Author Archives: thepowerofeleven

England’s Turning Point? (an ode to Rooney’s goal in Brazil)

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I actually wrote the below post a week or 2 after England’s miserable exit from the World Cup but didn’t publish it because I sensed the derision you [the reader] would have towards my ‘silver lining’ attitude to England’s poor results in Brazil.

I am now releasing it because a) England are playing this week, b) England impressed in last month’s win over Switzerland, and c) I was reminded of it (just a little bit) by this goal scored by the Ipswich U14 team. England clearly weren’t good enough in Brazil, but my memory remains that they gave the impression of a decent team whilst in possession of the ball. Results notwithstanding, this represented an sizeable improvement on the style of play seen in the previous 10 years (or so).

Rooney’s inconsequential goal against Uruguay was one of the best I’ve seen from the Three Lions in a game of importance.

England fans have been treated to a few goals of individual brilliance over the past 20 years: Gazza at Euro 96, Owen at France 98, Joe Cole at Germany 06 and Beckham’s last minute free-kick against Greece to qualify for the 2002 World Cup. But Rooney’s first world cup goal was for once an excellent team goal that sets it apart from the rest – and perhaps that is why I enjoyed it so much.

The goal against Uruguay isn’t quite forgotten, in so much as it was only a couple of weeks ago, and English readers will likely remember Rooney sliding the ball into the net from Johnson’s cross.

But no match reports, highlight reels or analysis I can find seem to appreciate quite how the attack swept from one corner of the pitch to the other. 26 seconds from start to finish involving 7 different players.

The deluge of doom and gloom that Suárez’s freak winner brought on totally overshadowed what was overall a reasonable performance, and an excellent goal. The (UK) pre-game betting market had the odds pretty close between the teams which in itself suggests that Uruguay were favourites but on balance I still think England can count themselves ‘unlucky’ to have lost the match.

All the highlights of the goal appear to begin when Sturridge collects the ball. Admittedly, his improvisation under pressure from 2 players is the most elegant part of the move but we need to rewind 15 seconds to see where the play began.


You can watch it again in full here, select the analysis section and navigate to 6:52. And mute the miserable commentary from Dixon. It’s documented as Rooney’s first goal at a world cup, but little else. I wonder how the goal would have been received if Argentina, Brazil or Germany had scored it? I admit that other teams DO score goals like this, but England? Really?

Embellished text commentary:

  1. Suárez takes the ball on the turn from Cáceres’ throw-in, only for Jagielka to steal in near the England corner flag and advance with the ball, laying it on to Lallana who had doubled up on Suárez. Meanwhile, Suárez hopelessly slumps onto his back in hope of a free-kick from the referee’s assistant (time 0-3s)
  2. Lallana takes a touch and lays the ball short to Rooney deep on the left flank, who, under pressure from the retreating Cáceres, nudges the ball back towards his own goal and then stretches to thread a pass to Gerrard through the legs of the onrushing González. Rooney, having fallen upon passing to Gerrard, picks himself up and begins his run towards goal (time 3-6s)
  3. Gerrard collects the ball mid-way between the penalty area and the halfway line, switching the ball to Johnson on the right (time 6-10s)
  4. Johnson stops the ball and then pushes it further forward and wide to Henderson and then runs inside him. Henderson, receiving the ball just inside the Uruguayan half under pressure from Cavani, takes the ball further wide and then passes forward to Sturridge (time 10-16s)
  5. Sturridge, with his back to goal, drags the ball inside taking it out of Cavani’s reach, then turns outside from the challenge of Pereira, leaving Pereira on the ground. With Johnson now ahead of him on the right, Sturridge plays a nicely weighted pass encouraging Johnson to change direction and move towards the goal (time 16-21s)
  6. Sturridge’s pass also tempts Godín wide and too close to the advancing Johnson and he is also left on the ground as Johnson controls and pushes the ball in one movement directly into the penalty area (time 21-24s)
  7. Now at the final line of defence, Johnson is weakly challenged by Lodeiro as he crosses the ball along the ground into the 6-yard box (time 24-25s)
  8. Rooney ghosts in behind Cáceres to pass the ball into the net (time 25-26s)
  9. Henderson and Johnson celebrate with a front-on-knee-slide-hug in the penalty area that isn’t weird at all

Sturridge took 6 touches, everyone else only had a maximum of 2 touches on the ball, controlling the ball and moving it on.

This insignificant goal remains at the very least a small endorsement of the potential that Hodgson’s England team had at the tournament, and above all how England’s style of play (at least in possession of the ball) has improved since 2012.


