Tagged: Aston Villa

English Premier League – Possession with Purpose – Week 2

Two weeks in and Manchester City pretty much throws the gauntlet down against Liverpool and walks away with a dominating win.

Three other teams have also begun the season with six points (Spurs, Swansea, and Chelsea) but do those four teams show the most consistency with purpose in possession, penetration and creation of shots taken that result in goals scored?

And, do those same four teams show the most consistency in preventing their opponents from doing the same thing to them?

What about the early season dogs (QPR, Burnley, Crystal Palace, and Newcastle) – where do they fit?

I’ll try to answer those questions without too much detail given the season is just two weeks old.

So to begin; here’s the Composite PWP (CPWP) Strategic Index after Week 2:

CPWP EPL AFTER WEEK 2

Observations:

  1. A quick look at the table sees the top four in the Index as being the top four in the Table – not specifically in order but there it is.
  2. In looking at the bottom end of the Table the bottom four teams in the Index match exactly the bottom four in the Table.
  3. I doubt very much the level of accuracy will match the League Table that well throughout the year.
  4. Of note is that Arsenal, Hull and Aston Villa are next up in the Table but Villa seems to drift down a bit in the CPWP; perhaps the APWP or DPWP might explain that drift compared to Arsenal or Hull City?
  5. As a reminder – the End State of the Index is to provide an objective view of team performance indicators that don’t include Points in the League Table – in other words it’s a collection of data points, that when combined, can provide value in what team activities are occurring that are directly supporting results on the pitch – sometimes results on the pitch don’t match points earned…
  6. In leveraging this Index last year in the MLS it was very accurate in reflecting why certain Head Coaches may have been sacked – in a League like the EPL (where everything is expensive) perhaps this Index might have even more value to ownership?
  7. Movement in the Index – in the MLS, this last year, I have seen teams move up as many as 12 places and down as many as 11 places – after the 4th week – so the Index is not likely to stay constant – there will be changes.

I do not quantify Index outputs specific to individual player acquisition or performance – there is no intent to do this.  It’s my belief, good or bad, that even with individual star performances a team is a team is a team – you win as a team and you lose as a team… but this Index isn’t intended to stop others from doing that.

I leave that individual analyses for others who are far better at digging into the weeds than I – for the EPL I’d imagine many folks gravitate to @statsbomb or other @SBNation sites – I respect their individual analyses as I hope they respect my team analyses.

Whether the consistency of value shows itself in assessing team performance in the EPL like it has in Major League Soccer I have no idea – we will follow that journey, in public, together…

Now for Attacking PWP (APWP):

APWP EPL AFTER WEEK 2

Observations:

  1. In recalling Villa’s drift (it is still early) perhaps it’s an early indication that Villa are playing slightly more direct (given past indications analyzing Major League Soccer) – or with a greater lean towards counter-attacking and quick transition?
  2. In taking a quick look at their average volume of passes per game (305) compared to the rest of the EPL (456) it would seem to indicate Villa are playing more direct football.
  3. The team with the highest APWP while falling below the average number of passes attempted, per game, is Leicester City; they average 308 passes per game compared to the 456 average of EPL.  For me that’s an early indicator that they are making the best use of a direct attacking scheme – others may have a different view?
  4. The team with the lowest APWP while showing higher than the average number of passes attempted, ~(500 per game), is Stoke City – that might indicate the Potters are looking to possess the ball more with the intent to possess it as opposed to penetrating with it.  Folks who follow Stoke a bit closer might be able to add to that as I’ve yet to see them play this year.
  5. In terms of early form, relative to the six team performance indicators, Chelsea are tops with Everton, Arsenal, and Man City close behind.
  6. With respect to bottom feeders QPR are bottom in CPWP and bottom in APWP as well; most figured they’d be early favorites for relegation – the PWP Indices seem to lean that way already as well…
  7. Perhaps the early surprise in APWP is Newcastle?  Not sure about that one – last time I lived in England Alan Shearer was their striker and probably the best one in the country at that time…  others will no better about what Alan Pardew is up to…

Next up Defending PWP (DPWP):

DPWP EPL AFTER WEEK 2

Observations:

  1. Leaders here include Spurs, Man City, Swansea and Newcastle – is this an early indicator that Newcastle has experienced bad luck already?  Not sure but three of the bottom dwellers here are three of the four bottom dwellers in CPWP.
  2. Although not real clear here it might be easy to forget that Arsenal had a blindingly great first game and then eked out a draw against Everton in the last ten minutes; in considering that this data still just represents two games…
  3. Recall Stoke City – and the potential view that they might be possessing the ball with an intent to possess more-so than penetrate – even with just 1 point in the League Table their DPWP exceeds West Ham, Liverpool, and others who are further up the table.
  4. Man City showed great nous last year in winning the League and it reaffirmed for many of us the importance of defending – Liverpool were close last year given an awesome attack – players have changed but it’s likely the system/approach has not varied that much.  And after two games Liverpool are embedded firmly in the middle of the DPWP pack.
  5. Can they push higher up the DPWP? And if so, will that climb in the DPWP Index match a climb in the League Table; or vice versa?

In Closing:

Far too early to look for trends but these first few weeks will provide a baseline for future trends.

As noted in my most recent articles on Possession – the more accurate soundbite on whether or not a team is more likely to win has more relevance with respect to Passing Accuracy (>77% in MLS usually means a team is more likely to win) and not Possession.

The margin of winning and losing in MLS is far to muddied when looking at Possession – so as the EPL season continues I will also make it a point to study what ‘soundbite’ has more relevance; Passing Accuracy or Possession.

Other links that may be of interest to you include:

Possession with Purpose

My presentation at the World Conference on Science and Soccer

New Statistics (Open Shots and Open Passes)

Thanks in advance for your patience.

