Possession with Purpose – Prozone – and more…

No detailed statistics today – just a narrative to pass on a few tidbits as I prepare my End of Season analysis for Europe.

The news:

The European Season is ending.

  • There’s the winners, the losers, and those that stay afloat to live another year.
  • I’ll peel back the results on the English Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, and UEFA Champions League in the next few weeks.
  • For now, in La Liga the PWP Composite Index has a .94 correlation coefficient (r) to points earned in the league table; the Bundesliga sits at .92, the English Premier League sits at .94, while the UEFA Champions League sits at .87.
  • All incredibly strong and far stronger than MLS (.61) this year; last year MLS finished at .87.
  • Speaking of MLS, does a league, where winners display more characteristics of counterattacking, versus just possession-based attacking, detract from predictability?
  • In other words does the lower correlation support a League’s ability to achieve “parity” in professional soccer?
  • If so, is that style/type of football attractive enough to continue to grow footy in the States?
  • If not – does that mean the business model currently set up in the States won’t ever achieve a league “status” that matches the “prestige” most seem to attach to the top leagues in Europe?
  • More to follow…

I think these two video presentations by Hector Ruiz and Paul Power, from Prozone, are worth listening to.

  • In this video (tactical profiling) Hector, who attended my presentation at the World Conference on Science and Soccer last year, talks about his latest efforts that include breaking down the different types of possession in a much greater detail than I ever could with public data.
  • Of note is Hector substantiates my finding that a Head Coach’s tactical approach can be differentiated through tracking possession (passing characteristics) on the pitch.
  • He also helps begin to solve the riddle on measuring which players perform better or worse given those different styles of possession.
  • A soap-box, for me, when looking at my article on ‘Moneyball relative to soccer’, is the inability of modern day soccer statistics to show real value on how well teammates actually influence an individual’s success or failure on the pitch relative to how the team actually plays (what style it works to).
  • Here’s a direct lift from my article referenced above…

Modern day soccer statistics, for the most part, don’t measure the appropriate level of influence teammates, opposing players, and Head Coaching tactics – as such when I say I’m not a Moneyball guy when it comes to soccer it really means I don’t buy all that crap about tackles, clearances, goals scored, etc…

I value players relative to team outputs and I strongly feel and think the more media and supporters who understand this about soccer the less frustration they will (have) in blaming or praising one individual player over another player.

  • In the next video (game intelligence) Paul takes a similar approach in analyzing team behavior like PWP – separating out defensive characteristics from attacking characteristics while also modeling a ‘defensive press’ that measures success or failure in passing based upon whether or not a defender is hindering the attacker.
  • This topic has been one that I have also touched on last year – here’s a direct quote from my article on Hurried Passes.

So what is missing from the generic soccer statistical community to account for the void in Unsuccessful Passes?  Is it another statistic like Tackles Won, Duals Won, Blocked Shots, or Recoveries?

I don’t think so – none of them generated a marked increase in the overall correlation of those three activities already identified.  I think (it) is the physical and spatial pressure applied by the defenders as they work man to man and zone defending efforts.

  • Likewise, Paul also touches on ‘passing vision’ (in my words it’s not the innate vision many of us think of for players) – it’s more a discussion and analyses (I think) on the ‘windows of passing lanes’ available to players and whether or not they have tendencies to play riskier passes versus safer passes in relation to what the defenders are doing.
  • For me this simply means Paul has taken the same defensive pressure data and flipped it to view the success or failure of a player to find another player to pass to or create a shot given the defensive pressure (lanes/vision) that are blocked or open.
  • In simplistic teams (with new event statistics) you can capture and intuit that success or failure by filtering passes as being ‘open or hindered’ and also apply that same filter to create ‘open or hindered’ shots.  My article on this approach was also published some time ago – New Statistics in Soccer (Open Pass and Open Shot)
  • Finally, Paul also speaks to a game of soccer resembling the behavior of a school of fish; I’m not sure I’m convinced that is the best analogy – especially when he talks about under-loading and overloading, but his view does closely resemble mine where the game of soccer perhaps is best represented by a single-cell Amoeba.

All told – two well crafted presentations that begin to open up and really reinforce some of my soap-box issues with soccer statistics since starting my research three years ago.

To be redundant – soccer is not just about scoring goals – there is more to the game than goals scored; these two presentations continue to support my view that the world of soccer statistics needs to continuously get better…

My back-yard / stubby pencil approach to team performance analysis is soon to be published through Rand.

  • I want to express my sincere thanks to Terry Favero – my Co-Author – who helped me navigate the challenging waters of writing an Academic Paper.
  • Terry added considerable value, as well, in researching other works to help set the stage on the differences of PWP versus other efforts developed and published across the globe.
  • Finally, Terry provided superb editorial support – a challenge in that the writing styles one normally sees in a blog are completely unacceptable when writing an Academic Paper.
  • Great fun and the first of at least two to three more.

Last but not least, the Women’s World Cup is beginning.

  • Last year I applied the principles of PWP to the Men’s World Cup – with good order.
  • I’ll refresh everyone on how that took shape and then begin to chart how PWP takes shape for the Women’s World Cup.
  • I wonder what, if any, differences will show in comparing the women’s game to the men’s game?
  • Will the data show the same trends in quality and quantity?
  • Or will we see a reduction in quantity that may end up driving an increase in quality?
  • More to follow.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT – All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

UEFA Champions League – Who moves on Barcelona, Bayern, Madrid, or Juventus?

I’ve been a bit busy lately so apologies for not offering up any research on Possession with Purpose; lots going on with it at the moment while all five competitions I measure are still going at full speed.

To catch up, using a picture first, here’s a look at how PWP compares to Total Shots Ratio as well as Goal Differential when viewing the UEFA Champions League:

PWP v TSR v GDNote that I’ve highlighted – in green – where the top 4 teams (FC Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus) fit into each of the correponding Indices (if you will).