World Cup 2014 Data

It’s been a while since the last post I made on this blog, but it’s World Cup season so I had to contribute something.

I’ve collected some player/team data from the FIFA website which anyone can download and find interesting stuff. I’ve only put basic data in there, nothing too technical, but there is a collection of passing and tracking stats and a handful of other categories for every game so far: World_Cup_2014_group_stage < Click to download data in .xlsx format

If you use this data and see any problems with it let me know. For the USA-Ghana match, a handful of the stats didn’t seem to be published in the usual format so that one is incomplete. I also noticed that the high-intensity distance covered stats for the same game looked strange (probably incorrect) – use with caution.

Here is a small selection of charts based on the published dataset…




(*NB I removed values for USA-Ghana in the above chart)




Srna and Di Maria pop up a couple of times with top speeds clocked over 31km/h. Aurier was observed at the fastest speed of 33.52km/h in the Ivory Coast-Colombia game.


For total distance covered Bradley makes 3 appearances in the top 20 for his efforts in all 3 games.

Blog update

Regular visitors to the site may have noticed a slowdown in my recent output. The main reason for this is that I now contribute to the content published on Kickdex.

If you like my blog you’ll love their site, so check it out if you haven’t already. It doesn’t mean the end for thepowerof11, but my posts will be a little less frequent for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for reading

EPL Player Ratings, Games 1-6

6 games into the season, the most influential players for each team are elbowing their way up the charts to prominence.

As in the previous post covering games 1-3, I have reproduced the same report format to provide information on every team. In subsequent posts my intention is to produce these reports for discrete periods, e.g. games 1-6, then games 7-12,…etc to see if trends in these reports can give insight into changes in player form/influence or team tactics.

First up, I calculated a summary report of all players who have played over 270mins (~3 games) so far i.e. no Ozil who is on 248mins.

All 1-6Sigurdsson, Ramsey and Yaya have all received praise for their performances at the start of the season and these measures support that (scoring goals certainly helps). Pienaar, Fellaini and Ward have all performed notably as well. Vidic has the highest defending/ball-winning score whilst hamstrung Pienaar leads the way in passing/retaining the ball.


AFC 1-6Unsurprisingly, Ramsey and Ozil lead the charts for Arsenal – although Gnabry takes 3rd place in terms of average rating. Few would doubt Flamini’s contributions so far this year off the ball, but he is a fair distance down the table by these measures due to their bias towards ball-related actions.

Aston Villa:

AVFC 1-6Injured Benteke and Okore top the charts for Villa, but they have still managed to win their previous 2 games without their influence.

Cardiff City:

CCFC 1-6The wonderfully named Théophile-Catherine has had a bright start to life at Cardiff.


CFC 1-6Terry, Hazard and Ivanovic stand out here, although despite playing relatively few minutes Mata has the highest involvement rating. This may be indicative of how important he is to Chelsea as a link between defence and attack.

Crystal Palace:

CPFC 1-6Ignoring 12 minute O’Keefe, defenders Ward and Jedinak have been Crystal Palace’s key players so far. J Williams deserves a mention for the highest non-O’Keefe attacker rating.


EVE 1-6Full-backs Baines and Coleman very prominent for Everton.


FFC 1-6Fulham’s team stats have been much derided in the early stages of the season and player-wise there isn’t a lot to shout about either. They must be hoping for better from Hangeland, Berbatov and Ruiz as the season progresses.

Hull City:

HCFC 1-6An improvement from Curtis Davies in the last 3 games takes him to the top of Hull’s table.


LFC 1-61 great performance from Suarez and he’s top. Sakho has impressed early on with his defending stats.

Manchester City:

MCFC 1-6Silva and Nasri are vying for most involved player, whilst Navas has had a very lukewarm start to life in Manchester.

Manchester United:

MUFC 1-6Some very strong scores at the top end of the chart for Man Utd – Evans, Smalling and Nani all making good cases for more game time. Carrick seems to be slightly less involved than observed last season as Fellaini has quickly become the main throughfare in midfield.

Newcastle United:

NUFC 1-6Mixed scores with Santon continuing to impress, Remy coming to the fore and Tiote heavily involved.

Norwich City:

NCFC 1-6Nowhere near as much influence this season from Snodgrass as Redmond and Fer have become important attacking midfielders for Norwich – interestingly the opposite end of the table suggests van Wolfswinkel isn’t offering the team a great deal so far!


South 1-6Only 2 goals conceded by Southampton so far, owing much to Lovren and Fonte’s impressive pairing at the back.

Stoke City:

SCFC 1-6Keep-it-simple N’Zonzi and creator Charlie Adam catch the eye due to involvement and attacking attributes respectively.


