Tag Archives: QPR

Premier League Review 2012/13: QPR

*Sigh* QPR, what happened? No, really, what happened?

Cumulative pts - QPRFrom the 5-0 loss at home to Swansea on the first day of the season, QPR never really recovered, having to wait until game 17 to register their first win (Redknapp took over on/around game 13). A 2-win ‘streak’ at the beginning of March gave a glimmer of hope that was promptly snuffed out by losses to Villa and Fulham. And despite the money spent in January, QPR’s form in the last 14 games of the season averaged 0.64pts per game – over a 38 game season that form would have yielded a total even lower than they achieved.

Goals For - QPRGoals Against - QPRThere was little room for error considering the rates that QPR were scoring and conceding all season: games would have to be won with clinicism and dogged defending yet QPR were characterised by profligacy and errors at the back. According to EPL Index (Opta) stats, QPR conceded 14 goals as a direct result of errors, second only to Wigan. Removing the goals lost to errors from their results would have given QPR 11 more points. Sure, every team will suffer from errors at some point, but imagine the possible effect on West Ham’s season if they had made double figures in errors leading to goals: they were actually =2nd with only 4 goals from errors.

Home & Away - QPREverything stands out as being poor on the above graph. Ditto for the next.

Relative strength - QPRVital Stats - QPR[Vital stats picture above can be clicked to view]

QPR had 18 ‘tall’ players last year, more than any other squad, and generally more than average in the line-up. Having said that, the overall average playing height of the team was below average – this suggests that the shorter players on the team were sufficiently short to bring down the overall mean, probably something to do with SWP.

% Playing time - QPRMPS vs League TPOEM - QPRThese graphs are a glimpse of what could have been. QPR fielded no players for more than 2800mins, and only Clint Hill had as many as 2400-2800mins. Hughes/Redknapp just couldn’t work out their best starting line-up – so much turnover, of which some was down to injuries, some self-inflicted. Argh! What makes it worse is that in every section, QPR player’s scores were better than the league average. However that may not count for too much because their best players are being compared with most of the league’s squad players.

In any case, like Norwich in the review before whose players ‘underperformed’ according to TPOEM, QPR’s players ‘outperformed’. So I’ll repeat myself – there are many things TPOEM doesn’t capture: like leadership (player or coach), tactics, luck (which cannot be ruled out in a 38 game season) and the effect of game states on team/player stats. It looks to have been a perfect storm of events that combined to relegate a QPR squad that has more quality than it showed.

General stats:

  • Second highest number of tackles (817)
  • Highest ground duel % won: 53%
  • 4th most dribbles attempted (657)
  • Worst goals per shots on target ratio of 20%
  • Fewest final third passes attempted with 3928 – why pass when you can shoot or dribble instead?!

Players - QPRIt’s pretty hard to pick out best performers, knowing full well that very few players deserve credit in whatever it was that happened last season. But when Taarabt was good, he was very good. And Remy and Townsend performed pretty well offensively following their January moves.

Defensively Nelson seemed to have the best stats so he was a big loss to the team as Samba couldn’t quite settle fast enough to fill his shoes. And Hoilett gave nothing like the sort of heroics he offered Blackburn last season.

A bit of a mess in terms of player contributions across the squad, not helped by the fact that few players had enough playing time to give any serious influence. In TPOEM’s opinion Taarabt was still the most valuable player QPR had.


Dribbling wizardry: 2012-13 so far

Dribbling is a much-admired skill in football. The best dribblers in the game are fixed into the history of the sport: players like Stanley Matthews, George Best and Diego Maradona are remembered for their almost superhuman ability to leave defenders trailing in their wake. Beating defenders 1-on-1 excites a crowd in a way only shots and goals can match, but in the same way that a poor effort on goal from a good position can frustrate supporters, losing the ball when dribbling in a good position can be just as frustrating!

In this post I look at some of the best and worst dribblers this season in the Premier League: heroes and villains.

Teams Dribbling frequency

So far this season there has been little correlation between the number of times a team dribbles and whether or not a team gets results. As we can see from the above chart, the top four in terms of total dribbles attempted include Liverpool, Newcastle and QPR whilst league leaders Man Utd are mid-table in terms of dribble frequency.