As an added Index I’ve also included the PWP Predictability Index (an Index that EXCLUDES goals scored (for or against) in the overall calculations.  A reminder that from a pure predictability standpoint the Predictability Index remains the only Index that excludes goals scored when developing a prediction as to whether a team might earn points.

For the benefit of all I’ve also included how things take shape when teams play at home versus away from home; there are differences.

So what does this mean?

PWP, even in a format different than general league play shows better than TSR as it is known today (i.e not modernized).

While Goal Differential shows well with respect to the overall correlation coefficient (r) to average points earned it doesn’t show best when racking and stacking it as an Index compared to PWP —> when viewing how it ranks teams versus how well they have progressed into the final stages.

What I found intriguing was that the PWP Predictability Index (which excludes goals scored) actually racked and stacked the top 4 teams in the UEFA Champions League better than Goal Differential.

If you’re someone who likes to bet on games early indications show PWP Predictability (excluding goals scored) has FC Bayern ahead of Barcelona and Real Madrid ahead of Juventus.

Of course Arjen Robben has been injured, and given his considerable influence with FC Bayern Munich that predictability model pretty much goes out the door – or does it?

I’d say yes, because when adding goals scored (the PWP Index) Barcelona leap-frogs past FC Bayern; meaning it is highly likely we see Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Finals…. but you decide.

In Closing:

Awhile ago I wrote that FIFA needed to change how they rank teams across the World.

I remain stubbornly steadfast and steadfastly stubborn that the outputs from both the UEFA Champions League and World Cup PWP Indices lend credibility to the suggestion that FIFA revisit protocols on how they seed teams in their various competitions.

Best, Chris

 

Control or Lack Thereof – MLS 2015

I originally posted this article on Stumptownfooty – an SB Nation blog site where I cover the Portland Timbers…

For over two years I’ve been researching team and league statistics to help paint a picture and perhaps? better explain what is happening on the pitch relative to points earned in a league table.  For the most part every competition measured, MLS 2014, English Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, and the UEFA Champions League have all shown a pattern of consistency.

This pattern isn’t relative to individual teams that win or lose (earn points) it’s relative to the behavior of the league/competition as a whole.

To give you an idea of what I mean here’s a diagram on how each of the six data statistics I track in Attacking Possession with Purpose correlate to points earned for all the teams in those leagues.

League_Control_Attacking_Possession_with_Purpose.0.jpg

By correlate (statistically speaking) it’s the correlation coefficient between each data point and points earned – for those using statistics that is called “r”.

The other technical point here is that the average percentage for each of these statistics doesn’t matter – they are different – but even when they are different their overall relationship (correlation) to points earned is very-very close…

Said differently — there is a consistent pattern of league behavior relative to all leagues measured for team attacking.

What’s kinda cool (for me) is the pattern of information shows up as a bird – with the brains (head) of the bird located in the center (v). And that center (v) in soccer usually represents where the asset of vision comes into play; the better the completed pass into a danger area (attacking final third) the more likely it is to create a shot taken that has a better chance of resulting in a goal scored.

Here’s a look at the same diagram with the MLS 2015 information (red line) and the Portland Timbers information (green line) in comparison to the other leagues:

League_Control_Attacking_Possession_with_Purpose_Plus_MLS_2015.0.jpg

No “Birds” here…

In looking at MLS 2015 (red line) Possession Percentage – there is virtually zero corrleation to points earned – meaning it simply doesn’t matter how much possession (control) you have in a game in MLS.

This isn’t true for Portland however, with Possession Percentage (green line) hovering around -.50 this means the less possession Portland has the more likely they are to earn points – said another way – the more direct the play (this year) the better the odds they take points.

Last year that number was .10 – in 2013 that number was .02.

A takeaway here, on the Timbers, is that they were able to take points in 2013 given any level of possession percentage. In 2014 their tendency was to earn points (more frequently) when having greater possession. This year it’s not only the opposite (so far) it’s actually the opposite by quite a large margin.

Some might say that means the tactical approach for the Timbers is far easier to predict this year than the two previous years….

A few other thoughts about the two diagrams…

When considering Passing Accuracy and Goals Scored versus Shots on Goal – for MLS (red line) that correlation is a bit lower than either the Timbers or the other leagues… for me that means the value of scoring a goal this year carries far less weight than other leagues or even MLS for 2014.

Said a different way – perhaps more goals are being scored this year as a result of individual mistakes instead of controlled, well placed, passes that create more effective shots that finish in the back of the net?

Even more apparent is the far lower difference between MLS 2015, and the others, for Shots on Goal per Shots Taken… in other words there is virtually NO correlation on how accurate a team is in having their shots taken wind up as shots on goal.

In Closing:

Composite_Possession_with_Purpose_Index_MLS_2015.0.jpg

The latest Composite PWP Index for MLS through Week 6.

What’s it mean?

For now, it appears that MLS 2015 is nowhere near the general level of consistency it showed in 2013 or 2014. And the league itself, is also far different from those measured in Europe.

While some may disagree I’d almost be willing to offer that it’s a complete crap-shoot on which teams win this year…

As a Timbers supporter I suppose that means at any given time, from any given angle, the Timbers could either get a goal or concede a goal… regardless of how good or bad their passing or penetration is…

If I were a Head Coach this bit of info might??? be interpretted a few different ways….

Either it doesn’t matter how much you plan, mistakes are going to happen and it’s anybody’s guess who makes those mistakes and when… or,

When the lads take to the pitch make sure you get the ball as far forward, as quickly as possible, so that when a mistake occurs it is more likely to occur outside your own defending final third, or

It doesn’t matter how much is spent on players – as long as we get guys who can strike the ball, in open space, (regardless of how it got there) we have a great shot at winning the game…

Enjoy the rollercoaster ride this year – I know I will!

Best, Chris

Passing – More from Less – Barcley’s Premier League

In updating my Expected Wins series I thought I’d go back and take a look at what teams are performing the best (under the average) when it comes to some of the categories of Possession with Purpose.