SAFC 1-6Cuellar achieved a score of 10 for defending and ball-winning in his only appearance of the season against Liverpool, but it obviously wasn’t enough to prevent Sunderland losing 1-3.

Swansea City:

Swans 1-6Ben Davies’ marauding runs from left back and 2 goals lead him to the top of the Swansea player table.

Tottenham Hotspur:

THFC 1-6Sigurdsson, Townsend and Walker lead the way. Eriksen scores highly in passing and involvement but according to the stats he hasn’t quite done enough to lift him above many of his teammates at this early stage.

West Brom:

WBA 1-6Amalfitano and Sessegnon have begun the season quite well as defenders Ridgewell, McAuley and Olsson have earned 1 man-of-the-match award apiece.

West Ham United:

WHFC 1-6Difficult start to the season for West Ham, as they look very short in attack. J Cole and Morrison look to be their best outlets in forward positions until they can patch up Carroll.

EPL Player Ratings, 3 games in

I maintain a database of EPL players, using it to calculate ratings and performance stats for every player in the league.

3 games in, the starting line-ups are barely settled and the small sample of matches leaves a lot to chance. Nevertheless I’m publishing some data to try out a new reporting format and develop a ‘quick to print’ process. Some of the key players that will influence the league may have already begun to show their quality in the ratings.

Earlier this year I categorised 6 ‘themes’ by which to rate players – some of which have little correlation to team results but nevertheless give some degree of insight into what type of player an individual is relative to his peers.

The categories are:

  • Defending / Ball-winning
  • Passing / Ball-retention
  • Attacking
  • Involvement
  • Discipline
  • Goalkeeping

They’re pretty self-explanatory really but I will note that success rates of performing certain actions are accounted for in the ratings. And I’ve decided to rank them 1-10 to make them as intuitive as possible (and equivalent to ratings on Football Manager / whoscored / etc).

Here’s some data for the whole of the Premier League so far:


Arsenal G 1-3Walcott & Giroud most influential early on, with Ramsey enjoying high involvement and passing stats as he has assumed some of the missing Arteta’s responsibilities.

Aston Villa:

AVFC G 1-3No surprise to see Benteke leading the stats. Delph continues to be highly influential as well.

Cardiff City:

Cardiff G 1-3


Some low-ish scores for Cardiff players, partly reflecting the mixed bag of results they have had so far.


CFC G 1-3Chelsea’s stats show Hazard and Oscar vying for top player.

Crystal Palace:

CPFC G 1-3O’Keefe sits at the top having enjoyed a goal in his only brief appearance against Sunderland. Defensive-minded players Jedinak, Ward and Delaney have excellent early defence ratings.


EFC G 1-3Not many minutes being shared to those outside the first 11 as yet, although with Fellaini out the door and some new arrivals in the team it will be interesting to see who becomes the most dominant player – my early money is on Pienaar.


FFC G 1-320 players already have game time for Fulham which indicates how much competition for places there is. Little to shout about stats-wise.

Hull City:

HCFC G 1-32 subs lead the way, followed by Elmohamady, who has been adept at retaining possession so far.


LFC G 1-3Sturridge, who else? On the other side of the coin, Aspas has underwhelmed the model so far.

Man City:

MCFC G 1-3Silva & Clichy are involved a lot for City and it’s understandable, particularly as they retain the ball so well. It could also be an indication that Clichy has been identified by the opposition as a weak link so he has more defensive work to do than average.

Man Utd:

MUFC G 1-3Vidic, Evra & Ferdinand at the top here which says much about the opposition United have played so far. 2 games of little service have left RVP’s stats lagging behind the rest.

Newcastle United:

NUFC G 1-3Santon has picked up this season from where he left off last year, leading the way in terms of performance on the field.

Norwich City:

NCFC G 1-3So far so good for new signings Redmond and Fer, who have made a bright start to life at Norwich. It will be interesting to see how Snodgrass develops this year considering his high influence last season.


Southampton G 1-3Fonte and Lovren stand out so far from Southampton’s close games.

Stoke City:

Stoke G 1-3Early days for Stoke under Hughes, but fans will be happy with 6pts in their first 3 games. Marc Wilson’s good all-round contributions make him stand ahead of the crowd.


Sunderland G 1-3Interesting here as Roberge tops the chart, despite only playing in the first game of the season (and being criticised for making the mistake that allowed Fulham to score).

Swansea City:

Swans G 1-3Great stats from Chico again so far this year – those who caught my reviews of last season will already know how highly the model rated him.

Tottenham Hotspur:

THFC G 1-3Despite the many millions spent on new signings, Townsend has been most influential for Spurs so far. But with Lamela and Eriksen yet to play a full game watch this space.

