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Cody Gakpo has just done something no Liverpool player did last season to prove Jamie Carragher right

Cody Gakpo has just done something no Liverpool player did last season to prove Jamie Carragher right

Although he was undoubtedly a successful signing for Liverpool, the player only managed to score 15 goals in the league during his first year and a half in England. It can take time for players to adjust to the higher level of football in a new country.

Transfers from the Netherlands are often met with caution due to the underwhelming performances of many players who have made the move, especially in comparison to Suarez.

However, doubts about Cody Gakpo’s ability are quickly disappearing. The 23-year-old has already scored four important goals for Liverpool against Everton, Newcastle, and Manchester United.

Opta’s Michael Reid has pointed out that Gakpo is only the 10th Liverpool player to score against their two biggest rivals in their debut season with the club, which is sure to endear him to the Kopites.

Following his two-goal performance (his first since October) in the 7-0 victory over United, Gakpo was asked to choose which of his goals was the better one. “Most beautiful was the second one, the most important was the first one,” was his reply, and his response was accurate in more than aesthetic terms.

During the game, Gakpo scored a goal at the Kop end that was described by Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football as “an absolute wow moment.”

This goal brought to mind a famous goal scored by Philippe Coutinho in a Europa League match against Manchester United at Old Trafford. In both cases, the Liverpool player chipped the ball over David de Gea from an extremely tight angle in a stunning manner.

With the help of detailed data analysis in football, we can now better understand the quality of Gakpo’s goal.

According to Opta’s post-shot expected goal model, which takes into account the placement of the goal attempt as well as where it was struck from, Gakpo’s effort was almost impossible to save.

Opta’s post-shot expected goal model rated Gakpo’s goal at 0.96, which was the strongest shot any Liverpool player has delivered in the league or Europe this season. The only better effort in any of their games was Ruben Neves’ strike for Wolves’ third goal at Molineux, which was rated at 0.97. However, in standard expected goal terms, Neves’ chance was already a 0.65 opportunity, while Gakpo’s goal against United was only rated at 0.21, meaning he had to do much more to reach the upper nineties.

In addition to his impressive goal against United, Gakpo also took a chance worth 0.07 xG and turned it into a goal with a finishing touch, scoring in the first half of the game. This is in line with a trend in his recent career of making already high-value opportunities even better through his finishing.

In the Premier League, Gakpo has an expected goal tally of 2.8, but after factoring in his finishing, his total increases to 3.4. This improvement in finishing should not be overlooked, as last season, Liverpool’s top five forwards all fell short of their expected goals total according to the post-shot model.

Gakpo’s finishing abilities were also evident during the World Cup, where he scored three of his first four shots, adding 0.69, 0.14, and 0.34 to the attempts that found the net.

During his time at PSV in the Eredivisie this season, the Dutch international improved his expected goals total of 6.4 to 8.9 after factoring in his finishing. It was uncertain whether he could maintain this margin in the more challenging conditions of the Premier League, but he has still managed to exceed his expected goals total and he has only just begun his Liverpool career.

“That finish, that’s world class,” was Carragher’s verdict on the forward’s second goal against United.

The analysis supports the view of the former Liverpool player turned pundit that Gakpo has a lot more to offer to Jurgen Klopp’s team, and he has only just begun to showcase his abilities as a £40m signing.

Cody Gakpo has just done something no Liverpool player did last season to prove Jamie Carragher right

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