Team of Brøndby IF at an age of twelve and joined their senior squad in 2004. He immediately took a regular place in the team that won the Danish Danish Superliga the season of 2004-5 and was named the talent of the year.

That summer he was called to play his first international matches and Denmark met England and Agger -only twenty at the time – caused all sorts of problems for Wayne Rooney and others. In September he was injured, though, but the rumour about the talented Dane was already out and in the January window Liverpool signed him on.

He saw more injury in that first season and played only four games. But the season of 2006-7 he played more, despite fears competition from Carragher and Hyypiä for the two spots at central defence. He scored a beautiful first goal from 35 yards out. It was the Goal Of The Month. He also played in the Champions League Final that Liverpool lost to Milan.

He missed almost all the season 2007-8 to injury, but last season he managed to break into the team again with some difficulty. He played eighteen league games. In spring he signed up for four more years with the club. This year in August he had surgery on a recurring back injury and was out for two months. He has played nine matches for Liverpool since then.

Let’s put Christophe Berra and Daniel Agger head-to-head and compare the stats of the Scot and the Dane for this season so far.

Season 2009-10
Berra Agger
Fouls won and / conceded / % won
19 /22/46%
12/5/71%
Tackles won and / lost / % won
24/5 /83%
12/4/75%
Accurate passes % / Attacks created
63% / 5
75% /1
Goals / Assists / Shots on goal
0 /3 /3
0/ 0 /1

O.K. Let’s go about interpreting these figures in hope of getting some valuable information about the players and their teams out of them.

Fouls: As I always say. Conceiving fouls could be very costly when you play in a centre-back position. Players are getting more and more skilful at set pieces and a larger percent of goals comes from set pieces every year. Berra concedes – as Craddock – too many fouls to the advantage of the opposing teams . Agger wins much more fouls than he loses, but he seems to be much less involved in these situations than Berra.

Tackles: Berra tackles a lot. He is a very physical defender and he wins a lot of the tackles as well. Almost as high a percentage as Craddock. Agger only uses tackles half as much as Berra and is less good at it – as it seem. Although he is also seen as a physical defender, he can not measure up to the skills of Berra in this area.

Passes and Attacks: We already know that Wolves as a team does not excel at passing the ball around. And Berra is no better than Craddock in this area. His average is only 63% but against Burnley he almost reached 70%. Agger has not been that much better this season, but Liverpool as a team are known to be good at passing the ball. But maybe something has happened here?! Last season Agger had an average of 83% correct passes, this year he is down to 75%. Is it Agger that has lost some of his passing skills or are other members of his team to blame for this? Or are the team under more pressure from opposing teams this season compared with last and finds it harder to uphold their famous passing play?  I checked the stats for Carragher this and last season and he has dropped five percent in accurate passing this season, so it is possible that the last statement might be right.

Centre backs are usually not the ones that creates attacks. But Christophe Berra of Wolves goes forward quite a lot. He has created five attacks for Wolves so far this season. Agger has created only one for Liverpool. But in the Liverpool team it seem to be Carragher who sometimes goes forward with three attacks created.

Goals, Assists and Shots on goal: It is not unusual that centre-backs often join up on set pieces to get a head or a leg to the ball in the opposing teams penalty area. Christophe Berra has not been as lucky as his friend Jody Craddock in scoring, but he has assisted to three goals. He has also had three shots on goal so far. Agger has only created one shot on goal in seven attempts. The same amount of attempts as Berra. It can be concluded that Berra is much better at going forward than Agger.

Conclusions: Christophe Berra and Daniel Agger are two very important players for their respective team. Berra is the more frequent and better tackler, but he conceives much more fouls in his actions than the Dane. This could be a disadvantage for the team as set pieces could cause problems in front of goal. Agger is the better passer of the two, but his passing has declined this season and last match Berra did very well in the area. There are signs that Liverpools free-flowing passing play is not what it has been in previous seasons.

Berra excels in creating attacks and has made three assists to goals from his team mates. Agger is not a stranger going forward in matches, but does not seem to create any attacks or to assist to goals. He has no precision in his shots and rarely hits on goal.

If Berra could continue to better his passing play he would be the better player of the two. Much of it does not – however – rest on Berra. Wolves as a team fighting for their existence in the league have central defenders that are under a lot more of pressure and will be forced to kick the ball away to fend their own goal much more than a central defender of Liverpool.

