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

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