West Brom:

WBA G 1-3Not a lot to shout about yet for goalless WBA.

West Ham United:

WHUFC G 1-3Joe Cole and James Collins lead the way but just 50mins of playing time from Ravel Morrison was enough to push him into 3rd place.

EPL Transfer Heatstroke

I’m adding to the long list of articles reviewing the transfer dealings that have taken place this summer. I don’t have a lot to elaborate on some excellent pieces I read this week, so I’ll provide some links to them first and some charts after.

This one, from @mixedknuts on Stats Bomb is an entertaining and well-reasoned leveller discussing Everton’s reportedly expensive loan signings – reminding us that spending big sums isn’t really a good strategy for teams that are subject to heavy budget constraints.

This, from @altmandaniel throws a cold glass of water in the dreaming fan’s face to say that spending on attack isn’t everything – despite almost every team (except Cardiff?) having generally focused on goalscoring additions to their squads in the transfer window.

And this, from @TheM_L_G on Grantland looks at Spurs’ squad evolution over recent years in light of their recent headline-grabbing dealings.

There are no doubt several other pieces I haven’t read of a similar ilk but these are nice articles because I think they combine fairly well to give us a straightforward education in transfer spending and strategy – particularly useful to refer to when we are observe last-ditch transfer deadline madness where longer-term strategy appears to fly out of the window in favour of impulse.

Anyway, on to the information I put together.

I’ve consolidated some data on transfer spending in the EPL over time and taken a fresh look at spending vs points/goal difference. More than anything I suppose I wanted to put some things into context.

I took everything below from if you’re wondering/shocked by the numbers:

EPL Rev vs ExpenditureCurrent season net spend is indeed bigger than any previous season (shown by the bubble sizes above), and we haven’t had the January transfer window yet – this shows how much the EPL has been looking abroad for talent this year and indicates the reluctance of EPL teams to sell to rivals (Suarez, Rooney and Baines are a case in point).

Net Spend Per Season Big 5I suppose this graph shows again how much the EPL does like to subsidise its rival leagues! However, Spain actually eclipsed the EPL net spend once in the last 5yrs (09/10) all thanks to Ronaldo.

As an aside, I don’t buy the English talent drain argument when it come to the national team but this does indicate how much the EPL loves an import.

Net Spend vs Change in Pts EPLNet Spend vs Change in GD EPLFor the 2 charts above, I took the net spend of every club and compared their change in points total, and change in goal difference, against the previous season. 187 results since 2002/03 (excluding newly promoted teams). Others before me have done this and I have done it again – concluding that there’s basically no relationship here between net spend and a team’s resulting points growth.

There are winners and losers yes, and certain examples buck the trend, but in general spending more money won’t buy you happiness (at least immediately anyway)!

Success StoriesWe do have some success stories here, although how much of the change in points totals can be attributed only to transfer dealings is quite contestable. Above I listed teams whose net spend made them £20m+ better off and yet still increased their points total on the year before. Take a bow West Ham? Oh, wait, the following year their points total was down to 35 so perhaps not! Arsenal feature twice thanks to Wengerball.

Disaster StoriesAnd now here are the teams whose net outlay was £20m+ but they still managed to end up more than 10pts worse off than the season before.

The West Ham example above suggests we could put an extra season lag on the changes and see what happens to the relationship – in many of the examples I just published, the teams may well have traded heavily in January thus making the opportunity for dealings to affect performance slightly lower in that season. But adding a season lag doesn’t make a difference, I checked. Take my word for it.

So what I am saying here? I’m reiterating many before me but spending big doesn’t get you big improvement fast. Regime changes, as happened at Chelsea and Manchester City are sort of an exception, but they have enjoyed consistent high spending over numerous years to bring success. I wouldn’t even say that they’re better at picking star players, rather they have a better chance of buying star players simply because they are buying more of them. It’s high time the average EPL club wised up and changed their transfer approach because they’re really not that good at spending money.

TPOEM EPL 3pm Predictions 17 Aug 2013

This is dodgy territory as it’s the beginning of a new season: new teams, new managers, new players. And as ever the TPOEM model I used last season seems to dislike backing even the firm favourite too much (Liverpool today are a case in point).

I’ve used some proxy players in today’s predictions to try and gloss over the fact I don’t have stats for some players who didn’t play in the EPL last season.