For starters, this week, let’s look at Passing Volume; the league average is 433.75 Total Passes per game; when not reaching the league average there have been 98 wins, 91 draws, and 133 losses.

That’s 98 wins from 223 total wins so far this season – representing roughly 44% of all the wins in the Barcley’s Premier League this year.

With respect to draws that’s 91 out of 155 draws so far this year – about 59% of all draws.

As far as losses go, 133 of 220 total losses have been by teams who have failed to exceed the league average in Total Passes per game… about 60%.

So here’s the breakdown on the total number of games a team has not exceeded the League Average in Total Passes of 433:

English Premier League Games under League PAssing Attempts Average

Here’s the data on which teams have the most wins when not exceeding the League Average in Total Passes Attempted:

English Premier League Wins under League Passing Attempts Average

Finally, here’s the data on what the percentage of points earned versus possible points earned where teams have not exceeded the League Average in Total Passes Attempted:

English Premier League PCT Points Earned versus Possible Points under League Passing Attempts Average

A few observations and then something intriguing – juicy bits in my closing…

  • If you’ll notice there are two different colored bars – the blue bar and the light red bar.  The blue bar (in all three diagrams) represents teams that have not exceeded the League Average in Total Passes Attempted more than 66.67% of the time – in other words they’ve had less than 20 games where they’ve fallen below the League Average.
  • The light red bar is the obvious then… those teams that have had greater than 19 games where they’ve not exceeded the League Average in Total Passes Attempted.
  • Of all the light red bar teams the team with the best overall performance in getting more from less is Stoke City.  Yes they have fewer wins than some teams but when it comes to overall points earned based upon the general tendency of the club (heeding the basic fundamental style the Head Coach drives for).
  • Other teams doing well include West Ham and Newcastle.
  • The worst at getting more with less has been Leicester City followed pretty closely by QPR and then Burnley.
  • For those who don’t normally follow the philosophy of less gets you more we see Chelsea and Arsenal at the top and Aston Villa and Everton near the bottom.
  • Aston Villa has already had a coaching change and it’s likely Martinez gets sacked this year too…. why?
  • I think Martinez has set his team up to operate with a possession-based approach – and given their position in the League Standings they not only don’t execute a possession-based approach they also don’t appear to execute a counter-attacking/direct style approach either…  a grade D – if you will – for both styles of attacking.
  • Put in other words they either have the wrong players or they have the wrong coaching philosophy to match the players currently on their roster… for me the cheaper solution is to sack the coach – not buy a whole new bunch of players…

In Closing:

What has rocked me a wee bit, in this analysis, has been the correlation coefficient of this data analysis relative to the Possession with Purpose CPWP Index – the R for this list of teams, in order, is .84 when compared to the CPWP Index (excluding Man City who had zero games below the League Average).

Even more intriguing is that the Correlation Coefficient to the League Standings is .93 -> higher than the CPWP Index as a whole – again – the exclusion of Manchester City.

It should be noted when you include Man City those numbers drop to .38 and .56 respectively – but the intent here isn’t to consider this analysis as a replacement for CPWP but to show that when viewing outcomes resulting from data collected and analyzed as part of CPWP there is relevance to the League Table…

What’s that mean?

For me that means the CPWP Index is extremely strong (statistically) in racking and stacking teams who earn points without being a possession-based team — a technical knock that some have pointed against CPWP.

In addition, it also reinforces how much influence passing can have in how teams eventually find their place in a League Table.

It also shines a brighter light on teams who get more with less and less with less – perhaps a better indicator for Head Coaching changes than what the CPWP Index seems to support?

As noted in Expected Wins Five – more gets you more in the English Premier League but it appears the teams that can adjust to do less and still get more separate themselves a bit better in the overall League Table.

Perhaps this is why Arsenal finds themselves slightly further up the table than Southampton or Liverpool?

If I have time this weekend I’ll try to dig into the Bundesliga and La Liga…   for now it appears that those who get more from less have just as much influence, statistically, in how the League Table shows as those who get more from more…

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

 

 

 

Expected Wins Five – Europe

In my previous series on Expected Wins Four – probably more appropriately entitled “Expected Points” – I’d taken a look at how the general tendencies of four primary Leagues in Europe (England, Germany, Spain, as the UEFA Champions League) compare to Major League Soccer – Is European Football Really Higher Quality than Major League Soccer?

This time I’m focusing strictly on Europe and offering up how things stand in PWP with the season coming to a close soon.  But before digging some things to share about PWP to date:

A reminder – PWP is about two things:

  1. The End State in that the final Index comes as close as possible to the League Table without using points earned in any of the calculations, and
  2. Recognizing that soccer is a game that is played in a free flowing environment – picture two amoeba fighting against each other in a confined space…. There is attempted control by the Head Coach that includes tons of preparation to set the stage for ‘an approach’ to earn three points – and then there is the game itself where there is but one time out (halftime) – no namby pamby huddles or official stoppages of play between possessions.  Meaning these guys play a full-on, in your face (sometimes literally), non-stop, constantly thinking and reacting to the game that can literally see the ball go in any direction at any time… not purely random but close.

Given that, PWP attempts to tone down all that volatility and parse out general tendencies that fall within the bell curve of activities – it’s not perfect – but it’s bloody good… and yes – I have made a few mistakes along the way (if you don’t work you don’t make mistakes).  The latest has been a technical mistake – the relationship of CPWP to the League Table is not an R Squared number (Coefficient of Determination) it is an R number (Correlation Coefficient).

