Football Features

Liverpool’s super subs aiding them on quest for Premier League glory

By Harry Edwards

Published: 15:40, 29 February 2024

Liverpool’s 3-0 FA Cup win over Southampton in midweek brought a familiar sight for Reds fans.

Jayden Danns came off the bench to score twice for Jurgen Klopp’s side, adding to Lewis Koumas’ first-half goal, setting up an FA Cup quarter-final with Manchester United.

At lot has been said about Liverpool’s injury problems at the moment, but Klopp is managing just fine, especially when it comes to using his full squad depth. Perhaps better than most this season, Klopp has made influential substitutions in the Premier League to turn games in Liverpool’s favour.

It’s one of the reasons Liverpool are top of the league. One of the most recent examples of this was in Liverpool’s 4-1 win over Brentford. Three of the Reds’ four goals at the Gtech Community Stadium involved substitutes.

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Alexis Mac Allister (who started) scored Liverpool’s second, set up by substitute Mohamed Salah; Salah then scored the third, assisted by fellow substitute Cody Gakpo; and Gakpo scored the fourth.

Another such result came against Crystal Palace in December, when substitute Curtis Jones assisted the equaliser and Harvey Barnes came off the bench to score the winner in a 2-1 win at Selhurst Park. Speaking after that game, Klopp said: “And you saw today, subs can make a massive difference. It’s actually their job. Harvey played a wonderful game and scored a wonderful goal, I’m so happy for him.

“Curtis came on, really strong, Joe Gomez, oh my god. Cody and I’ve forgotten who else we brought on, so we changed system and it all worked out.”

An all too familiar sight for Liverpool and their opponents, the Reds have actually had more direct goal involvements from substitutes than any other side in the Premier League this season.

In total, Liverpool have had 21 goals and assists from their substitutes in the Premier League this season — three more than closest rivals Arsenal (18). The Reds have had nine different players at least score or assist once as a substitute this season, second only to Newcastle’s 10.

Gakpo and Darwin Nunez lead the way for Liverpool, with four goals and assists as substitutes this season. As mentioned, Gakpo had one goal and one assist in the 4-1 win over Brentford after coming off the bench, also recording an assist in the 4-0 win over Bournemouth and scoring in the 4-2 win against Newcastle — the winning goal against the latter.

Nunez also had his best game as a substitute against Newcastle, scoring twice from the bench in the final 10 minutes to secure a 2-1 win early in the season. He also assisted off the bench in wins over Everton and Sheffield United, both in injury time for 2-0 wins.

Liverpool travel to the City Ground to face Nottingham Forest this weekend, a team that haven’t been as great with their substitutions this season. It all started so well for Forest, when subs Anthony Elanga and Taiwo Awoniyi combined to pull a goal back against Arsenal on the opening weekend, though it would only be a consolation.

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In the next game, Chris Wood scored off the bench against Sheffield United and then, two matches later, Elanga netted as a substitute to beat Chelsea. So that’s four goals/assists from substitutes in their opening four games. But since then, Nottingham Forest have only seen three direct goal involvements from subsitutes.

Seven in total, just five teams have had fewer direct goal involvements from subs than Forest this season. The are four teams tied with six, while West Ham are the worst, seeing just two direct goal involvements from subs.

Top 10 Premier League super subs

As mentioned, Gakpo and Nunez have both been directly involved in four goals as substitutes this season. But they aren’t the best super subs in the Premier League.

That honour falls to Leon Bailey, who has scored or assists six times after coming on from the bench this season.

Joao Pedro and Scott McTominay complete the top three with five direct goal involvements, before a group of five including Gakpo and Nunez on four.