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

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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

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Barcley’s Premier League Week 25 in Review and Week 26 Outlook

There appear to be seven teams in the real run-up to who makes Europe next year with the top four going for the major prize and the fifth team relegated, if you will, to the Europa League.  

I’m sure that isn’t ideal for the likes of Arsenal, Southampton, Man City, Man United, Tottenham, or Liverpool but someone’s gonna get fifth and that’s a damn sight better than sixth or seventh!

As for any outsiders squeaking in – perhaps Stoke City has the best chance considering their schedule for the next nine games, but even maximum points, excluding predicted losses to Southampton and Chelsea probably still don’t see them making fifth.

So how did the teams do mid-week and how did that compare to what the CPWP Predictability Index offered?

Of the ten games the Index was only pear-shaped twice – the somewhat stunning loss Swansea had to West Brom and the ever odd-team Sunderland and their loss to QPR.  Otherwise where the Index predicted a team would garner points they did.  Eight of ten and in only two of those matches did the predicted teams take just one point as opposed to three (Newcastle v Crystal Palace and Southampton v West Ham).

So for three weeks now that’s at least seven games each week where the Predictability Index got it right; eight times in the first effort, seven times the second go-round, and eight times this go round.

By the way – here’s what I said last week about Aston Villa…  Figure plenty of faces from Steve Bruce and some tense times for Paul Lambert – it is likely a loss here, to Hull City, will add another nail to his coffin… I wonder how Paul Lambert would do managing a team in Major League Soccer?    Obviously Paul Lambert was sacked – I guess that was the last nail!

Sorry to see Lambert get the sack – he certainly has shown good pedigree – perhaps he finds himself leading another team next year into the Premier League – or perhaps???  he finds himself getting out of the promotion/relegation battle as a Head Coach and works his way across the pond where the chances of leading a team to a championship are more than just who has the biggest wallet…

Before getting to the next BPL week of predictions here’s a diagram on how the teams stack up in the Possession with Purpose Index (through week 25) alongside how the teams line up in the League Table (the R2 at Week 25 is .91):

BPL Standings and Index Through Week 25

 

Now for the next round as the big boys prepare for Europe tomorrow…  here’s the Predictability Index as things stand today:

CPWP Predictability Index Through Week 25

The next round sees:

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.

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…

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…

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

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

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.

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.

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…

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…

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!?!

In closing:

I am expanding my support for other writers later this week as I’ll be providing Ed Bottomley (Dixies Sixty) some grist about Everton so far this year.  I’m not sure how the final article will look but when written I’ll provide a link here.  For now I’d just offer that Everton are the Borussia Dortmund of the Bundesliga or Borussia Dortmund are the Everton of the Barcley’s Premier League…  neither one are in an enviable position, excluding of course, Dortmund has made it to the next stages of the UEFA Champions League this year.

If you’re writing for your favorite team and your like Tim (@7amkickoff) or Ed (Dixie Sixty) and you’d like some PWP grist for your articles let me know.

Best, Chris

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The losers keep losing – Barcley’s Premier League

The bottom six teams, after Week 23, all lost this week with a combined total of 19 Goals Against and 2 Goals For… Pretty clear that defense simply wasn’t a key topic of interest for those in the relegation battle.

If you follow my efforts I try to stay away from Goals Scored and Goals Against – it’s next to impossible but at least it’s an effort to try and explain what happens on the pitch in addition to just goals scored/against.

To begin this week here’s the Possession with Purpose Index (as a Predictability Model) from last week to compare it with outcomes this week.

In other words, how did the teams (in head to head competition) do against each other compared to the CPWP Predictability Index from last week?

Here’s the Model from last week:

CPWP Predictability Index Week 22

Chelsea and Man City drew – the Index offers that Chelsea should have taken points – they did – but so did Man City.

Southampton lost to Swansea in a game I would have thought everyone would have expected to see Southampton win given their complete domination.

But alas, all the possession simply ended up in frustration – not elation.

As for all the other games…

Liverpool earned points against West Ham – as the Index shows they should have.

Man United earned points against Leicester City – as the Index shows they should have.

Arsenal earned points against Aston Villa – as the Index shows they should have.

Everton earned points against Crystal Palace – as the Index shows they should have.

Spurs earned points against West Brom – as the Index shows they should have.

Stoke City earned points against QPR – as the Index shows they should have.

Newscastle earned points against Hull City – as the Index shows they should have.

Sunderland earned points against Burnley – as the Index shows they should have.

All told – pretty accurate – and the R2 for this Index compared to the League Table (excluding Points AND Goals) is .84; in other words the overall Index is 84% accurate in comparing the position of each team in the Index to their position in the League Table!

Before moving on to the CPWP Predictability Index for next week here’s a quick look at the overall CPWP Composite Index (that includes goals scored) after Week 23; and the R2 (correlation) of this Index to the League Table.

CPWP Index Through Week 23

In comparing Week 22 to Week 23 (Week 22 below):

Arsenal have leapfrogged Southampton and Hull City have moved ahead of West Brom – otherwise no changes given this past weeks’ activity…

It’s understandable that Arsenal would have jumped in front of Southampton – that 5-nil win for the Gunners was a crushing defeat to Paul Lambert’s side and perhaps??? an early nail in the coffin of his Head Coaching reign in the Midlands.

As for Hull City and West Brom – the overall team performance percentages from these two sides is so small you’d be hard pressed to fit a frogs hair in-between the two sides…  Hull City were thrashed this week 3-nil by Newcastle while West Brom were slammed 3-nil by Spurs!