Liverpool fans are treated to a lot of dribbling at Anfield, but as we can see from their success rates the fans are frustrated more often than not: on average they lose the ball through dribbling about 12 times per game.  Although Arsenal attempt about 1 less dribble per game than Liverpool their average success rate is better: Arsenal have the best mean dribble success per game of c.11 successful dribbles vs 10 unsuccessful. Brendan Rodgers and Arsene Wenger clearly to not mind letting their players dribble more freely than Sam Allardyce. West Ham’s dribble success rate is actually slightly better than Liverpool but they attempt less the half as many dribbles per game.

Dribbling success rateTeam dribbles per game

Some of this is perhaps not neccessarily due to team tactics but the amount of time spent in the opposition’s half. Of course, when in the defending half, players generally know better than to take risks with the ball at their feet – so we would expect dribbling to occur mostly in attacking positions by attacking players. We must bear in mind that the dribble statistic used here gives a simple success/fail result per dribble without any additional information on the difficulty of the dribble, the position on the pitch the dribble was attempted or the actions directly after the attempted dribble.

Aston Villa have the best overall success rate in dribbling (62%) but they have only attempted one more dribble than West Ham – this suggests that Villa players are very selective in choosing when to dribble or at least leave the dribbling to their most skilled players.

On the other end of the scale, Stoke and Swansea have particularly bad success rates when it comes to dribbling: 36% and 37% respectively, meaning that only about 1 in 3 dribbles are successful.


For the tables/data below I filtered out any players who had played fewer than 500mins and attempted fewer than 15 dribbles.

Most frequent dribblers

From the most frequent dribblers table above we start to see the driving forces behind the team stats published earlier. Ben Arfa is arguably the dribbling king of the premier league as he attempts almost 9 dribbles per 90mins and yet still manages a positive success rate of 58% (although as a Newcastle fan perhaps I am biased!). Opposition players know Ben Arfa is likely to dribble when he is on the ball and yet they still don’t usually get the better of him. Suarez and Sterling are clearly the main contributors to Liverpool’s high frequency as they account for more than half of all Liverpool’s attempted dribbles but they both have a below average success rate. This is certainly offset by their high rates of chances created from open play. The surprise success story of the table is Samba Diakité who has a strong 66% success rate despite having a high propensity to dribble.

Most successful dribblersThe most successful dribbler is another Newcastle player: Cheik Tioté, who has a ridiculous 84% success rate. In fact this table is an interesting mix of defensive and attacking players. Diakité again stands out, but also Dembélé and Cazorla who have both attempted more than 60 dribbles and still have an superb rate of success.

Dribblers - don't bother

Last but not least, the above table shows the very worst dribblers this year. Stand up David Luiz. To be fair, 8 of the players in this list of 20 have attempted fewer than 20 dribbles – but David Luiz would certainly be better suited to playing it simple as he has only been successful with 2 of his 15 attempts.

Kightly, Dyer and Kacaniklic are arguably even more frustrating for their managers and fans since they seem to be a little over-confident in their dribbling ability! They each succeed in around 1 in 4/1 in 5 of their attempts to beat a defender. PASS THE BALL!!

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.

Premier League 2011-12: Game changers pt2

This post reviews sendings off in the 2011-12 season: which teams lost or profited most?

To breakdown the MCFC/Opta data this time I filtered out any sendings off which occurred with less than 10 minutes of the game to go. Why? We can learn more from games where the team with a numerical advantage has longer on the field, and therefore a better opportunity to capitalise on their opponent’s weakness. I am most interested to see if any particular managers/teams seem to be better or worse at coping when a game becomes 11 vs 10 or even 11 vs 9 as happened in the QPR v Chelsea game last season at Loftus Road.

Last season a player was sent off with more than 10mins remaining a total of 51 times. QPR were the worst culprits, with their players sent off a total of 7 times before the 81st minute.  Interestingly, all of these red cards occurred in 2012, Mark Hughes being in charge for 6 out of the 7 games. If Mark Hughes specifically promoted the tactic of being more aggressive in the tackle, it was certainly a costly tactic as QPR lost all but 1 game in which they had a player sent off* (*with more than 10mins to go). In fact, in the only game they won from this situation they were already in front against Spurs and the red card for Adel Taarabt occurred in the 78th minute – only just meeting the constraints of my rule. Delving further into the stats on points gained/lost/unchanged, based on the score at the time of the sending off to the final score, QPR lost 2 games in which they were in a winning position until a player was sent off (at home to Norwich and Wolves) and 2 further games lost from a position of drawing a game (Man Utd and Man City – the famous conclusion to the season). Hence we can say that QPR had a -8pts swing, no doubt impacted by the red cards in those games. As it was, QPR only just survived relegation, yet with 8 more points to their total they would have been equal with Sunderland and Stoke in 13th/14th place.

Compare QPR’s stats to Spurs, who were much more disciplined last season with only 1 red card before the 81st minute: Danny Rose vs Aston Villa. On this occasion Spurs were actually able to turn their losing position to a draw, thereby gaining a point. The only other team to seemingly benefit from having a player sent off was Blackburn (vs Fulham, home). Here, Steve Kean’s team actually won having been level with Fulham when Yakubu was sent off.

55% of the time the red card did not change the result, in 41% of the matches the team with the player sent off lost points and 4% of the time the team actually gained (the 2 aforementioned).

Perhaps Bolton can count themselves unlucky – they had players sent off* in 5 games but no team had a player sent off* against them. On the other hand, Fulham’s players did not get sent off once with more than 10mins to play, but they benefited on 4 occasions, taking 9pts but arguably dropping 1pt against Steve Kean’s Blackburn.

At the top of the table, Arsenal were involved in 4 games in which they had a player sent off and 4 games in which the opposition had a man sent off*. In the games they had a player sent off they took only 1pt, but with the opposition down to 10 men they managed 3 wins and a draw. Manchester United’s opposition had players sent off 6 times; in these games although the result was often in their favour already, Man Utd took 16pts (5 wins, 1 draw). Man City and Chelsea both took maximum points in games where opposition players were sent off (6 and 9pts respectively), and City had an excellent record in games they had players sent off: 6pts from 3 games.

Any attempt to make a serious claim on which team or manager is best or worst at dealing with situations of 10 vs 11 players is flawed due to the small sample size.  But why not throw some names into the hat anyway?! Adding together the points swing after a player was sent off for either side shows that Chelsea come out on top (+6pts) and QPR bottom (-8pts). These teams both had manager changes during the season but for Chelsea Andre Vilas-Boas was the dominant force in their positive statistic, whilst Mark Hughes was in charge for most of the games that contributed to QPR’s poor points swing result. A special mention is reserved for Martin Jol’s disciplined Fulham side, as discussed earlier, who acheived a points swing of +4 from 4 games.

Team # players sent off* (a) Points (a) Points swing (a) # opposition players sent off* (b) Points (b) Points swing (b) Points swing (a) + (b)
Chelsea 3** 3 0 3 9 6 6
Fulham 0 0 0 4 9 4 4
Liverpool 4 3 -1 3 6 4 3
West Bromwich Albion 1 0 0 1 3 3 3
Manchester United 1 0 0 6 16 2 2
Newcastle United 2 1 0 3 5 2 2
Swansea City 2 3 0 2 3 2 2
Everton 1 0 -1 1 3 2 1
Manchester City 3 6 -1 2 6 2 1
Sunderland 1 1 -1 2 6 2 1
Tottenham Hotspur 1 1 1 5 12 0 1
Wolverhampton Wanderers 4 1 -2 2 3 3 1
Blackburn Rovers 4 4 0 2 3 0 0
Norwich City 2 1 -3 3 9 3 0
Stoke City 2 0 -2 2 2 2 0
Wigan Athletic 3 1 -2 2 1 1 -1
Arsenal 4 1 -4 4 10 2 -2
Bolton Wanderers 5 0 -2 0 0 0 -2
Aston Villa 1 0 -3 2 4 0 -3
Queens Park Rangers 7 3 -8 2** 3 0 -8
*with more than 10mins of normal time remaining
**Chelsea had 2 players sent off against QPR at Loftus Rd

*Sent off refers to my definition of sendings off with more than 10mins of normal time remaining.