Monthly Archives: December 2012

FIFA top 30 stalwarts

The following nations have never dropped outside of FIFA’s top 30 ranking, since its inception in 1993.

It may surprise some that England are on this shortlist of 8 nations. Their lowest ranking ever was 27th in February 1996.

Link to the graph is here.

FIFA top 30 stalwarts  


Current top 10 FIFA ranked countries

Here is another viz of FIFA rankings, this time looking at just the current top 10 countries and their movement since 1993.

Ignoring Croatia, whose position in the top 40 has been reasonably secure since it gained that status, Colombia’s position has been the most volatile: it ranges from a high of 4 in 1996 and 2002 and yet dropped as low as 77 in 2010.

A link to the graph is here, if all else fails.

Rankings since inception for the current top 10 ranked footballing nations by FIFA

Feeding off scraps in the Premier League?

Having looked at the top scoring strikers in the league in a previous post on the race for the golden boot, I now turn my attention to shooting statistics for the leading target men at teams in the bottom half of the table. Players for these teams often ply their trade as a lone striker, with less than average support from midfield. As a result the pressure on them to score every gilt-edged chance is high since every goal is precious for their club to ensure survival.

After only 16 games of the season played these players all have 6 goals or less, so each goal or missed opportunity has a strong bearing on their stats (disclaimer!).

The strikers considered this time round are Djibril Cissé (QPR), Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Adam Le Fondre (Reading), Arouna Koné (Wigan) and Rickie Lambert (Southampton). Cissé, who has played the least in terms of outfield minutes, has also scored the least with only 2 goals for winless QPR. Rickie Lambert is the most prolific goalscorer so far with 6 goals for Southampton. At the time of writing QPR sit 20th in the league with 7pts and Reading just ahead of them on 9pts, whilst Wigan, Aston Villa and Southampton are all level on 15pts. All stats correct as at 12 December, using EPL Index / Opta data.

Efficiency 11 Dec Goals & Shots per 90 11 Dec

Goals & Shots per 90 Data 11 Dec 2Of the 5 strikers, Arouna Koné takes the fewest shots with only 2.49 per 90mins, on average this is far less than Cissé, Benteke and Le Fondre, who each manage to shoot over 3.5 times per 90mins. But shots alone do not necessarily indicate the quality of opportunities on hand – indeed the current league top scorer Michu currently has a shots per 90mins rate of 3.13. Cissé’s low shots on target rate at under 30%, of which only a paltry 20% have been goals, has not done much to help QPR’s cause.

Le Fondre and Lambert are easily outperforming the others from this perspective because the quality of their shots is shown to be generally much higher – and so although they take fewer shots per game their goalscoring rates are significantly better off (c0.45 goals per 90mins). Lambert has a particularly good record of making the opposition keeper work when he has a shot: he has hit the target 47.4% of the time.

Big Chance Data 11 Dec

Big Chance Economy 11 Dec Big Chances 11 Dec

When it comes to big chances, Koné in particular fares poorly.  Although both he and Cissé have a conversion rate of 25%, Koné has had several more gilt-edged chances than Cissé (12 vs 4 respectively). Roberto Martinez will no doubt be disappointed by the return from Koné, however on the plus side the sheer frequency of big chances he is involved in may be a positive sign for the team’s prospects. The small sample size for Cissé means that his conversion rate of 25% perhaps does him a disservice at this point in time – if he scores his next one it’ll jump up to 40%.

Benteke, who in recent weeks has kept Darren Bent out of the Aston Villa team, does not perform particularly well in this analysis. Judged purely by the stats in this post he resembles Cissé much more than Lambert, with below average shooting accuracy and below par big chance conversion.

Of the group, unsurprisingly it is Lambert again who does best with big chances with an excellent conversion rate of 75% (3 from 4). When Southampton have needed him most so far he has come up with the goods, but whether that form continues for the rest of the season is another matter.

Xmas Gift Ideas from the Premier League: Pt 1

A short post on some of the stranger merchandise available from the online shops of top football clubs. Most clubs seem to stock very similar products to each other, but with their own insignia. However there are still some absolute gems to be had. If before now you didn’t believe that football is a business then think again! I would be very interested to know how well these products actually sell…

NUFC: The undisputed champions of strange football-related merchandise.

  • Whey-Aye Man fancy dress costume – How many of these have they sold?! It’s both ingenious and terrifying
  • NUFC second skin – Why bother buying the replica shirt, shorts and socks when you can have this timeless black & white striped morph suit?
  • NUFC Santa Suit – a snip at £12.99. Perfect for die-hard fans who won’t even accept seeing santa in red & white!

WAFC: Wigan’s club shop is a disappointingly muted affair compared to most other club shops.


  • Hoody hippo – A bold move by Arsenal to sell other soft toys in direct competition to their beloved Gunnersaurus, who incidently looks like he might be infringeing the design copyright of Yoshi from Super Mario


  • Eagle Gnome – The design on this is incomprehensible. Perhaps it makes sense to Man City fans?


  • Third Kit Shirt – The only shirt that makes this list of weird merchandise. What’s with the tattoo sleeves?
  • Personalised Rosé Wine – They do personalised red, white wine and champagne as well if you’re interested. This next part is directly copied from the product description: Le Ruisselet offers drinkers an exciting glimpse of excellent French everyday vino


  • Prefect Badge – Relive your school prefect days with this wonderful badge! This is a must buy if you are going to a ‘AVFC 6th form school’-themed party


  • Garden Santa Stop Here Sign – Other clubs have this as well. Not sure how this product would fare on Dragon’s Den. Still, if you travel around SW London front gardens are full of these things (insert your own joke on what Chelsea fans are wishing for)


  • Weaning Bowl – Make absolutely sure your child is not tempted by the allure of the ‘noisy neighbours’ MCFC from an early age

That’ll do for now I think, but there are certainly more great football-related gifts out there. Tweet at me: @ChrisJLilley with your favourites and I’ll put them in another review.

Premier League Top Scorers

Using Opta/EPL Index data, I have looked at shooting metrics for the current top 5 goalscorers this season in the English Premier League.

With 4 players on 10 goals, and Jermain Defoe in 5th place with 9 goals, there would seem to be little to tell the players apart. I have presented some simple ratios below to dig a little deeper into how we might compare their shooting efficiency.

Graphs created below as at 05/12/12:

Shooting stats 5 Dec 2012
Big Chance stats 5 Dec 2012

  • Michu (full name Miguel Pérez Cuesta) stands out as being the only player on the list considered by many to be more of a midfielder than a striker. For me, he should be ranked #1 in this shortlist because of his excellent goals rate despite having on average only 2.79 shots per 90mins. He is currently scoring 56% of his shots on target which shows that he has made his opportunities count. This is backed up by an excellent 67% conversion rate of big chances to goals.
  • Suarez has a very high shooting rate per 90mins, averaging just under 6 shots per game, however he has played more minutes than the rest of the group and therefore has the lowest rate of goals per 90mins.
  • Demba Ba has the highest shots on target per 90mins, and he has the lowest playing time, both contributing to give him the best goals rate per 90mins stat: 0.78 per game. However, his goals per shots on target rate is equal lowest with Suarez.
  • RVP has had the highest rate of big chances per 90mins at 1.67 but he also has the lowest conversion rate at 33%. No doubt he will be looking to improve this as the season develops.
  • Defoe is rather trigger-happy (still not quite at Suarez’s level!) but his shots on target per shot ratio is more healthy at 38% of shots. He also has the second highest big chance economy rate with currently 56% of big chances converted that have fallen his way.