The primary difference, in team performance, this week for those two teams came down to these things:

  • Possession – Hull City had ~52% compared to West Brom at 35%
  • Shots on Goal – Hull City put ~54% of their Shots Taken on Goal while West Brom put ~31% of theirs on Goal…

Sadly neither team could convert — or — more sarcastically, Hull City was far more successful in Possession WITHOUT Purpose than West Brom…

Some might offer that the tactical strategy employed by Steve Bruce was complete bollocks as his team wasted a significant amount of possession and basically got counter-attacked to death…

In other words John Carver carved up Hull City…

CPWP Strategic Index Week 22

In moving on to next week’s schedule and the CPWP Predictability Index after Week 23:

CPWP Predictability Index Through Week 23Before getting into the Index prognostications/expectations:

Possession with Purpose is not about winning and losing; it’s about points earned – so when comparing the two-digit numbers it’s a forecast as to which team is more likely to earn points.

Also – there are no adjustments made in this Index relative to a game being played at home versus away – there are not enough sample points to validate a 95% Confidence Level in the forecast to do that…

And overall, there is no ‘smoothing of any sort’ with any of the statistical analysis used in Possession with Purpose.  What you see is what you get.

Now for the rundown for next week:

Spurs are up against Arsenal – Arsenal should earn the points.

Aston Villa versus Chelsea – Chelsea should earn the points; I’d expect EVERY betting house probably has that too…

Leicester City against Crystal Palace – close one hear but Leicester City should earn the points.

Manchester City against Hull City – Manchester City should earn the points.

QPR versus Southampton – Southampton should earn the points.

Swansea City against Sunderland – Swansea should earn the points – but – Defoe has already scored a goal and the CPWP Index does not accurately account for what influence Defoe may have.

Everton versus Liverpool – Everton should earn the points.

Burnley against West Brom – West Brom should earn the points.

Newcastle versus Stoke City – Stoke City should earn the points – but given the fractional difference between the teams a draw is likely as well.

West Ham United against Man United – Man United should earn the points.

In Closing:

An exciting week for Swansea fans as Jonjo Shelvey certainly nailed a superb game winner while the Gunners completely crushed an ailing Villa…  the plot thickens as the teams begin to feel the pucker factor…

Who makes Europe for next year – who doesn’t – and who gets relegated?

All to play for….

Best, Chris

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EPL – Charting progress after 12 Weeks

It’s been a couple of weeks since I checked in with the English Premier League so here’s a quick fly-by on who’s leading the league in team performance, exclusive of the League Table.

That’s not to say I’ll ignore the League Table – in summary here’s the top six and the bottom six respectively:

  1. Chelsea, 32 Points
  2. Southampton, 26 Points
  3. Man City, 24 Points
  4. Man United, 19 Points
  5. Newcastle, 19 Points
  6. West Ham, 18 Points
  7. Swansea City, 18 Points

Bottom Six:

  1. QPR, 8 Points
  2. Burnley, 10 Points
  3. Leicester City, 10 Points
  4. Hull City, 11 Points
  5. Aston Villa, 12 Points
  6. Crystal Palace, 12 Points

Now for my Composite PWP Strategic Index:

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 12

 

In comparing the top six in the League Table to the top six in my Index Chelsea, Southampton, Man City, Swansea City, and Man United are all in.

Everton and Arsenal continue to ride high in this Index – whether that continues or not is yet to be seen.

The question I have is this — is it the results that end up catching up with the team performances, or is it the team performances that end up catching up with the results?

In Major League Soccer the team performances usually seemed to lag when compared to the results – if that is the case here then I’d expect Everton and Arsenal to drop further in the League Table if there are systemtic attacking or defending issues.

On the other hand – like Newcastle – the team performance lags the results and both Arsenal and Everton should begin winning more games…. more to follow…

As for West Ham, we already know they will be on the shorter end given their more direct style of play but the surprise mover is Newcastle; especially since in Week 5, where they were 6th worst in the Composite Index (see below).

Clearly team performance has improved considerably – not only in results but in team performance; that’s a good thing when considering the viability of the Index.  Besides, I don’t read too often anymore where Alan Pardew’s head coaching status is in question.

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

As for the bottom six; well we have QPR bottom in both, with Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Leicester City, and Burnley all in; the odd one out is Hull City.

Might that mean Hull City are more on the ‘lucky’ end of results than their team performance indicates?

I’m not sure but when we peel back APWP and DPWP we might be able to see where the general weaknesses and strengths are that help Hull City stay outside the relegation zone as the season continues.

Attacking PWP Strategic Index:

APWP Strategic Index EPL Week 12In considering the top six teams in the League Table it appears to me that the Attacking team performances for Chelsea, Man City, Southampton, Man United, and West Ham are a strength more than a weakness.

Defending PWP Strategic Index:

DPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 12Given that the DPWP for Newcastle is stronger than the APWP, I’d offer that it’s the Defending team performance that is helping to push Newcastle near top of the table.

Not to be missed though is that Southampton, Man City, Chelsea, and Man United are also all in the top six.

The lone wolf, in defending, is West Ham.  But we already know from previous analyses that Sam Allardyce likes to play more counter-attacking football – so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see them in or around the middle.

It’s when their DPWP starts dipping below the halfway point that those forever blowing bubbles should be considered.

In Closing:

Southampton continues to find success; granted their 1-1 draw with Aston Villa was probably disappointing, but with that 80th minute goal they were able to scratch out at least one point against Villa.

The surprising result to me, and probably most everyone else, was the 3-1 pasting Liverpool took against Crystal Palace.

The most amazing statistics for me out of that game was seeing Palace offer up 15 shots taken with just 71 completed passes in the Liverpool Defending Final Third – and of those – 15 shots were taken with five of them were on goal!

I guess that shouldn’t be surprising to the average stats person given that winning teams in the EPL average just over five shots on goal with at least two goals scored.  In this case Palace got three goals.

On the other hand, with 519 passes offered, 460 which were complete, and 96 of those were completed in the Palace Defending Final Third, you’da thought Liverpool would end up with more shots taken and more shots on goal.