Anyway, here are my forecasts and bets. I also bet on over 2.5 goals in the Sunderland-Fulham match, but considering my model is bottom-up (i.e. it places emphasis on the players in the starting line-up) I had a bit of difficulty knowing what to do with Sunderland’s 5 new players!! Small stakes and no betting on newly promoted teams today, and as per last season I’m looking for value and a % return rather than hundreds or thousands of pounds profit – this isn’t supposed to be anything more than just a hobby.

What I’m saying is, don’t blame me if this is rubbish, but give me credit if it works out. Fair, right?

TPOEM 17 Aug

Analysts Anonymous – Fantasy Football League

Brief shout out to any friends, readers, bloggers, analysts, players, gamblers or nutcases who play the official fantasy premier league game (which is free).

I set up a league, Analysts Anonymous. Join it and hopefully we’ll have some healthy competition. Code to join this league: 451482-439715. Website is of course

Like football itself, the results have a healthy mix of skill and luck and I for one don’t take it too seriously. This isn’t a challenge to beat me (I’m usually a mid table man really!) but I do transfer weekly and I’d be lying if I said I don’t TRY (about 10-20mins a week on average) and after all I do get frustrated if I forget to tinker with my team before the weekly deadlines. Join up!

EPL Predictions 2013/14

Prediction is a mug’s game. But most fans enjoy doing it and after all it is the right time to publish a season-long prediction. On the off-chance I have called a handful of places right, at the end of the season I reserve the right to fool gullible people that I am a predictive genius. With hundreds of analysts and crackpots alike doing this, there’s a good chance that SOMEONE will get it right. And I could be that someone…

Disclaimer, this ain’t wrestling and I’m no Dolphins1925.

EPL Prediction 2013-14To come up with the above, I used the information published in a previous piece and set about adjusting it with my own opinions on which teams have bought and sold well this year, alongside the managerial changes and potential for mean regression.  It would surprise me if Man Utd don’t sneak in a marquee signing of some sort – particularly if Rooney leaves – but in any case I haven’t incorporated that prospect into these predictions.

The working data I started with is here:

Predictions background

And now some reckless not thought through opinions:

You can see that I like Chelsea’s prospects this year. Put a quacking duck in charge of that team and they’ll finish in the top 3 again, let alone THAT inspirational irritable Portuguese man brought to you in association with Samsung.

I’m a bit pessimistic about post-Pulis Stoke. I’m always pessimistic about Stoke but I fear they’ll lose their Stoke-ness this year and drop to the Championship.

I think Everton will weaken without Moyes, and yet Man Utd will also weaken slightly in their adjustment to life without SAF.

Man City will improve a bit, but not quite enough to overhaul Utd and Chelsea. For the record I would have assumed that City under Mancini would have improved on last season’s result in any case.

Arsenal will probably be exactly like Arsenal again this year and take 4th from Liverpool and Spurs. If they manage to prise Suarez off Liverpool I’d knock 4 points off Liverpool and add 7 to Arsenal’s total. Maths!

Liverpool will continue their improvement since January last year, beating Spurs to 5th whilst Spurs won’t be quite as fortunate with late winners from Bale this season but otherwise have a stronger-looking team to make up for it.

Fulham will push Everton for 7th, closely followed by Newcastle, Swansea and Southampton in no particular order.

Norwich, West Ham and West Brom will be safe but stuttering. Cardiff have strengthened just about enough to entertain the thought of survival and perhaps finish ahead of Stoke or Sunderland or Aston Villa. But Hull and Palace are going down!

Random League Generator

Here I have attached a downloadable Excel file to share a simple league table generator I put together recently. Click the link below to open it:

Random League Generator

I performed a quick test of downloading the file from this site and my PC tried to open it as an old-school .xls file so you might want to save the file down and open it separately if you’re having trouble. I haven’t tidied, protected or hidden much information in it so consider it yours to use and browse as you wish.

This mini-exercise is intended to provide an illustration of the randomness of results in football in general. Having just finished reading Chris Anderson and David Sally’s The Numbers Game, in which randomness and luck is discussed at great length, I thought I’d take a look at the possible results and league tables we might expect if the league was truly random.

In the first tab ‘Random League Table’ I have created results and tables for 10 seasons for 20 hypothetical teams A-T, all of whom have about a 47% chance of winning a home game, 26% chance of a draw and 27% chance of an away win.

In the second tab I have used real team names and input a strength rating [1-10] to calculate what the league table might look like if the team abilities are distributed in a certain way, and it also serves as a helpful (albeit basic) model to show that sometimes, if we accept the notion of randomness, an unexpected team CAN win the league from time to time or be relegated simply due to the sampling size of a 380 game season. If you want you can change the strength ratings (although you’ll have to pick numbers for each team between 0-10) and then click the orange button to refresh the results (make sure you enable macros in Excel).