But there are signs that the Liverpool team is sat under pressure a lot more this season. These signs can be seen in this data as well. Which player should I choose to sign if I had an option today? I think the data shows that Christophe Berra is as good a player as Daniel Agger. And he is better at going forward. He did only cost Wolves £2,3 million a year ago and Agger was signed for £5 millions four years ago. I would go for Christophe Berra!

Paddytheflea

(P.S.if you don’t agree with my conclusions, draw your own.D.S.)

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~ by paddytheflea on December 25, 2009.

10 Responses to “Head To Head Stats: Berra (Wolves) vs Agger (Liverpool FC)”

  1. Paddy:

    Like the articles, and what you are trying to do. One point. Tackles are not the only way a defender can win the ball back. Indeed, some managers are more pleased if their centerback doesn’t tackle as much. Maldini would routinely go through entire legs of champions league ties without making a single tackle, but his superb positioning, reading of the game and organizing of the entire AC Milan back line meant that Milan would inevitably progress.

    I view the tackle stat with some disdain, although it is good to know that Wolves last line is somewhat up to it.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you yun!
      And I do agree very much with your point. It is hard to picture in stats the work players do without the ball. But we still can reveal something with the stats available.

  2. when making a statement such as:

    “I think the data shows that Christophe Berra is as good a player as Daniel Agger. And he is better at going forward. He did only cost Wolves £2,3 million a year ago and Agger was signed for £5 millions four years ago.”

    …did you ever consider looking at their career stats?

    here’s how they read:

    Berra: 150 games, 4 goals (club); 7 games, 0 goals (country)
    Agger: 96 games, 10 goals (club); 29 games, 3 goals (country)

    that comes out to an average of a goal every 9-10 games for agger, and a goal every 37-38 games (thats a full season….) for berra….

    how you can say berra is better going forward than agger is an astonishment.

    however, if you choose to base your opinion of players simply by the previous 3-4 months, could you at least show the number of games/minutes played? agger’s been out injured for portions of this season (not sure if berra has), so its one thing to say berra has twice the tackles as agger, but if he’s played four times as many games, he’s actually doing so at a lower frequency or success rate….

    in any case, after having read this and the one on the midfielders, i am incredibly interested to see how you will color your statistics for the striker comparison.

    for what your goals are, you have a mighty task before you.

    • Berra has played 1170 minutes and Agger 731, ikhiloju.
      And yes! The meaning of this exercise was precisely to base an opinion simply by data from the previous 3-4 months. That is what the betting companies does and they make a lot of money on that. What Agger did in the Danish national team a year ago is worth zit tomorrow I can assure you. It is his capacity tomorrow I am interested in, not what he did for Brøndby four years ago and that has no bearing whatsoever in how he will perform tomorrow.

      • so i take it you don’t believe that “form is temporary, class is permanent” because, across the breadth of their careers, agger has been a more promising centreback – he’s contributed more in attack (by a wide margin) and been an integral member in one of the tightest defenses in not only the prem, but europe as a whole. the fact that he’s got three fewer assists and two fewer shots on target in an injury-hit season means about as much tomorrow as what he did for brondby years ago….because when the game comes, i know who i would fear taking the ball out of defense more….

      • Form and dedication beats class all the time, ikhiloju. And there was a time when Liverpool had a tight defense, but that time is no more. And your manager seem to have made the wrong choices on the market and because of this he will be on that market himself very soon I believe. Berra is in the beginning of his Premier League career and he will get better and better the coming five years. Agger is on his peak already. In three years there will be no doubt who is the best player of the two.

  3. jesus christ this is the worst comparison of the lot. agger is the best player to come out of denmark in a long time and you compare him with berra? wtf? agger has played 9 times this season half as many as berra…did you also know that agger has a scoring rate of 1 goal every 9 games? no? agger is the best defender in the league at going forward and sound at defending, don’t just look at this season look at his career stats or dont copare at all. next you’re going to do aquilani against one of your shite mids and say they are better. HAHA cant wait. COME ON YOU REDS DESTROY THEM!

  4. berra will never be anywhere near aggers level, ever. agger is only 25 so he still hasnt reached his peak and he is nowhere near playing at his best at the mo, when he does tho you will see his class.

  5. […] matches but one for Liverpool in the league and replaced the Dane Agger (se earlier Head-To-Head HERE) from the starting eleven. He has played 37 matches for Slovakia and scored five times. Martin […]

  6. […] have already compared two central defenders (HERE) and two midfielders (HERE) and it is time to take on two […]

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