They didn’t.  What is even worse is they had five of those 12 shots come from prime locations and only one ended up on goal!

For me, this means reinforces two things:

  1. Time and open space has great value when considering the quality of shots taken, regardless of location, and
  2. Liverpool have yet to find a striker who can take shots and put them on goal.  I would expect Liverpool to be in the market to buy a top striker as soon as possible!

If you’re a betting person; here’s the latest CPWP Predictability Index.  This does not yet to into account the differences between team performance on the road versus at home.

It should be noted that teams playing at home, in the EPL, have taken 182 points – versus teams playing on the road have taken 143 points.

In terms of a ‘rough estimate’ that means 56% of all points earned are earned at home games.

Not much of an edge – but – if you’re a team like Crystal Palace, playing a team like Liverpool, who is clearly shaken – and not stirred – there will always be the chance of an upset!

CPWP Perdictability Index EPL Week 12

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp

 

Hammers hurdle forward and Villa vanquishes backwards

A tale of two teams!

The last time I dug into the English Premier League (Week 6) the League Table had Chelsea 1st (16 points), Southampton (13 points), followed by Man City (11 points), then Aston Villa, Swansea City, and Arsenal all tied for fifth on (10 points).

And here’s how the Composite PWP Index looked at that same time:

CPWP Strategic Index Week 6 EPL

Five of the six teams in league table were part of the top seven teams in the CPWP Index; note how far down the Index Aston Villa was; even on 10 points and tied for 5th place!

Was that an indicator that their early season run was more about luck than strong team attacking and defending across the entire pitch?

I’m not sure – but I’ll take a peak at both West Ham and Aston Villa, in a few, to give you a picture on how those teams performed in the first 6 weeks versus the last 5 weeks.

For now, fast forward to the end of Week 11 and here’s the lay of the land in the League Table:  Chelsea sit on 29 points; Southampton 25 points; Man City 21 points; West Ham 18 points; and Swansea City  18 points.

Moving up from 7 points after week 6 (tied for 13th) to 18 points was West Ham.

While Aston Villa took a complete nose dive (sorry Tom Hanks) to 16th with 11 points.

Here’s how the CPWP Index looks after Week 11:

CPWP STRATEGIC INDEX WEEK 11 EPL

In looking at the Index West Ham is 8th best, compared to 11th best five weeks ago.  

Southampton and Man City have both shifted past Chelsea (probably related to defending and not attacking) while Swansea has dropped below Man United, Arsenal, and Everton.

I won’t go into the details on those moves this week – even though I probably should given Swansea City just beat The Arsenal 2-1…

I’ll save that for later – just like the mystery about Southampton.

In regards to Aston Villa, they’ve not moved an inch in the Index – suppose one wouldn’t expect it seeing as they’ve only taken one point and it’s hard to drop lower than Burnley or QPR.

Nevertheless – be prepared – there is some grist coming up that may surprise you.

First Off – Attack – Aston Villa (weeks one through six, and weeks seven through 11):

Key Strategic Attacking Indicators Aston VillaObservations:

Clearly the amount of possession has increased (considerably) during these two phases – a 9% jump is considerable in my opinion.

Whether that is a result of the opponent or an internal tactical move is hard to determine at this stage but it should be noted there was a bump (increase) across the board in all the key PWP indicators with one exception – goals scored divided by shots on goal.

In looking at Major League Soccer for two years now the explanation usually goes along the lines of this.

1) The opponents decide to cede possession somewhat by playing deeper against the attacking side… both Portland Timbers and Philadelphia Union did that this year and both organizations substantiated (in one shape or another) that tactic.

To reinforce that position – their average total Attacking Final Third passes, per game, in games 1-6 were ~89; that number vaulted to 120, per game, between games 7-11.

Clearly the opponent looks to have taken a different approach in defending against Aston Villa – OR – Aston Villa has tried to step up penetration based upon overall possession; if Villa has attempted the later of the two I’d suggest they revisit their tactical attacking approach.

2) The trend for teams who don’t pass as accurately as the other teams in the league (Villa are in the lower half) seems to be that more possession sometimes includes more penetration and more shots taken, but that volume and percentage increase does not translate to goals given a somewhat higher potential for impatience.

When checking out West Ham there can be an economy of scale – but I think it’s probably more to do with the type and skill of the current players available as opposed to the normal course of events.

Aston Villa in Defending:

Key Strategic Defending Indicators Aston VillaThe change between both phases, in defending, almost seems to match the attacking pattern of West Ham, with two exceptions.

Overall opponent possession did drop, as did passing accuracy, but penetration increased, as did shots taken per penetration, shots on goal per shots taken and goals scored per shots on goal.

Pretty much indicating to me that the opponents worked hard to trap Aston Villa going forward, ceding possession in order to gain critical time and space in quick, purposeful counterattacks!

That may sound a bit early as an observation – but these same trends have shown themselves in the MLS for the last two years – and after awhile it does appear that generic patterns are showing through.

Next West Ham in Attack (weeks one through six, and weeks seven through 11):

Key Strategic Attacking Indicators West Ham

In this diagram there’s almost a direct contrast; where Aston Villa’s numbers pretty much increased across the board, with the exception of Goals Scored – it’s almost the opposite for West Ham.

For West Ham their passing accuracy decreased, possession remained the same, while penetration, and shots on goals versus shots taken decreased.

Only two increases, the percentage of shots taken per penetrating possession and goals scored.

When studying teams in MLS this year – a pattern like this seemed to indicate a team leaning towards a more direct attack in nature.

The primary indicator supporting that, given lower passing accuracy and lower shooting accuracy, is the percentage and volume increase in shots taken per penetration.

For some teams that percentage works better when lower – especially when they have a higher passing accuracy.

