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Saturday, 13 May 2017

Llorente: Lion King

With just 2 games left, it's going to require a huge team effort to get over the line and although I'd love to think we'll be safe by Sunday afternoon, I think it'll go down to the final game. One of the key things that's even kept us in with a chance is the goal scoring of Fernando Llorente.

Over the course of his career, Llorente has focused on doing his work 6-10 yards out from goal which is a large reason why any criticism of his sprint stats is misguided. As with any stat, context is king and Llorente's relative lack of sprinting isn't the sign of a lazy player, more one who is doing what he's good at and what he's been told to do. If you used him for an aggressive press you'd end up with the worst of both worlds, it wouldn't be very effective and you'd also then knacker him out making him less effective.

Llorente's shot location in the League games over the last 5 seasons, focused on the danger zone
For the Swans, the location map is pretty similar, he has 13 goals from his 50 shots with anything long range at a minimum:
Majority of Llorente's activity is within 10 yards of goal
Not surprisingly, an awful lot of that shot activity are headers with 35 of Llorente's 50 shots (and 7 of his 13 goals) coming via his head.
Opta have reclassified his goal v Everton as 'Other Body Part' but I'm keeping it as a header
Llorente using his head a lot is no big surprise but the fact that 70% of his attempts were headers actually puts him quite a way out in front of 'similar' players (Rondon 42%, Benteke 47% and Crouch 50%), also no surprise that he has more headed shots than today's opponent Jermain Defoe but was interesting that 0 of Defoe's 96 attempts have been headers.

One thing that should be highlighted though is the comparison with Llorente's fellow Spaniard Baston. Looking at things now, Llorente seems a massive success (and supposedly coveted by Chelsea during the Jan transfer window) and Baston a flop.

Comparing their figures though, Baston has scored 1 goal in his 549 Premier League minutes. The fact that those minutes are spread across 18 games (athough only 4 starts) makes it feel as if he's had plenty of chances and not taken them.

As a comparison, in the first 549 league minutes Llorente played, he also scored only 1 goal. You could argue it's taken time for Llorente to settle in and for the team to work out how to make the most of him but surely you could put the same case forward for Baston.

Whether he'll come good at some point is difficult to tell but certainly too soon to write him off, even if this season (at least so far) has been a bit of a waste for him.

Opta Data via Statszone, Whoscored  Squawka