For the stats followers that may be an issue… but even with the Modernized TSR (read here) the CTSR “R” is still generally lower (team to team) and certainly lower (table to table) than CPWP – meaning there still remains room for both statistical analytical approaches in a gmae that is played across the world…

Also, my thanks to some great research by Rob Lowe, a mate with the same passion for footy, who has asked to collaborate with me in the future.  He has done some additional regression analysis on the data points of PWP with respect to goals scored and points earned.  I should point out that his results show that not all six of the data points in the PWP equation independently-directly relate to goals scored or points earned.  For me that is okay – and actually great news for a few reasons…

  1. Both of my two new statistics (Passes Completed in the Final Third per Passes Completed across the Entire Pitch – Step 3 of PWP) and (Shots Taken per Completed Pass within and into the Final Third – Step 5 of PWP) did statistically relate to Goals Scored and Points Earned (independently).  Meaning those new statistics are relevant – both within the context of PWP and outside the context of PWP.  It’s this statistical regression type information that should solidify these two new statistics in the world of soccer.
  2. For both Possession (Step 6 of PWP) and Passing Accuracy (Step 5 of PWP) – as you will see a bit later – those two derived data points were never supposed to directly (independently) relate to goals scored or points earned as a matter of course I have advocated for quite some time that they shouldn’t.  PWP was built with the intention that the six derived data points only needed to relate to each other in a stair step relationship recognizing that in every game a team needs to possess the ball, move the ball, penetrate the opponent’s final third, take shots based upon that penetration, put them on goal, and score goals – all while preventing the opponent from doing the same thing.
  3. Another view on the outcome that Rob has noted – it’s unreasonable to analyze a game of soccer without taking those activities into account.  Rob’s positive feedback was that both possession and passing accuracy act as a “smoothing agent” within the Index – I agree but with beginning to learn the nuance of writing an Academic Paper I would put it this way.
  4. Possession and Passing Accuracy stats have limitations when vewing overall regression analysis relative to goals scored and points earned – but those limitations actually give the overall analyst of soccer a much better understanding about the context of activities that occur when a team is performing better than another team.
  5. In addition, Passing Accuracy statistics provide a coach a great measurement tool for how well some players may develop and progress into higher levels of competition – to exclude data of this import really ignores some of the most fundamental training aspects a team needs to do in order to improve.
  6. Also, there is excessive volatility in the percentages associated with Shots on Goal versus Shots Taken and Goals Scored versus Shots on Goal – if I only look at those two things then evaluating a game is all about (pass-fail) – granted winning and losing is pass-fail.  But to develop a “winning culture” a grading system perhaps more appropriate is A-B-C-D-F – in other words there are levels of success above and beyond pass-fail – especially when you are a team that isn’t at the very top of the league.
  7. By having Possession and Passing Accuracy in the equation you get a much larger (explanatory) picture on the culture of success – and as things appear to take shape, the Index itself, gives better clarity to that level of success for teams that are mid-table as opposed to bottom dwellers or top performers…

Now for the grist in Europe – first up – England: 

Note that the first two diagrams (in each four diagram grouping) highlight where the highest quantity and highest quality occurs within each competition – after some growing pains (earlier Expected Wins measurements) all four competitions now see the teams that win having the highest averages, in all categories, for both quantity and quality… proving (for the most part) that more is better and more results in more…

Barcleys Premier League PWP Data PointsBarcleys Premier League PWP Derived Data PointsEnglish Premier League CPWP IndexEnglish Premier League CPWP Predictability Index

All told the correlation, at this time, remains very strong – note that the “R” has replaced the “R2″ in my third and fourth diagrams.

If I remove Possession and Passing Accuracy from the CPWP Index – the R value drops to .78 – statistically reinforcing that the Index, itself, better represents the standings in the League Table by including Possession and Passing Accuracy data.  Proving yet, another way, that goals scored and shots taken simply do not provide adequate depth on what activities occur on a pitch relative to earning points in the League Table!  And if you’ve read Moderning TSR this doesn’t mean ATSR/DTSR or CTSR doesn’t have value – it does…

As things stand today Chelsea take the League and since Man City, Man United, and Arsenal round out the top four (different orders) in both CPWP and CPWP-PI I’d offer it’s those four that advance to the UEFA Champions League next year.  The bridesmaid looks to be a two horse race (Spurs supporters may argue that) between Liverpool and Southampton.

Note that Southampton edges Liverpool in CPWP but that Liverpool edges Southampton in CPWP-PI – meaning when excluding Goals Scored – Liverpool has better quality than Southampton – so for Liverpool it’s more about converting Shots on Goal to Goals Scored – while for Southampton it’s more about getting clean sheets and scoring at least one goal; at least in my view – others may see that differently?

In retracing the earlier discussion on the data within the six steps of PWP – as you can see in both the first and second Diagrams (for all competitions) the Exponential Curve (Diagram 1) and well as Power Curve (Diagram 2) the stair step relationship between the data – point to point – are incredibly high…  Even more intriguing is how close those “R2″ numbers are for both winning, drawing, and losing… really driving home the point, in my view, just how small the margin of error is between winning, drawing, and losing.

For goals scored (for or against) we really are talking about 5 or 6 standard deviations to the right of the bell curve…

Germany:

 Bundesliga PWP Data PointsBundesliga PWP Derived Data PointsGerman Premier League CPWP IndexGerman Premier League CPWP Predictability IndexPerhaps the most intriguing issue this year isn’t the FC Bayern story – it’s the lack of goal scoring in Borussia Dortmund – when viewing the CPWP Predictability Index clearly Dortmund is offering up all the necessary culture the team needs in order to succeed – with one exception – goal scoring…. wow!

Another surprise may be Wolfsburg I’d pick them, and Bayer Leverkusen to finish two-three in their League Table – both show pedigree in team performance both with and without considering goals scored…

Spain:

La Liga Premier League PWP Data PointsLa Liga Premier League PWP Derived Data PointsSpanish Premier League CPWP IndexSpanish Premier League CPWP Predictability Index

Barcelona and Real Madrid are locked in for the top team battle – my edge goes to Barcelona.  I’d offer more here but I’m simply not up on the La Liga as much as I’d like to be…

UEFA Champions League:

UEFA Champions League PWP Data PointsUEFA Champions League PWP Derived Data PointsUEFA Champions League CPWP IndexUEFA Champions League CPWP Predictability Index

The top eight teams that advanced are identified above – given the general success of CPWP relative to the top eight I’d expect FC Bayern Munich, BArcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus to advance to the semi-finals.