But in the case of West Ham, it is likely they are simply looking to take more shots, quicker, and with less penetration.  Working off the philosophy that more is better.

In La Liga we know that more was better, the same held true for the World Cup as well – so this approach may be Sam Allardyce’s way of getting more with less.

When looking at the two separate phases, West Ham averaged 15.20 shots taken per game in games 7-11 versus 13.33 in games 1-6.

In addition, in games 7-11 they averaged 106.4 passes within and into the final third, versus 121.5 in games 1-6.

The other interesting note is that as passing accuracy decreased so did the volume – again speaking to perhaps? harder/longer balls being played in order to move the ball quicker into the final third when the opportunity presented itself; below are the average volumes during these two phases to confirm that.

West Ham total passes attempted (446.83 = 1-6) and passes completed (300 = 1-6)

West Ham total passes attempted (411.80 = 7-11) and passes completed (262.80 = 7-11).

As seen between phases I and II the volume of passes attempted AND passes completed decreased.

In looking at the end results – the percentage of goals scored per shots on goal went up by 18%; that huge increase in percentage only equates to an overall increase in goals scored, per game, of 1.67 to 1.80.

Given that it would appear that the defensive performance has also improved during this stretch.  Here”s the info for West Ham:

Key Strategic Defending Indicators West HamWhat appears to me is the same thing type of pattern that I’ve seen with Portland Timbers and Philadelphia Union this year.

The defending tactics seem to indicate the opponent has been ceded time and space outside, and moving into, the defending final third a bit more.

In turn the percentages of penetrating possession and shots taken increase – but with reduced time and space (given a tighter/deeper line) the shots on goal and goals scored percentages have dropped.

When looking at the volume of opponent passes across the entire pitch, it was 446 total passes in the first phase with 363 completed; versus 411, with 262 completed, in the second phase.

Again, it appears the data supports West Ham ceding time and space a bit higher, or, the opponent attacking habits were different compared to the opponents faced in the first phase?

When looking at the volume of opponent passes within the defending final third, the average was 120 passes attempted and 78 completed  in the first phase and 126 passes attempted, with 80 completed, in the second phase.

Not that much of a difference – but in saying that the goals against in phase I was 1.67 per game, while in phase II it was .80 goals against.

All things considered, I’d offer that Allardyce has changed some tactical styles during the first 11 games.  Whether I’ve nailed the time period probably doesn’t matter – the more important thing for West Ham is that they’ve done something of value to increase goals scored and decrease goals against.

In the analyses I’ve done these past two years it would appear to me that the back four is playing a slightly deeper line and with that the attacking tactics are now sharper, and perhaps quicker.  All that going on with a draw to Stoke City and a win at home against Man City.

In Closing:

What may be troubling to the West Hammers is that their other games, in this five game stretch, included matches against Burnley and QPR; teams they should beat if a ‘should win’ is a reality in the English Premier League!

As for Aston Villa; their last five have included Man City, Everton, and Spurs, as well as QPR – a team (perhaps?) they shoulda beat???  and the draw with West Ham.

For all intents and purposes, it does appear that the PWP Key Strategic Indicators have pointed out some items of interest that may point to teams taking different tactical approaches.

The patterns seem to hold based upon what has been seen in MLS.

I wonder if those same patterns will begin to take shape in La Liga and the Bundesliga?

If so, kind of makes you consider that soccer, on both sides of the pond, is not that different at all – (perhaps???) it’s just what money gets spent to purchase top quality players and top quality managers???….

I.e. – if you spend enough money, in any league, it looks as if the tendencies of teams that don’t have higher quality players (spend the same amount of money) is to cede possession and play counter/more direct.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark.

You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp

English Premier League – Top Totties – Week 5 in Review

For most Manchester United, AGAIN, probably made most of the Headlines – and AGAIN – I’ll blow them off in my weekly update – kinda like Leicester City did! Imagine dropping four goals in the second half against Leicester City – can you Adam and Eve it???

What on earth is going on at Man United?

I’ll look at that later this week – maybe – for now the real credit on sustained team performance goes to three teams – Chelsea, Southampton and Aston Villa.

Granted Aston Villa took one on the chin against Arsenal – three goals all within the space of three minutes saw them drop three points – a trifecta of sorts – but not one that most would have bet on.

How they progress as the season continues is hard to tell – for now I won’t go into details on the Villa – did that last week here.

Since Villa got vanquished my two focus teams will be Chelsea and Southampton.

To help set the stage my usual link to Possession with Purpose is here; followed by my traditional look at the CPWP Strategic Index:

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

Arsenal are now top in CPWP – trifecta pesonified – great result for the Gunners coming off a not so great result against Borussia Bortmund in the Champions League.

So how about Chelsea and Southampton?

Well I watched the Chelsea match and to be honest I thought the draw was deserved for both teams – even as a Man City fan it was hard to argue, with some level of sanity, that Pablo Zabaleta didn’t deserve either Yellow Card issued by Mike Dean.

He did and with ten men the storybook ending nearly saw Frank Lampard net a brace in the closing minutes.  Pure class he is for not celebrating the equalizer – what a great addition and example of professionalism he will bring to Major League Soccer!

In the finer points of team performance we have APWP and DPWP – below is the APWP Index and then my breakout on some of the highlights where Chelsea and Southampton are performing better than others as they sit atop the table:

APWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

APWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

Clearly the obvious, Chelsea lead the league in APWP; more on why in a minute – first some general tendencies of the English Premier League after five weeks:

  • Teams that possess the ball more have a greater tendency of winning – at this stage teams that win average 10 more passes per game than teams who lose.
  • That same trend applies to passing accuracy too.
  • Where the trend differs between winners and losers comes in percentage of penetration based upon the volume of overall passing – winning teams  – with more completed passes as a whole – penetrate less often than losing teams with fewer completed passes as a whole.
  • What that means is winning teams (in general) appear to be more selective about penetrating.
  • And that appeared patience leads to more successful passes completed in the Final Third, as well as more Shots Taken, more Shots on Goal, and more Goals Scored – to the tune of almost 2 goals more per game.

