Premier League 2011-12: Game changers pt1

Having used the MCFC Analytics / Opta data for my previous post on team formations, I am continuing to collate and group it into team data sets to try and see if I can find any interesting trends or analyses that may help to highlight manager/team strengths and weaknesses.

This post reviews substitutions: the frequency they are used, average playing time and goals scored.

Team # substitutions Subs per game Sub mins Ave mins per sub Sub goals Goals per sub Winning goals by sub 0 subs?
Arsenal 109 2.87 1959 17.97 6 0.06 3
Aston Villa 94 2.47 1815 19.31 2 0.02 1
Blackburn Rovers 87 2.29 2151 24.72 3 0.03 0 1 vs MU (H)
Bolton Wanderers 104 2.74 2056 19.77 2 0.02 2
Chelsea 105 2.76 2299 21.90 7 0.07 2
Everton 111 2.92 2081 18.75 10 0.09 3
Fulham 85 2.24 1521 17.89 1 0.01 0 2 vs WBA, Bolton (H)
Liverpool 91 2.39 1720 18.90 4 0.04 1
Manchester City 110 2.89 1952 17.75 15 0.14 2
Manchester United 100 2.63 2194 21.94 7 0.07 0 1 vs Liverpool (H)
Newcastle United 112 2.95 2158 19.27 6 0.05 2
Norwich City 111 2.92 2350 21.17 9 0.08 2
Queens Park Rangers 92 2.42 1867 20.29 7 0.08 2 1 vs Swans (A)
Stoke City 107 2.82 2372 22.17 4 0.04 1
Sunderland 92 2.42 1824 19.83 4 0.04 1
Swansea City 94 2.47 1859 19.78 3 0.03 1
Tottenham Hotspur 94 2.47 1719 18.29 5 0.05 1
West Bromwich Albion 101 2.66 1733 17.16 6 0.06 0
Wigan Athletic 102 2.68 2080 20.39 5 0.05 1
Wolverhampton Wanderers 108 2.84 2278 21.09 3 0.03 1
Total 2009 2.64 39988 19.90 109 0.05 26 5

Of course, in a premier league game a manager can make 3 substitutions. Last season, the average subs used per game by each team was 2.64 i.e. on most occasions a manager uses his full allocation of substitiutes. The managers most likely to use all 3 subs were Alan Pardew (Newcastle, 2.95 subs per game), Paul Lambert and David Moyes (Norwich and Everton, both 2.92). Substitutions are clearly of partcular importance to these managers, whether for tactical reasons, to help combat fatigue, squad rotate or simply run down the clock towards the end of a game. In Alan Pardew’s case I suspect the latter tactic was possibly used more than most, since the average number of minutes a Newcastle substitute played was 19.3mins, below the league average of 19.9mins.

The managers least likely to use all 3 subs in a game were Martin Jol, Steve Kean and Kenny Dalglish (2.24 subs per game, 2.29 and 2.39 respectively). Martin Jol used his bench warmers less than average, and unfortunately for them they were given a paltry 17.9mins playing time per game. Although Steve Kean didn’t use his subs as often as most managers, when he did he made sure they got a decent runaround: his substitutes had easily the longest average playing time in the league of 24.7mins.

Only on 5 occasions last season did a team not make any substitutions (Fulham: 2, Blackburn, Man Utd, QPR: 1).

Those statistics on substitutes will probably only interest the most serious football nerds (like me), so how about some information on managers who brought on super-subs? Well, this paragraph belongs to Roberto Mancini. An amazing 15 substitutes for Man City scored after being brought on, well above the average of 5.45 substitute goals. Dzeko’s contribution to the mayhem on the last day of the season was probably his most important goal from a total of 4 he scored coming off the bench. Perhaps you would think that since Man City won the league the statistic of 15 goals from substitutes isn’t that impressive, however for Ferguson and Wenger who both made an almost identical number of substitutions, their subs only scored 7 and 6 goals respectively. Certainly the attacking firepower Man City had on the bench last season was a significant weapon, perhaps if Jol had Aguero/Balotelli/Dzeko/Tevez on his bench throughout the season he would have used his substitutes more! Nevertheless the 8 goal differential between City and Utd from substitutes also tallies with City’s superior end of season goal difference of +8 that handed the title to the sky blues.

When it comes to goals per substitution, Mancini is easily top with 0.14 goals per sub, whilst David Moyes follows with 0.09. Martin Jol comes out worst with 0.01 goals per sub (no wonder he didn’t want to use his subs too often).

Winning goals scored by substitutes are harder to come by (and therefore more difficult to apportion any meaningful insight). However, Mancini doesn’t fare quite so well here, with only 2 out of the 15 subs goals scored classified by Opta as a winning goal (Balotelli’s efforts at home against Everton and Spurs). Wenger and Moyes topped the charts with 3 winning goals per sub apiece – very memorably for Arsenal fans this included Thierry Henry’s late winner at Sunderland in February. Four managers failed to bring on a sub who scored the winner: Ferguson, Hodgson, Jol (surprise, surprise) and Kean.

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One thought on “Premier League 2011-12: Game changers pt1

  1. Pingback: MCFC Analytics–Summary of blog posts #3 « Analyse Football

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