In Closing:

My first of at least 4-5 Academic Papers is soon to be published – my thanks to Terry Favero for helping me work through this new experience – his support, patience, and knowledge in navigating all the nuance associated with writing an Academic Paper has been superb!

All four European competitions show more gets you more – this was not the case for Major League Soccer last year:

Major League Soccer Expected Wins FourWinners Expected Wins PWP Data Relationships Four

When more gets you more in MLS then I sense MLS has reached the BIG TIME – until then I think it’s a great breeding ground for Head Coaches that simply can’t get a job with a soccer club that has huge pockets of money.

Put another way – and many may disagree… I think a Head Coach who really wants to challenge their intellectual grit against another Head Coach can have greater opportunity to do that in MLS than they can by Head Coaching most clubs in Europe.

Why?  For at least one reason – a Head Coach in MLS really has to do more with less…

Errata – the first MLS slide indicates 654 events – the correct number is 646 events…

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT – All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

Barcley’s Premier League – How Goes It?

In my latest installment of Possession with Purpose in Europe I have a number of diagrams to offer to include the latest on the PWP Predictability Index.

You’ll note that in every case the PWP Correlation to the League Tables for all four competitions has stayed the same or gotten better.

Also of interest is that a number of youth soccer teams, and another writer, have joined the queue in leveraging the PWP approach in analyzing soccer games – what remains, after publishing my Academic Paper (real soon as things go) is my ability to get data quicker and to set up a software system – probably using MS Access – to better enable match reporting.

It’s slow going – but that’s okay…  patience is a good thing…

Now for the grist in the English Premier League:

Last we spoke (after Week 26) here was the latest on CPWP Predictability;

  1. Eight of Ten
  2. Seven of Ten
  3. Eight of Ten
  4. Eight of Ten

In looking at Week 27 the CPWP Predictability Index was Six for Eight (hitting the 75% target).

For Week 28 the CPWP-PI had Man City earning at least a point vs. Leicester City, Chelsea earning at least a point vs West Ham, Man United earning at least a point vs Newcastle, Arsenal earning at least a point vs QPR, Everton earning at least a point vs Stoke, Spurs earning at least a point vs Swansea City, Liverpool earning at least a point vs Burnley, Aston Villa v West Brom dead even, Hull City earning at least a point vs Sunderland, and Southampton earning at least a point vs Crystal Palace.  Last but not least there was an off-game played between Spurs and QPR – the CPWP-PI had Spurs earning at least one point – they did.

  • In every case this week the CPWP-PI got it right with one exception – Stoke City took all three points against Everton!  So that made it ten for eleven in identifying whether or not a team would earn at least one point based upon the CPWP-PI.  In only two cases did the team expected to earn a point didn’t get three points – Aston Villa and Hull City.

For Week 29 the CPWP-PI had Chelsea earning at least a point vs Southampton, Everton earning at least a point vs Newcastle, Man United earning at least a point vs Spurs, QPR earning at least a point vs Crystal Palace, Arsenal earning at least a point vs West Ham, Hull City earning at least a point vs Leicester City, Aston Villa earning at least a point vs Sunderland, Stoke City earning at least a point vs West Brom, Man City earning at least a point vs Burnley, and Liverpool earning at least a point vs Swansea City.

  • Burnley had the upset of the week while Crystal Palace and West Brom continued their good, recent, run of form.  All told CPWP-PI correctly identified seven of ten teams earning points that week.

For Week 30 the CPWP-PI had Man United earning at least a point vs Liverpool, Chelsea earning at least a point vs Hull City, Everton earning at least a point vs QPR, Man City earning at least a point vs West Brom, Swansea City earning at least a point vs Aston Villa, Arsenal earning at least a point vs Newcastle, Southampton earning at least a point vs Burnley, Stoke City earning at least a point vs Crystal Palace, Spurs earning at least a point vs Leicester City, and West Ham earning at least a point vs Sunderland.

  • In every case but one the CPWP-PI correctly predicted what team would earn at least one point except for the loss Stoke City had against Crystal Palace – again – a team in good form since the coaching change!  That makes it nine of ten again this past week.

In summary:

  • Eight of Ten
  • Seven of Ten
  • Eight of Ten
  • Eight of Ten
  • Ten of Eleven
  • Seven of Ten
  • Nine of Ten
  • Totaling 57 of 71 for an 80% accuracy rating

Here’s the CPWP Index after Week 30:

CPWP Through Week 30 EPLHere’s the CPWP-PI Predictability Index for Week 30:

CPWP Predictability Index Through Week 30 EPL

For this next week CPWP-PI has:

  • Arsenal earning at least a point vs. Liverpool
  • Southampton earning at least a point vs. Everton
  • West Ham earning at least a point vs. Leicester City
  • Man United earning at least a point vs. Aston Villa
  • Swansea City earning at least a point vs. Hull City
  • West Brom earning at least a point vs. QPR
  • Chelsea earning at least a point vs. Stoke City
  • Spurs earning at least a point vs. Burnley
  • Newcastle earning at least a point vs. Sunderland, and
  • Man City earning at least a point vs. Crystal Palace
  • Another odd game has Aston Villa earning at least a point vs. QPR

In Closing:

Completion of my Academic Paper on Possession with Purpose nears…  another writer has asked to begin leveraging PWP analysis to their own team writing efforts and there are now three youth soccer clubs using the concepts and philosophy of PWP in trying to help their teams improve – both collectively as well as for their individual players.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  PWP – Trademark

Redefining and Modernizing Total Shots Ratio

For many years Total Shots Ratio has plodded along as a good indicator of team shooting performance, not overall team performance, but shooting performance.

It’s a good enough indicator that its found its way into generic match reports for professional soccer teams and has good visibility on Opta – a well recognized soccer statistics company now owned by Perform Group.

But with all that publicity and ‘useability’ that doesn’t make it ‘right’!