Given those general tendencies how do Chelsea and Southampton attacking team performance indicators match up with the league averages?

  • Southampton and Chelsea both average greater than 50% possession and both teams average passing accuracy exceeds 82%; with Chelsea having the edge in completion percentage in the Attacking Final Third (77.18% to 69.06%).
  • With respect to penetration – here’s where the fork in the road appears and presents a great contrast.
  • Chelsea penetration per possessoin is nearly 30% (highest in EPL), while Southampton’s penetration rate is 23.11% (6th lowest) – Chelsea clearly penetrate more.
  • In terms of shots taken per penetrating possession the teams converge again – Southampton’s at 12.21% while Chelsea is at 13.36%.
  • To put that in context – the teams averaging lower percentages in these categories include Manchester United, Everton, Spurs, Manchester City, and Arsenal — it might be reasonable to offer that more patient teams in this league – when considering overall volume and accuracy recognize that less is sometimes more.
  • What is interesting is that both teams show different characteristics in their penetration but both have the same basic outputs when it comes to shots taken.
  • As for shots on goal – Southampton have the highest percentage of shots on goal per shots taken in the EPL (46.78%); while Chelsea sits 5th best  (38.57%).
  • The obnoxious statistic here is the average goals scored for Chelsea – 3.2 per game; Southampton sits with four others at 1.8 goals per game – intriguing is that of those teams with lower percentages in penetration per percentage of possession only Spurs has 1.40 goals per game or less.

A few other observations before moving on to DPWP:

  • Both teams have played Swansea City – in both games Southampton and Chelsea averaged 56% possession with passing accuracy exceeding 85%.
  • Chelsea penetration per possession, into the Attacking Final Third was ~41% – while Southampton’s was ~25% – Southampton defeated Swansea City 1-nil – while Chelsea defeated Swansea City 4-2.
  • If I have to offer a takeaway here it would be that – the increased percentage of penetrating possession by Chelsea had an impact/influence in their defense being out of position where Swansea City was able to score two goals.
  • The challenge for Chelsea this year may just be how good they are in outscoring their opponents…

DPWP Strategic Index:

DPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

DPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

Well…..  Southampton leads all in Defending team performance indicators; and there’s Chelsea near bottom – kind of reinforces that Chelsea are more about attack so far and what’s getting Southampton more points is their defensive output.

Now one thing I don’t do is count tackles, interceptions, clearances and the like because they can be interpreted two different ways – a greater volume of those statistics might indicate a great defender but it might also indicate a defender who is ‘attacked’ by the opponent on a more regular basis… hence my team approach to try and account for ‘what doesn’t happen on the pitch‘ as much as what does happen…

With that said – here’s some similarities and differences between Southampton, Chelsea, and the rest of the EPL:

  • Neither team dominates possession on their end like Arsenal (~65%) and neither team gets dominated like Crystal Palace (~34%) – as such both cede about 45-46% possession.
  • With respect to passing accuracy – opponents of Southampton are accurate (across the entire pitch) ~80% of the time while with Chelsea oppnents complete ~81% of their passes.
  • The difference begins to appear as penetration occurs – opponents for Southampton complete ~61% of their passes in the Southampton defending final third while opponents of Chelsea are slightly more accurate (~66%).
  • The greater accuracy (perhaps less marking upon entry – or a deeper line by Southampton) results in Chelsea opponents penetration at ~25% whereas Southampton opponents have a penetration of 18%.
  • That reduced penetration results in a reduced percentage of shots taken per penetration (11,68%) for Southampton, compared to Chelsea’s 18.85%.
  • Southampton are a tad higher (than Chelsea) for opponent shots on goal per shots taken (36.98%) to Chelsea’s (36.01%),
  • And where it matters the most – Southampton opponent’s only convert 18% of their shots on goal to goals scored – while Chelsea opponent’s convert ~37% of their shots on goal to goals scored.

And even when looking at the game both had against Swansea City…

  • Both teams faced roughly the same amount of passes (410 versus 393) – and we already know Chelsea ceded 2 goals against while Southampton had the clean sheet.
  • Bottom line here is that the defensive posture of Southampton (likely playing a bit deeper) means the opponent’s have less time and space within and around the 18 yard box.
  • Note: I have yet to watch Southampton play this year but similar patterns do appear when analyzing teams in Major League Soccer and those patterns, when watching those teams, do take the shape of a team playing slightly deeper.
  • I’d be interested to hear feedback from a devout Southampton follower.
  • Oh… and lest I forget – Goals Against – per game for Southampton is .60; for Chelsea it’s 1.4…

In Closing: 

These two teams don’t go head to head until December, 28 – quite a bit of time between now and then to see if Southampton (and yes) Chelsea are contenders or pretenders.

More to follow this week on the Bundesliga, La Liga, and then an update on Expected Wins (3)…

Best, Chris

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The Aston Villa Thrilla (1-nil) v Liverpool

Most of the Headlines went to Manchester United crushing a helpless Queens Park Rangers this past week and rightly so, I suppose, given how poorly Man U has played this last year or so.

Anything good happening to United usually spells trouble for others in the English Premier League.

For me though, I’m taking my analysis to the Aston Villa, 1-nil win, against Liverpool this week.

To begin, my traditional link on what Possession with Purpose is all about and then a link on my latest English Premier League (through Week 4 analysis) here:

With that let’s take a look at Aston Villa, two different ways – compared to the other teams in the EPL and dig a bit deeper, statistically (team performance wise), into their great start.

