Tag Archives: Man Utd

Different views of the League Table

In this post I have published a few simple Premier League team stats with consideration to the insight they provide compared to the current league table.  This can be an interesting exercise to review certain measures and analyse their efficacy in explaining team performance. These types of stats should be taken with a decent pinch of salt, because at this stage in the season (and even after 38 games) the statistics are dynamic and the sample size is small – team averages are constantly evolving and prone to ‘anomalous’ results, such as the 8-0 win by Chelsea against Aston Villa which has had a significant effect on goal difference. For the purposes of this post, I have made no attempt to smooth or adjust uncommon results.

Total Shots

Let’s start off simply by looking at total shots. This includes shots on target, off target, speculative long range efforts, blocked shots and even scuffed shots that go out for a throw in.

Total Shots TableI have included how many home and away games each team has played because it can matter to the mean values for this sample size. For example Arsenal have played the least home games with 9; at home they average 17.3 shots per game whilst away from home they manage 13.4, a difference of about 4 shots.

As we can see from the table, Liverpool are currently the undisputed shot taking champions with 1.4 shots per game more than second placed Tottenham. Stoke on the other hand lie bottom and take on average only 9.8 shots per game.

The biggest outliers when compared to the league table are Stoke and QPR, whose positions are reversed. We can see quite clearly from this strange result that total shots is not a good indicator of, say, the quality of shots taken as Stoke have actually scored 4 more goals than QPR so far this season, despite having taken only 206 shots compared to QPR’s 278.

Total Shots on Target

The table of shots on target improves the correlation with the actual league table slightly:

Total Shots On Target TableLiverpool, #1 in the total shots table, slip to 5th and the top 7 would seem quite reasonable to the casual observer (perhaps in a different order). However, Newcastle outperform their league position again by 7 places and we have a similar ‘anomaly’ between QPR and Stoke as before. Perhaps Newcastle and QPR have been unlucky and Stoke/WBA lucky? Well, of course we can’t seriously infer that as we are not incorporating any form of defensive strength into this table – Stoke, for example, have conceded fewer goals at home than any other team. This leads to the next table:

Total Shots On Target For – Against

This is a shots on target difference table, to show the difference between average shots on target for minus shots on target conceded for each team:

Total Shots On Target Difference TableNote that the range and standard deviation of our difference to the actual league table has dropped moderately, suggesting that this table provides the closest indication of league table performance so far. Interestingly, on average, teams below 7th place all concede more shots on target than they have made. Again there are outliers: Newcastle stubbornly insist on taking 8th place throughout these tables, despite their league table position of 15th. The missing ingredient to make the leap to the actual league table is of course the goals scored and conceded themselves. So this table suggests that the teams who are better off in the actual league table have:

  1. Created more high quality shots
  2. Been more clinical at converting their shots
  3. Stifled the opposition attack into having worse shots
  4. Relied on good goalkeeping to save shots on target

For example, Manchester City and Manchester United have both had 68 big chances this season. United have scored 30, whilst City have scored 25. This shows United’s slight edge over City so far this season in terms of clinicism. When it comes to big chances conceded, the opposition have converted 10 big chances against United compared to 9 against City. So the overall goal difference just from big chances is +4 in United’s favour, a small number which nonetheless remains significant after 21 games.

Goal Difference Table

The last table in the post considers goal difference:

GD Table

From the goal difference table we see the impact of the 8-0 loss to Aston Villa’s position. Otherwise the table broadly tells the story of the league table itself which in itself is quite unsurprising, give or take the odd shuffle here and there.

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Premier League 2011-12: Position Analysis ST

Last, but by no means least, is my position review for strikers in last season’s premier league. Robin van Persie, rightfully acclaimed for his performances last season (in which he appeared in all 38 of Arsenal’s games, starting 37 of them – and even scored 2 from his solitary subsitute appearance against Stoke) bagged 30 goals in total. But he still didn’t quite manage to top this rating.

Before I discuss the results, I ought to discuss some formalities about the rating I have used.  As with most of my previous posts, I reviewed the statistics from players who started in the position of striker: that is, the central player in a 3-man forward line, both players in a ‘flat’ forward 2 or the lone player up front. By looking at player starting statistics only, I am perhaps unfairly judging players who made a habit of having an impact from the bench – in addition, as you will also see later, my goals scored below for RVP is ‘only’ 28 because of this filter.

I then shortlisted the strikers who played greater than 1000mins from the start (34 in total), and added Agüero to make a 35th because according to Opta he mostly played behind the central striker last season and so would not have otherwise qualified. Notable absentees from the list include Defoe, Balotelli and Jelavic – all of whom played over 800mins in games they started but still not enough to make the cut.

I looked at Opta key statistics and reviewed the correlations between these fields and Wins, Draws, Losses – purely for strikers. For the strongest correlating fields I calculated ratios to try and remove some bias towards playing time and team biases eg. the players who played for better teams generally had more shots on target so to dilute this bias I created a shooting accuracy ratio to judge shots on target vs shots off target.

The table of statistics above is ordered by playing time from Papiss Cissé (1037mins) to RVP (3311mins). It is dominated by shooting and goalscoring statistics, with additional credit for chance creation, passing accuracy, dribble success and recoveries. I toyed with the idea of including offside frequency, because it IS quite significant in its relation to wins but I still couldn’t bring myself to add it into my rating. It does however show which players are so keen to break through the last line of defence they fall foul of being offside very often: the top 3 ‘offenders’ were Hernandez, Best and Bent. The players least likely to stray offside were Rooney, Doyle and Torres.

Papiss Demba Cissé was the standout candidate for killer instinct, leading the way in goals per shots on target (0.63), 2nd behind Bent in general shooting accuracy and 4th for shooting accuracy inside the box.

Steve Morison, Yakubu and Rooney scored well in headed goals and accuracy, whilst the best creators of chances were van Persie, Suarez and Zamora.

The best dribble success ratios were held by Klasnic, Carroll and van Persie – whilst Helguson kept it simple all season with 0 dribbles attempted! (I gave him the average success ratio so as not to unfairly disadvantage him).

Terrier-like high recovery rates were found with Welbeck, Rooney and Ngog.

I weighted all of these factors based broadly on contribution to WDL in order to calculate the following final ranking:

*Offsides, on the far right, have not been counted in the total score.

Rooney just about steals the top spot ahead of Agüero, a good 7pts ahead of RVP in a re-jigging of the top goal-scoring charts for the year. Rooney’s statistics are basically a lesson in how to be an excellent all-rounder, and he would be almost 20pts ahead of the competition if it weren’t for the inclusion of the rather dubious ‘touches inside the box’ statistic which disadvantages deeper-lying forwards.

Surprises in the top 10 include Zamora, Holt, Klasnic and Best. Best in particular was probably 3rd or 4th choice striker at Newcastle last season but was never given the faith that his statistics seem to justify.

Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres, part of an £85m transfer merry-go-round in January 2010, are 23rd and 24th respectively and underperformed their collegues Suarez and Drogba.

The only positive in Louis Saha’s stats (35th, last in the list) was his decent passing accuracy. Niklas Bendtner, now at Juventus, who would surely be higher in my rating if I included an ego statistic, only finished 29th.