Why do I say that?

Within a game of football there are always two teams playing against each other – so team performance statistics should not only take into account what the attacking team is doing – they should also take into account what the opponent is doing to the attacking team.

So what do I mean about modernizing TSR.  Most define TSR has simply the volume of shots one team takes versus the volume of shots another team takes.  That’s okay but the end state is excluded – the result – a goal scored.

So my new vision of TSR centers around the end state as well as the volume – in other words the equation for Attacking TSR (ATSR) now becomes Goals Scored/Shots Taken and then Defending TSR (DTSR) becomes the percentage of your opponent’s Goals Scored/Shots Taken.

Finally, in looking at how well Composite Possession with Purpose correlates to Points Earned in the League Table I would create Composite TSR (CTSR).

Before getting to the numbers – some history first:

I built Possession with Purpose using this philosophy and if you’ve been following my efforts for the last two years you know that my correlations to points earned in the league table are extremely high…  To date:

  • MLS 2014 = .86
  • Bundesliga = .92
  • English Premier League =.92
  • La Liga =.91
  • UEFA Champions League =.87

So let’s peel back the regular way TSR correlates to Points earned in last year’s MLS – when viewing the old way (Total Shots only as a percentage for both teams) the Correlation Coefficient “r” for the entire league was .32.

My new way of calculating CTSR with the End State of Goals scored has a correlation coefficient “r” of .75

Far higher…  now for some data.

Here’s the correlation of the my new TSR Family of Indices shows with respect to Points Earned in the League Table – the same analyses used with respect to CPWP above:

  • MLS 2014 ATSR .74) DTSR (-.54) CTSR (.75)
  • Bundesliga ATSR (.53) DTSR (-.41) CTSR (.68)
  • EPL ATSR (.86) DTSR (-.35) CTSR (.76)
  • La Liga ATSR (.88) DTSR (-.77) CTSR (.92)
  • UEFA ATSR (.64) DTSR (-.40) CTSR (.65)

Like CPWP the correlations vary – in four of five competitions the CTSR has a better correlation to points earned in the league table – while in one case (the EPL) ATSR has the best correlation.

So how do the numbers stack up for some individual teams when evaluating ATSR, DTSR, CTSR, and CPWP compared to those teams points earned throughout the season?

In other words what do the correlations look like (game to game) through the course of a season for sample teams within each of those Leagues?

Samples ATSR DTSR CTSR CPWP

In almost every sample TSR (now ATSR) has a lower, overall correlation to a teams’ points earned in the League Table than CTSR (Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona being the exception) – this pattern follows the same pattern seen with CPWP almost always having a higher correlation than APWP and Goal Differential almost always having a higher correlation than Goals Scored.

I’ve also taken the liberty of highlighting which Composite Index has the best correlation to points earned between all four categories – in every instance either CTSR or CPWP is higher than TSR.  But, as can be seen, sometimes CTSR is higher than CPWP…

What this proves is that there simply isn’t one Index that is far better or far worse than the other – it shows that different teams show different styles that yield better relationships to points earned in different ways —> meaning there is not only room for improvement in current TSR statistics but room for the inclusion of PWP principles within the Industry standard.

I would offer – however – that even when you create CTSR the backbone of that data can’t offer up supporting analyses on how a team attacks or defends.  It’s still only relevant to the volume of shots taken and goals scored.

And while the volume of shots on goal and goals scored appears to be a constant across most competitive leagues (average greater than 5 and 2 respectively for teams winning on a regular basis) the average of shots taken for winning teams is not as constant… (Expected Wins 4)  —> why I favor PWP over TSR – nothing personal – just my view…

In Closing:

I’m not sure I did a good job of comparing what I view as the old way to calculate TSR (the way that ignores the End State of Scoring a goal) and how an update to it can help tell a better story that actually correlates better to the complexities of soccer.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

Catching up with Europe…

It’s been a bit since I last offered anything on Europe – sorry – just a whole lot going on to include putting together an Academic Paper, or five, on Possession with Purpose.

Since it’s been awhile here’s the primary Composite Index for all four areas covered – I’ll try to offer some more insight into the specific competitions a bit later – for now I appreciate your patience and hope this scratches the itch for a wee bit.

Oh – and a surprise at the end about Total Shot Ratio…

La Liga:

La Liga CPWP Index Week 26Clearly Barcelona is now firing on all cylinders – it’s a two horse race with Real Madrid while the next battle looming appears to be Valencia and Atletico Madrid.

Bundesliga:

Bundesliga CPWP Index Week 24Does anyone really think anybody is going to beat out FC Bayern Munich?  Probably not – but the other top three in the League Table are also the other top three here – the leader here appears to be Wolfsburg – and if a betting man that one seems a worthy gamble on them finishing second…

English Premier League:

English Premier League CPWP Index Week 28

 

I wouldn’t say it’s a runaway yet – still some games to be played but the real battle seems to be who finishes fifth – the bridesmaid as some say?  As for Everton – well……….  I’d be very surprised to see Martinez back next year – how can a team so dominant in possession completely lack the ability to finish?  It’s called possession with no purpose – and it may not just be all about their strikers….

UEFA Champions League:

UEFA Champions League CPWP Index After Seven Games

Was anyone not surprised with Monaco defeating Arsenal?  In considering how things are developing it probably should have been foreseen a bit better…

In Closing:

I’ll try to offer up the Predictability Indices later this week in preparation for the Weekend.

By the way, when putting together the Academic Paper on PWP I have had to create two new Total Shot Ratio indicators…

As things have stood so far TSR has merely been an indicator viewed with attacking team data only and it’s never been flipped to see how the opponent behaves in TSR with respect to the other team.

Well I’ve fixed that, if you will.