For starters; here’s my standard Composite PWP Strategic Index filtering out all games where a team has passed the ball less than 450 times (the EPL League average):

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 4 Less than 450 Passes

 

While not blazing saddles, by any stretch, the positive from this is that Aston Villa are on the giving end as opposed to receiving end.

In the four games played, Aston Villa have not once exceeded the 450 pass barrier – but in every game the opponent has.

So there is consistency of purpose with respect to the general attacking strategy given the expected higher volume of passes by the opponent; at least that’s what I would offer given Paul Lambert is a pretty switched on Coach.

In the four games Villa have played their highest percentage of possession was against Hull City – do many of us consider Hull City a passing team?

They had 55.78% of the possession when playing Villa.  Oddly enough that is the lowest amount of possession, by any opponent against Villa, this year – and Hull City have scored the only goal against Aston Villa this year!  Hmmm…

Anyhow, the lowest level of passing accuracy, by Villa, was against Liverpool (63.09%); the 1-nil thrilla; otherwise, all the other games have seen Villa meet or exceed 70% in passing accuracy.

Bottom line here, in attack, Aston Villa show frugal play and measured penetration; 7th best in the EPL (26.13%).

And they have been able to create and take shots that have at least a 21% chance of being on target – while also averaging 50% goals scored success based upon that volume of shots.

Very frugal and very productive… all round a solid team performance in attacking so far.

Now let’s take a look at this same Index for all teams who have passed the ball greater than 450 times this year:

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 4 Greater than 450 Passes

So with a frugal, but effective and efficient attack, how have they performed in defending against teams who pass as many as 200 times more, in a game, than Villa do?

Opponents so far have been Stoke City, Newcastle United, Hull City, and Liverpool.

As noted, those opponents are averaging over 450 passes per game – the actual average Villa have faced is 581 per game with a high of 743 passes, faced, in the game against Liverpool.

With respect to opponent penetration – Liverpool again was best in penetrating Villa’s Defending Final Third – nearly 36% of the total possession Liverpool had resulted in penetration of the Villa Final Third – that’s 12% greater than the overall average for every team in the EPL this year… my oh my…  Liverpool really was on the offensive this game!

Perhaps what really drives home the aggressive nature/execution of Liverpool this game was their 71% completion rate of passes within the Villa Final Third.  So not only were Liverpool frequent in their penetration – they were accurate as well.

Yet, when the scope narrowed, and the sphincter got tighter, Liverpool put just 1 of 18 shots on goal (5.56%) terrible; simply terrible.

So while Villa ceded possession and penetration (high passing accuracy penetration) they didn’t cede time and space that resulted in Liverpool getting more than one shot on goal…  I’d offer that’s a pretty effective zone defense.

In Closing:

Through either filter Aston Villa have done well.  It’s early days though, and this analysis probably has more value later this year when more data points are available to confirm/refute early prognostications.

For now I’d offer Paul Lambert is running a Counter-attacking / Direct attacking scheme – and to date, it’s been pretty effective  so far.

How long that success lasts is hard to tell; they play Arsenal next and it’s likely they will face as many as 800 passes in that game.

And so you know – Arsenal have not started out as slowly as Liverpool.

In looking ahead to that game…

Arsenal average 9.92% Shots Taken per penetrating possession while Liverpool average 14.72%.

And both average nearly the same amount of Shots on Goal percentage (33.01% to 33.61%) yet Arsenal convert that same percentage of Shots on Goal to Goals Scored 37.50% of the time while Liverpool only manages to convert those Shots on Goal to Goals Scored 25.63% of the time.

That’s a 12% difference in success rate for Goals Scored – as noted in all my research from Major League Soccer, patience, in creating time and space adds just as much, if not more value than the location on where the shot is taken…

Best, Chris

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English Premier League – Week 4 – Relegation battle begins…

I’ve no doubt many of the headlines on the English Premier League this week dig into Manchester United’s convincing win over Crystal Palace…   That’s probably appropriate for most but I, often times, like to write about the un-obvious.

So even though Angel Di Maria looked great – I’d offer he was a stud playing amongst English school boys…  perhaps something like Lionel Messi (Barcelona) playing Levante in La Liga???

Anyhow, well done to Man United – they finally won a game!

The exciting match, for me however, was the Aston Villa (1 – nil) thrilla at the Kop…

Who’da thought the Villans would be sitting where they are after four games?  Tom Hanks no doubt… 😉

Well, perhaps in hindsight (after week 10 or so) that run of 10 points, in these four games. might not be quite as much as it seems today.

Bollocks you say – we will see 🙂  A very tough match against Arsenal comes next on Sept 20th, 7 AM PST…

Anyhow, like the latest on the Bundesliga and La Liga, I’ll be taking a look at the early races taking shape on relegation; in particular the four bottom dwellers, and how they compare in the Possession with Purpose Family of Indices.

My analysis on the CPWP Strategic Index, filtered by passes, above and below the league average of 450, will follow in a blog a bit later this week.

For now the Composite (CPWP) Strategic Index through Week four:

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 4
Although taking a hit from Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge, Swansea City still shows pedigree in the CPWP Strategic Index.  Other teams doing well include Man City, Chelsea, and with a rather large move up the Index, Manchester United.

Hovering midtable in the Index, but gathering points, as noted, is Aston Villa – another sleeper (but maybe not) is Southampton.

How soon the have’s and have not’s split up, in this Index, is unclear but I’d expect Week 10 or so will begin to show a bit more clarity in who’s consistently performing well and who isn’t.

In terms of the late starters in the League Table there are four teams; Crystal Palace, Burnley, West Brom, and Newcastle; all sitting on two points.

For the remainder of this article I’ll concentrate some thoughts and observations about them and save some individual analysis on Aston Villa, and Southampton, for my new blog later this week.

Like the Bundesliga and La Liga CPWP Indices, the R2 for this Index, after Week 4, shows well – it’s .73…

Attacking (APWP) Strategic Index:

APWP Strategic Index EPL Week 4

Given the early season outburst from Chelsea is it any wonder they sit atop this Index – with an average Goals Scored of 3.75 would you really expect my Index not to reflect that amount of fire power?

So how about those teams who’ve started with just two points each in the first four games?

  1. Crystal Palace – 7th worst in APWP – the telling statistics on this side of the pitch are two things; possession percentage average is 36.69% (3rd worst) and their goals scored per shots on goal is 29.46% (9th worst).  What is interesting here is that Southampton sit below Crystal Palace in that statistic (29.17%) but their overall possession percentage is 52.91%.  That significant difference in the amount of possession spells the biggest reason why Crystal Palace sits where they sit.  In other words the statistics are indicating that if Crystal Palace can retain more possession of the ball they should, by all counts, increase their goal scoring output.
  2. Burnley – 2nd worst in APWP – the telling statistics here are also two things: shots taken, per penetrating possession, is 7th lowest and their goals scored, per shots on goal, is 3rd worst (12.50%).  The striking contrast here is that the other teams who show patience in taking shots, per penetration, (lower averages than Burnley) are Man City (9.18%), Arsenal (9.92%), Man United (10.09%), Spurs (11.1%), Everton (11.13%), and Southampton (12.9%).  What this clearly indicates is that the, higher scoring, possession based teams are behaving exactly like some of the higher scoring teams in MLS – they are showing patience in shot selection compared to penetration.  With Burnley clearly not a possession based team (43.61%)are they trying to show (patience – perhaps???) where in fact they might produce better results if they simply increase their shot volume per penetration?  In other words, with just a glimmer of time and space, as opposed to more acres of time and space, they need to shoot more often???
  3. West Brom – 3rd worst in APWP – pretty simple to offer up analysis here – they are 4th worst in putting shots on goal, per shots taken, and they are 2nd worst in scoring goals, based upon their volume of shots on goal… Perhaps they need a better striker or two???
  4. Newcastle – 6th worst in APWP – two things here as well – perhaps??? The most striking observation here, for me, is that Newcastle average 55.7% possession (6th best in the EPL) but when converting that overall possession, to penetration into the opponents defending final third, they are third worst at 21.13%.  And that final clarity in gaining penetration also finds itself influencing goals scored – they are 4th worst in goals scored.  Perhaps they need a couple of better midfielders???

Moving on to Defending (DPWP) Strategic Index:

DPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 4

Manchester United have moved up top here and clearly, Aston Villa, with that HUGE clean sheet at the Kop, have kept themselves in good stead as well.

In looking at the four bottom dwellers – here’s there positional standing and some key observations too:

  1. Crystal Palace – 2nd bottom of the DPWP – two things here.  Their average opponent possession is 63.31% (3rd worst) and they are also 3rd worst (28.78%) in conceding penetration.  Now that might not be a bad thing when working towards a successful counter-attacking approach but they are 9th worst in seeing their opponents put shots taken on goal and 8th worst (36.46%) in seeing those shots on goal get converted to goals scored.  The contrast here is Aston Villa; they actually cede more possession (64.39%) than Crystal Palace, but they have the 2nd best defense in limiting opponent shots taken, being on goal, and the best defense in preventing those shots on goal from being goals scored.  Perhaps Crystal Palace need better midfielders and defenders, as well as a better Goal Keeper?  In other words a whole new defense or a completely different defensive scheme???
  2. Burnley – 7th best in DPWP – this Index rating might actually be an early indicator that the Burnley record isn’t quite reflecting how well this team is playing.  Granted goal scoring is critical – but for most – a strong defense usually sees a team through when fighting relegation.  With them being 7th best the only thing that stands out to me is the amount of possession they’ve conceded – opponents average 56.39%.  In seeing that, they’ve already played Chelsea, Man United, and Swansea City, a hard slog to be sure.  Overall, I’d offer, if they keep their confidence, they should continue to move forward at a better pace than some other bottom dwellers like Cyrstal Palace.
  3. West Brom – 3rd worst in DPWP – interesting here is that they are 2nd best in limiting opponent penetration into the final third (just 19.04%) but even with that minimal penetration they are 8th worst in conceding shots taken, that are shots on goal, and 4th worst (48.21%) in seeing those opponent shots on goal hit the back of the net.  Seems like their defensive approach within the 18 yard box leaves quite a lot to be desired…  A team that is successful in clogging the choke point into the final third probably should do better as the amount of defending space naturally gets smaller inside the 18 yard box.  Is it too early to say they might need two better centerbacks and a better goal keeper?
  4. Newcastle – 10th in DPWP – midtable of the Index and some are no doubt scratching their heads on why Newcastle finds itself at bottom of league table.  For starters their opponents average just 44.30% possession, and their opponents really don’t penetrate that much compared to some other teams (7th lowest – 21.9%).  It appears what is happening is that, even with small amounts of possession and penetration, the opponents are taking a higher volume of shots per penetration; resulting in the 2nd worst percentage of shots on goal, per shots taken, (43.64%) and the 9th worst, goals scored, per shots on goal.  Put another way the positional defending, inside and around the 18 yard box (appears??) weak.  Perhaps they give their opponents too much time and too much space as they transition in positional defending after the opponent penetrates???

In closing:

All told, it’s clearly early days but I think patterns are already beginning to develop.

To be honest I’m quite jazzed to be offering up PWP analysis on the EPL – I do wish Blackburn were still in it – and perhaps even Leeds United!  More teams from the north!

Anyhow – two sides of the table to review and next week I’ll take a closer look at the top end…

Best, Chris

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