Now like Attacking PWP, Defending PWP, and the Composite PWP I’ve taken TSR – renamed it to Attacking TSR (ATSR), and created Defending TSR (DTSR /// what the Opponent’s combined ATSR’s are against you), and CTSR – the difference between ATSR and DTSR…

I’ll be offering up more about that in my upcoming paper – you should know now that CTSR has a higher correlation (R^2) to Points Earned in the League Table than the old TSR…

In case you don’t know what TSR is – here’s an explanation pulled (DIRECTLY) from Statsbomb:

“TSR – Total Shots Ratio
A ratio to explain how teams fare against their average competition in the shots battle. Ex: If Manchester City has 20 shots in the match and Newcastle have 10, City’s TSR for that match is .67, Newcastle’s is .33.

James Grayson has written about this frequently on his website here. We care about TSR for teams because it has a reasonably strong correlation to points and goal difference.

In hockey, this is called Corsi.”

So What I’ve done is taken the same approach as what I did when creating Possession with Purpose – I’ve also created a Defending TSR (how the Opponent does against you) – so you have your teams Attacking TSR but also the Opponents Attacking TSR against you – called Defending TSR.

Composite TSR is created by subtracting DTSR from ATSR…  note that CTSR is higher than ATSR with one exception – in other words the difference between the two TSR’s gives you a better picture and better correlation to points earned in the League Table than just plain TSR…

All told though – CTSR does not exceed the R^2 of CPWP – again with but one exception and that exception varies from week to week…

And TSR gives you no objective evidence on team attacking and defending behavior leading up to shots taken or goals scored…  this is not to be critical of TSR – it simply points out the technical weakness in the ratio compared to PWP.

Here’s a snippet of what I mean:

Competition

CPWP to Pts Earned APWP to Pts Earned DPWP to Pts Earned ATSR to Pts Earned DTSR to Pts Earned CTSR to Pts Earned

MLS 2014

0.85 0.79 -0.68

0.74

-0.54 0.75

UEFA

0.87 0.8 -0.76 0.64 -0.4

0.65

EPL

0.92 0.9 -0.85 0.86 -0.35

0.76

Bundesliga

0.92 0.83 -0.81 0.53 -0.41

0.68

La Liga 0.91 0.88 -0.88 0.88 -0.77

0.92

The number in bold is the one with the highest R Squared to Points Earned – at least this week…  and the numbers are those R Squared with respect to the League Table – not indicative of what the CTSR is for each team on a game to game basis – I will publish those a bit later this week… hope that clears up any confusion and appreciate your patience.

As of the 12th of March I have published that additional article speaking to TSR and the recommended changes to the overall effort… it’s here:  Modernizing TSR

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, ALL Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

 

 

Barcley’s Premier League Week 26 in Review

The CPWP Predictability Index has been on a pretty good run since starting it up about 3 weeks ago; so if things go well I’d expect about five/six out of eight games being spot on after this weekends games.

For now here’s what I offered last week followed by the outcome:

Aston Villa v Stoke City: Stoke City should earn the points here and this (could?) be the beginning of a stretch where Stoke may maximize 21 points out of 27 in the next nine games.

Stoke City took three points…

Chelsea v Burnley: Chelsea should earn maximum points here but on short rest it is likely the squad taking on Burnley will have a few regular non-starters…

Chelsea “should” ahve earned maximum points but they didn’t – they still got a point however.

Crystal Palace v Arsenal: Arsenal should take maximum points here but given they have Monaco in four days time it is likely, they too, rest a starter or two. Intriguing here is that Monaco is a team who likes to cede possession – with that perhaps Wenger has one or two players going back to back games that we might not normally consider happening. Both games are a must three points given the severity on what’s at stake…

Arsenal earned maximum points.

Hull City v QPR: Hull City should earn points here, I’d expect a happy face from Steve Bruce after this one.

Hull City earned maximum points.

Sunderland v West Brom: Although playing away from home I can still see West Brom earning at least a point here.

West Brom did earn that point.

Swansea City v Man United: United really need to continue taking maximum points and this game may take the shape where Swansea actually wins the possession battle but loses overall control when it comes to goals scored. United earn points in this one.

Swansea lost the possession battle – big time – and took three points!

Man City v Newcastle: Like Arsenal, Man City have their Premier League game first – they need three points here or even the confidence of making Europe next year could come into question… Man City earn points.

Man City took three points in a BIG way.

Spurs v West Ham: Again a wicked good London derby – I see Spurs taking maximum points here but never-ever doubt the will of Allardyce and the Hammers – Sam would be glowing if he got three points but, in the end, I think he would settle for one… I doubt Spurs think the same way on that score…

Never-ever doubt the will of Allardyce – Spurs got a point – but not maximum points.

Everton v Leicester City: Martinez needs his team to take three points here – anything less would begin to fuel the talk that perhaps another leader is needed to manage the blues… or at least it would be crystal clear their current set of strikers really suck…

Martinez failed to take maximum points – they got a point but that’s it…  given the past track record in teams performing badly, as rated through PWP (using MLS as an example – as well as Paul Lambert) Martinez may be on his last legs with the Toffies…

Southampton v Liverpool: This is the best game (outside of Spurs/Hammers) this next round – a can’t miss if your any type of football fan! The Saints are not underdogs here – I see them as favorites even though the Pudlians are on a bit of a run… Koeman v Rogers… game on – Saints should earn the points here – if not – then perhaps the chrome fenders are beginning to show some rust?!? As for Rogers – he really needs to get points here to!?!

The chrome fenders may be beginning to rust – but have heart there were some dubious calls in this game and PWP does not account for odd non-call PK’s… anyhow – no excuses Southampton did not earn three points or even one.

All told eight of the ten games showed the CPWP Predictability Index team getting at least a point – that makes the CPWP Predictability record:

  1. Eight of Ten
  2. Seven of Ten
  3. Eight of Ten
  4. Eight of Ten
  5. for a combined 31 out of 40… seems like a good bet where the odds show ~75% accuracy in picking the teams who take points…

So how about Week 27?  A short week so to speak…

West Ham v Crystal Palace:  West Ham should take at least a point here but really should take maximum points – but there may be a slight let down given that late equaliser on the PK rebound against Spurs…  That being said Crystal Palace will most certainly play for a point knowing that any sort of mistake by West Ham could see them taking three…

Burnley v Swansea City:  Who knows how this will go given the point Burnley stole from Chelsea – that said Swansea should take at least one but very likely three – no thanks to the Ref I might add.

Manchester United v Sunderland:  No brainer this one?  MUFC take three – if they don’t – wow…..

Newcastle v Aston Villa:  I don’t see Tim Sherwood getting any better result here than he did last week – Newcastle should get the point – if not three.

Stoke City v Hull City:  This game may be closer than some expect – even with Hull City playing at Stoke City.  That said a draw may be the eventual outcome but the initial odds indicate Stoke should be on the pluc end more than Hull.

West Brom v Southampton: Critical mass here for Southampton – three points really is a must – and going against West Brom should get them three; or at least one point at a minimum.

Liverpool v Manchester City:  The tough one this week – Liverpool are on a run and I spurned that run last week against Southampton – that said Man City have the best overall team possession statistics of anyone in the BPL – it’s really hard to bet against Man City in this one; even with Liverpool at home.  My call is Man City gets at least one point here.

Arsenal v Everton: This game will be even tighter than the Liverpool v Man City game – Everton continue to be one of the top teams in possession-based attacking – what they have lacked is finishing.  Given that Monaco just came into London and took three points in the UEFA Champions League I really doubt Wenger will be in the mood to see his team drop three points here.  My call is Arsenal takes at least one point – with three points really being the expectation – and another nail in the coffin of Martinez (didn’t I use that phrase the week before Lambert got sacked?).

All to play for this weekend…

PS:  When I get time I will go back and try to show how the CPWP Predictability Index has faired for the Bundesliga and La Liga – just finding it hard to find the time.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

 

Can Jozy Altidore bring Toronto to the Playoffs?

I’ll try to offer some thoughts on this a bit later but to first understand a possible answer to this question I felt it worthy to conduct a compare and contrast between two teams –  (LA Galaxy and Toronto FC).

To begin; here’s a reminder on how these two teams finished in the Composite Possession with Purpose Index last year – remembering also that LA ended up with 61 points and Toronto had 41 points:

CPWP STRATEGIC INDEX END OF SEASON 2014 COMBINED

If Possession with Purpose is new to you I suggest you read here: Possession with Purpose.  For statistical purposes the R2 (R squared) for the Index compared to points earned was .85.

Next up – the Big Picture:

The Big Picture

Reading from left to right:

  • Average PWP Composite Index – the numbers here represent the difference between the subtracting the PWP Defending Index (grouping 3) from the PWP Attacking Index (grouping 2) for each team; LA being the dark blue bar and Toronto being the red bar.
  • In other words 2.31 from 2.53 = .21 for LA and 2.42 from 2.33 = -.09 for Toronto. (a difference of .30)
  • The 4th grouping – Composite PWP Predictability is the Composite PWP Index (minus) all statistical data associated with a goal scored/goal against – in other words it’s a pure representation of the primary team activities occuring on the pitch exclusive of goals scored.  The R2 for the Predictability Index is .69.
  • Next over is average Goals Scored for each team throughout the year for each game.
  • This is followed by the average Goals Scored by the Opponent against each team throughout the year.
  • Second from last is the average Goal Differential – the same logic applies here that is used to create the Composite PWP Index – subtract Goals Scored by the Opponent Goals Scored against that team.
  • Last and most important – the average points earned for each team for each game.
  • In every case LA exceeded Toronto.

So why were LA better – was it just down to goals scored, higher accuracy in goals scored, or something else?

A way to answer that is by peeling back some differences in team performance.

For example…  In the diagram above the difference between LA and TFC, in APWP (grouping 2), is 2.52 – 2.33  = .19.  Meaning the overall difference in collective team performance of those two teams is 19%.

So where do those percentage point differences occur in looking at the six quality measurements of APWP?

Here’s the APWP diagram that peels back the six primary categories used to create the Index:

Quality Attacking PWP

I’ve highlighted two areas and included a smaller area where the word ‘wash’ appears.

“Wash” simply means those two areas balance each other out – the real differences come from looking at the ligh green shaded areas.  Those areas were:

  • Possession percentage – LA exceeded Toronto by ~6%
  • Passing accuracy – LA exceeded Toronto by ~5%
  • Penetrating the opponents defending final third – LA exceeded Toronto by ~3%
  • Goals scored per shots on goal – LA exceeded Toronto by ~6%

All told roughly 1/4 of the overall difference in team performance (quality) came from goals scored per shots on goal…

Meaning LA performed better in scoring goals but they also performed far better in three other areas, possession, passing accuracy and penetration.

That, alone, may be able to help answer the question about Jozy Altidore but attacking is only one part of the game – how about Defending PWP?

Quality Defending PWP

Toronto were worse than LA by 11% points 2.31 – 2.42 (lower is better)

In looking at the DPWP diagram (above) I’ve taken the same approach – the light green shaded areas show differences while the ‘Wash’ area shows where the teams percentages roughly balance each other out.

The difference in LA team performance, again, comes in preventing their opponents from having more control over the game leading up to (and) preventing goals scored against.

In other words LA simply had better overall team defending performances where goals scored was a wash.

In Closing:

Before offering my final thoughts on Jozy Altidore another quick example.

FC Dallas, who made the Playoffs last year, had similar team performances in quality to Toronto – with one exception.

FC Dallas had a 43.87% accuracy rating in converting shots on goal to goals scored compared to Toronto’s 31.21%.

But FC Dallas didn’t reach the pinnacle.

Bottom line at the Bottom:

My view is this: The addition of Jozy Altidore might help Toronto reach the Playoffs but it is unlikely it will lead to Toronto winning the Championship – if they do the Reds will probably play to the style of FC Dallas – and so far that style of attack has not led to a Championship – at least not in the last four years.

What do you think?

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark.