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:
- 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.
- In looking at the bottom end of the Table the bottom four teams in the Index match exactly the bottom four in the Table.
- I doubt very much the level of accuracy will match the League Table that well throughout the year.
- 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?
- 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…
- 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?
- 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):
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- In terms of early form, relative to the six team performance indicators, Chelsea are tops with Everton, Arsenal, and Man City close behind.
- 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…
- 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):
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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:
My presentation at the World Conference on Science and Soccer
New Statistics (Open Shots and Open Passes)
Thanks in advance for your patience.
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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:
- Eight of Ten
- Seven of Ten
- Eight of Ten
- Eight of Ten
- 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.
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I didn’t watch the entire game against West Bromwich Albion today but I did get to see the critical part – the build up to Mirallas missing the Penalty Kick.
I’m not sure what a good definition of a teammate is but I’m pretty sure what he showed, in that game, is what a good teammate isn’t! And it’s on the pitch behavior like that – that never, ever, finds itself in any of the individual statistics folks normally track.
Now I’m not going to go on record that the PWP Family of Indices will directly account for an event like that – but when looking at the tenor of Everton, throughout the course of this year, something just isn’t working… and maybe that behavior is an indicator of some sorts?
However viewed here’s how the CPWP Strategic Index looks through Week 22:
So what isn’t working for Everton that is for some other teams in the top half of the table?
First off – Attacking:
They are a possession-based team – averaging 57.47% Possession per game, with a Passing Accuracy pedigree of 86.65%.
That is 3rd highest in the Barcley’s Premier League in Possession and best overall in Passing Accuracy.
So if they are tops in those two categories it seems reasonable that they’d be up somewhere near the top of the League Table instead of wallowing in 12th place; leading me to this question…
What is Everton not doing that Chelsea, Man City, Man United, Arsenal and Southampton are doing?
When comparing just those five teams Everton is middle of the pack in overall Penetration (26%) compared to 30% for Chelsea, Man City, and Arsenal and 23/24% for Southampton and Man United…
They are creating Shots per Penetration at the rate of 12%, compared to 12% for Man City, Man United, Chelsea, and Arsenal while Southampton sits at 14%
For Shots on Goal per Shots Taken they sit at 34%, Man City has 33%, while Southampton, Arsenal have 35%, Man United his 36% and Chelsea has 39%.
When it comes to Goals Scored per Shots on Goal Everton are lowest again at 33% while Arsenal are 36%, Southampton is 38%, Man United is 39%, Man City is 40%, and Chelsea is 44%.
Pretty tight – as the Index shows – their percentages are on par with the top teams… So that’s a look at Quality – what about Quantity?
Total Passes: Only Southampton has fewer passes, on average, at 467 – Everton averages 514 while the rest fall in higher with Man City the highest at 589 per game.
Total Passes Final Third: Man United and Southampton fall below Everton while Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea all average more.
Shots Taken: Everton, Man United, and Southampton all average ~13 per game while Arsenal and Chelsea average ~16 and Man City 17 per game.
Shots on Goal: Everton are lowest at 4.32 with Man United next at 4.36, followed by Southampton at 4.4.5, Man City 5.50, Arsenal 5.55, and Chelsea at 6.00 per game.
Goals Scored: Everton are lowest at 1.36, followed by Man United 1.64, Southampton 1.68, Arsenal 1.77, Man City 2.05, and Chelsea 2.32…
From an attacking viewpoint I’d offer ‘what’s not working’ is down to a few things – those who follow Everton more closely could probably narrow it down to 3-4 players…
Lack of creativity in generating more open time and space in order to have roughly the same volume of shots generate more shots on goal – and therefore more goals scored…. or,
Lack of finishing by their strikers – meaning the time and space is available – it’s just not being used effectively.
After today’s game it would appear the selection of who took the Penalty Kick is more down to using the players on the team effectively…
But Attacking is just one half of the game – what about Defending?
I’ll stick with the same six teams….
Opponent Possession: If they are in the top four of Possession then their Opponent’s are in the bottom four.
Opponent Passing Accuracy: Middle of the pack – opponent’s for Chelsea average 80% while most everyone else sees their opponent’s average about 77/78% Passing Accuracy.
Opponent Penetration: Everton allow the greatest percentage of penetration at 28%; while the rest fall in at ~24% or lower.
Opponent Shots Taken per Penetration: Everton fall in the middle of the pack at 15% with Arsenal and Man City, while Southampton is lower (11%) and Man United, along with Chelsea are higher at 16% and 17% respectively.
Shots on Goal per Shots Taken: Everton opponents are lowest at 25.67% while everyone falls in at 26%-38%.
Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal: Everton sit worst at 43% while the rest all come in at 31% or lower.
In looking at volume:
Opponent Passes Attempted: Everton are second lowest at 376 per game; Man United are lowest at 368 while Southampton are highest at 435 per game.
Opponent Passes Attempted Final Third: Everton are 2nd highest at 126 per game with Southampton being the highest at 129 per game, all the rest fall in between 123 and 103 per game.
Opponent Shots Taken: Everton are highest at 13 per game while the rest all have opponent’s averaging 11 per game or lower.
Opponent Shots on Goal: Everton are mid-table at 3.41 while Man United and Arsenal are slightly higher and the others lower, with Southampton lowest at 2.64 per game.
Opponent Goals Scored: Everton are highest at 1.55 per game while Arsenal is 2nd worst at 1.14, followed by Man City at 1.00, Man United .95, Chelsea .86 and Southampton .73
In considering the opponent’s successes versus Everton team defending:
Everton cede the greatest amount of Penetration while facing just the second lowest volume of Opponent Passes.
Everton opponent’s have the worst overall accuracy putting Shots Taken on Goal but the highest volume of Shots Taken and the highest volume of Goals Against.
So even with a high amount of possession – it’s more like Possession without Purpose as opposed to Possession with Purpose; especially when viewing them against like teams in overall Possession and Passing Accuracy.
Those who follow Everton more closely can probably tag two or three players that have a larger influence in this poor defending team performance.
For me I’d tag the lack of support in midfielders getting back to support the defenders, fullbacks being to far up the pitch when possession is lost, lack of superb central defending and perhaps a keeper past his prime? (Many Americans might not like that – but their Goals Against IS an issue).
Of course, teams are getting pretty good at bunkering in, at least teams like West Brom are – and with more games played, plus Tony Pullis leading the charge it’s no wonder West Brom shut down Everton.
In watching the later stages of that game today it was almost comical on how well West Brom simply stymied the Everton attack…
I call it the umbrella defense – everyone get beneath the raining terror of multiple passes outside the box and simply clog the lanes everywhere.
If there are minimal players on the team who can create space, through superb vision or subtle touches, a team will find it very difficult to score against that type of defending; it’s ugly but effective at times…
For now I would offer that there are weaknesses in the tactical defensive approach and the personnel trying to work the attacking scheme Martinez wants. And I don’t think signing a new striker solves their issues.
Martinez has pedigree and perhaps there are some upcoming tactical changes to try to reduce Goals Against and increase Goals Scored.
I’ve seen it work (statistically) where teams drop deeper in defending, thus driving up the opponent’s possession numbers both inside and outside the attacking final third. That increase in opponent possession and penetration then opens up some time and space for a team on the counter-attack.
The critical piece to that approach is having players with great passing skills – and given Everton has the most accurate team in passing they should be able to handle that defensive change.
Maybe that is something to look for with Everton over the next few weeks???
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You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp
For most, the stunning team this year continues to be Southampton – worthy view as the Saints continue to march towards Europe.
I’m not on their bandwagon yet as nearly half the season remains – but if they keep up their team performances, as they have the first 21 games, it is likely they squeeze out either Man United or The Arsenal…
Wouldn’t that shake up things up a wee bit?
As for now, here’s my CPWP Index and how the teams compare, in overall performance without using points, after Week 21:
There appears to be a four tiered level of performance so far – with Man City and Chelsea at the top; Man United, Southampton, and Arsenal next – followed by Everton, Liverpool, and Swansea – while West Ham and Spurs continue to stay in the race.
Even here Southampton are near the top – it’s no fluke they are where they are in the League Table.
As for West Ham and Spurs – those two London sides, along with The Arsenal need to pick things up a bit or they may be stuck in Europa League next year. Somehow for The Arsenal I don’t think that’s a goal… Allardyce and Pochettino —> maybe?
But Wenger, no – it would likely lead to many dissenting voices and the unwise move of sacking him. Personally I think he’s one of the best Head Coaches, ever, in Soccer…
So you know – since Pardew was sacked by Newcastle, prior to Game 21, I will be able to do a compare and contrast later this season – especially since he’s now coaching Crystal Palace… I wonder how those two teams will look at the end of the season?
I’ll also poke around West Brom too; now that Pullis is in charge.
Correlation – R2 = .92; continues to remain relevant and strong.
Attacking PWP Index:
Defending PWP Index:
The two teams at the top of the table are the two teams at the top of both the APWP and DPWP Index.
If I were a betting man I’d bet Newcastle brings in some defensive support rather quickly – if they don’t perhaps they fall as far down as the relegation zone?
Liverpool clearly need more support up top – they lack goal scoring and there is the Capt. Obvious that Suarez is missed – clearly Balo-telly is lacking.
West Ham continues to punch way above its weight – can they sustain that approach?
I’d imagine Allardyce will be shopping for another defender to two to strengthen his bench for a sprint run to the finish…
I’d also imagine Spurs will look to do the same thing – they are surviving because Kane scores goals – but as seen this last weekend – they are also taking it in the shorts because they can’t prevent goals against.
Giving away two goals to Crystal Palace is shameful…
Wow – might DeAndre Yedlin get a look in soon? He had 60 minutes with the youngsters the other day but may need another few weeks to get adjusted; time will tell.
CPWP Predictability Index:
I include this for others more than myself.
In a trial run for the MLS, going strictly with this Predictability Index, I varied from 35-70% accurate (week to week) on picking the winning team based upon the “home and away PWP Predictability Index”.
But since home teams won 155 times in MLS, as opposed to losing just 77 times, it’s a good bet the home team wins or draws every single game regardless of any predictability model. For more details on that information read here: The Comforts of Home in MLS.
I make no case that this IS a solid betting tool but many bet on soccer and the usual predictability products vary in accuracy with a reasonable model offering up 30% accuracy.
I’d be more inclined to offer that this model is probably more accurate for some teams as opposed to other teams – my research continues to indicate that some basic statistics for some teams have little to no relationship on what some basic statistics are for other teams…
In other words, one team may show a reasonable (game to game) correlation between possession and winning while another team may not.
A good example – Stoke City averages roughly 48% possession – their game to game correlation of possession to points earned is (R2) -.52 – meaning — over the course of this season so far Stoke City are more likely to earn points if a particular games’ possession is less than their average.
On the other hand a team like Chelsea – who averages ~58% possession has an (R2) correlation of .13…. meaning their is simply NO RELATIONSHIP between possession percentage and taking points in the league table – they can pretty much take points by either falling above or below their league average of 58%.
I will be doing a new article on Possession in the very near future – it’s an intriguing statistic that is abused in a big way – an aggregate R2 of .77, for a league, does not mean Possession is the overwhelmingly best indicator for team success.
But it does mean it’s a good indicator that one system of football is consistently being used to garner more points earned then another system of football… that would be ‘possession-based’ versus ‘direct-attack-based’…
It’s the winter break for me just like it is the teams – plenty going on to include co-hosting a podcast with Stephen Brandt (@Yellowcardedpod).
Our upcoming guests, in the next two months, include Commissioner Peterson from the North American Soccer League, Jamie Clark, Head Coach for the University of Washington, John Galas, Head Coach Lane United FC (USL PDL), and someone from the Portland Timbers organization – to be determined.
A new article, to be published by @7amkickoff, will speak specifically to how The Arsenal is performing in some key (game to game) areas. This is hopefully the first of many articles where my PWP approach will be leveraged by other highly respected writers…
To set the stage for future articles leveraging PWP @7amkickoff provides his introduction to this approach as well as a great synopsis other Soccer statistics in general, to include Total Shots Ratio, published by Grantland, and Michael Caley’s discussion on Expected Goals.
So if you’re a writer, with an interest in leveraging my analytical approach, as part of the overall product you provide your readers let me know how I can help with that.
COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved. PWP – Trademark
You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp
The headline is Capt. Obvious; especially when the League Table sees both these teams beginning to separate themselves from the others.
The question for most is who qualifies for Europe in positions three and four while Man City and Chelsea go toe-to-toe for the League Championship.
Too early you say? Not for me.
By Week 19, the Composite Possession with Purpose Index, in Major League Soccer had already nailed the League Champion, LA Galaxy, as being best in overall team attacking and defending performance.
Of course that didn’t translate to the Supporter’s Shield winner, but, then again, Major League Soccer doesn’t have an equal schedule, so the only real measurement to go by is the Champion crowned after the Playoffs are finished.
With that said, there were some teams who did move up and down in the CPWP Index (and MLS League Tables) after the halfway point. So I suppose it’s possible Man United, Arsenal, or someone else could close the gap, and make it a three horse race?!?
In moving on though I’m not seeing that – at least not yet. Why? Well given my CPWP Index after Week 17, just below, it seems pretty clear both Man City and Chelsea are performing much better than the others:
Given that my main focus today is sorting out the picture for the two remaining spots for next years UEFA Champions League.
I’ll call them my Bubble Teams (lacks creativity most likely, but hey… it’s late).
I see five with a chance.
Manchester United, Arsenal, Southampton (really?), West Ham (really?), and Spurs (really?).
At this stage, all five of these teams are within five points of each other at near the half-way point.
Others like Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle, and Swansea aren’t shut out (yet)… but I sense those teams probably need more than one player to give them that edge and Everton blew their chance this weekend in getting thumped 3-nil by Southampton…
As for Liverpool – they need more than a striker in my opinion (they need another defender too) and I just don’t think they have the money to upgrade.
Brendan Rogers can go on all he wants about his team getting their form back – but in my view – he’s giving lip service to save face after that debacle in signing Balotelli.
So with that said – three new diagrams for your consideration; the first being the Game to Game CPWP Index outputs for the five teams under consideration:
The diagram itself – you’ll probably be seeing more of these (with just one or two teams more likely in the future). You can click to enlarge.
The line graphs – most should know by now the CPWP Index is the difference between the Attacking PWP Index and Defending PWP Index. As is always the case with the CPWP Index – Higher is Better.
Note the frequency of change from game to game in some cases. To get a better understanding of how much variation there is for each team, week to week, I calculated the Standard Deviation.
Those numbers are provided at the bottom – in this case the lower the number the better. In other words the lower the number the less deviation a team had, from week to week, in how they performed (in total).
I’ll not offer that Lower = Better Team; at least not yet – but in this case I am going to assume that lower means more consistency. Sometimes being more consistent doesn’t mean better. Chivas USA were one of the most consistent teams last year – sadly that consistency was centered around consistently losing…
With that being the case; West Ham is most consistent (.36) with Spurs next (.52), than Man United (.54), followed by The Arsenal (.58) – then Southampton (.67).
Next up the Attacking PWP Index for my Amber Bubble Bar Teams – I suppose that is a goofy name – I’ll change it next week… suggestions are welcomed!
It’s interesting to note that all five of the teams here are pretty much even at this stage – trending up is Southampton (after that lull for three weeks) while Man United seems to be taking a bit of a dip.
From a consistency standpoint – West Ham again lead the pack here (.24) while Arsenal sits at (.29), Spurs at (.31), followed by Man United (.34) and Southampton, again the least consistent, sitting at (.40). Again – lower is better…
With APWP – I tend to believe that consistency in attacking is a good thing; especially given that rotation of home and away games – for me that shows a team is comfortable in how it attacks.
But…. the drawback here is that consistency in attack also sometimes means a lack of vision in changing things up a bit to play less predictable.
A great example of that this past weekend was The Arsenal going into Liverpool and almost taking three points while playing to an attacking style most would normally attribute to Sam Allardyce…
Moving on to the Defending PWP Index:
In the case of the DPWP Index – Lower is Better; to remind those – this number is the Attacking PWP number of the Opponent as they attack you – if higher is better when you attack – then it stands to reason a good defending team performance means a lower number.
After Week 17 it would appear all but The Arsenal are near each other – that two goals conceded against Liverpool no doubt had influence.
With respect to consistency West Ham (AGAIN) lead the pack in being most consistent (.27); with Spurs next (.37), followed by Man United and The Arsenal tied at (.41) and last (AGAIN) Southampton at .47.
For me, consistency here is good, very good, provided points are being earned in the League Table.
By the way – it’s this deviation or consistency that I also look for in viewing Home and Away games to see if a team changes it’s style.
For example the Standard Deviation for West Ham in Away games is .18 while for Arsenal it’s .42 – indicating that Wenger will change their tactical approach depending upon their opponent while Allardyce won’t.
Since all five of these teams are within five points – it seems reasonable that all these teams are getting points.
So what, in the end, are my thoughts after taking this info in?
Before offering that here’s my traditional Indices starting with the APWP Index:
Spurs are consistent in attack – but not consistent in being strong.
Southampton are not consistent in attack – and they are dropping back further and further compared to about 5 weeks ago.
Man United and Arsenal remain dangerous in attack – and remain consistently dangerous as well.
West Ham continues to remain high up this Index – a challenge to be sure – but what bodes well is they are also consistent in that attacking performance.
Now the Defending PWP Index through Week 17:
A few observations…
While Southampton is not very consistent in team defending – at least for now they are not very consistent in a good way – what happens if that inconsistency begins to swing towards the opponent performing better? A likely slide I’d expect.
West Ham are not only consistent – they remain consistently good – again can that pattern hold?
The Arsenal and Man United remain near the best in team defending performance – quite an achievement given the new approach in Manchester and the injuries in London…
Like in APWP, Spurs lack in overall performance compared to many teams lower in the league table. The real test comes when they entertain Man United and Chelsea at White Hart Lane, on short rest, just after Christmas.
I think all of these teams will be in the mood to shop for a player, two, or three come January.
Who do I think each team looks to add – from an individual, player standpoint, I haven’t got a clue…
But from a team standpoint here’s my initial expectations:
West Ham looks to add another midfielder and another defender – they are solid and the Allardyce style is working – but do they have the legs to compete the entire season? I don’t think so – at least not without at least one more defensive thinking/positioning type player given the Allardyce style of football.
Man United looks to add a defender – most probably a center-back who can handle playing 3 or 4 at the back. But can they afford to? Lots of money spent already but I’d expect at least one new signing during the transfer window.
Southampton looks to add some more firepower by adding an attacking winger and/or striker – goals will need to be scored to keep them afloat if their defending remains inconsistent. I also think they could do with another defender if they really are intent on making a run for Europe.
Spurs – hmmm… tough one here – I could see them adding a defender (maybe two?), and a midfielder/forward – they have points in the league table but their team attacking and defending performance lags far behind many other teams with fewer points.
Arsenal – I’ve already opined I think Arsenal need a new Central Defending Midfielder – I also think they need another Center-back and perhaps some more depth at Fullback.
Finally, I will take another look at the bubble teams in about 3 weeks time – there are plenty of games this holiday season and at least a nine point swing could occur.
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The greatest professional team soccer competition continues…
But before digging into the Possession with Purpose Family of Indices some general news for consideration.
As the PWP Indices have shown such a strong correlation/relationship to the league tables without using points earned, in ALL competitions measured, I want to try a create a quantifiable way to measure “luck”. More to follow…
Anyhow, here’s my updated Strategic Composite PWP Index after the Group Stages are completed:
This way others can get an idea of how their team CPWP, APWP, and DPWP Indices compare.
I won’t go so far as to say that the team expected to win has their color first but I would offer it may give you an inkling of who might be favored to advance.
Finally, the red bars represent those teams that did not move on to the knock-out stages.
The knock-out stage pairings:
Barcelona play Manchester City.
FC Porto play FC Basel.
FC Bayern Munchen play Shakter Donetsk.
Real Madrid play FC Schalke.
Chelsea play Paris Saint Germain.
Borussia Dortmund play Juventus.
Atletico Madrid play Bayer Leverkusen.
Monaco play Arsenal.
So here is how the teams compare in the Strategic Attacking Index:
A few observations…
I’m a firm believer that Defense wins Championships – but I’m also not willing to ignore how effective team attacking performance is in relationship to team defending.
With Barcelona, Bayern, Porto, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Real Madrid being slightly head-and-shoulders above the rest, in attack, it’s likely those teams will put on a great performance.
All told I’d offer those teams will work towards a possession based attack – especially seeing their opponents. I’d also offer up that Juventus is likely to work towards that style as well.
Teams like Schalke, Dortmund, Donetsk, Leverkusen, Man City, and PSG can show willingness to possess the ball but I think they will cede somewhat more this stage than in the Group Stages.
Teams like Atletico Madrid, FC Basel, and Monaco are )highly) likely to continue to cede possession and play for a swift counter-attacking (almost direct attacking) style of soccer.
Now for the Strategic Defending PWP Index:
FC Porto have been best, with Bayern, Monaco, Dortmund, Real Madrid, and Barcelona not far behind…
If there is an anticipated blow-out I’d offer Real Madrid is the team most likely to win big – with Porto next up against Basel and Atletico Madrid handling Bayer pretty easily.
As for the others – way too close to call in my opinion – and I’d imagine a huge audience on telly for the Man City/Barcelona match-up – and you can be sure I’ll be watching The Arsenal take on Monaco!
As I noted going into this competition – all these teams are good – what follows as pucker time nears – is the separation of good from great…
If you want a taste on my approach in measuring luck – consider this – Athletic Club had just seven points earned yet they were 7th best in team defending performance and 13th best in the overall Composite Index performance… if any team was unlucky, in the Group Stages, it was Athletic Club.
On the flip side – if any team was lucky, in the Group Stages, it was FC Basel (who also had just seven points earned) – they were 16th best in team defending performance, 22nd best in team attacking performance, and 20th best in overall Composite Index performance.
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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:
- Chelsea, 32 Points
- Southampton, 26 Points
- Man City, 24 Points
- Man United, 19 Points
- Newcastle, 19 Points
- West Ham, 18 Points
- Swansea City, 18 Points
- QPR, 8 Points
- Burnley, 10 Points
- Leicester City, 10 Points
- Hull City, 11 Points
- Aston Villa, 12 Points
- Crystal Palace, 12 Points
Now for my Composite PWP Strategic Index:
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.
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:
In 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:
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.
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:
- Time and open space has great value when considering the quality of shots taken, regardless of location, and
- 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!
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FC Bayern Munchen and Borussia Dortmund take a big leap in working towards the knockout stages as each sit on six points, along with Real Madrid.
Others falling in line for a push into the knockout stages include Roma, Chelsea, Monaco, Paris Saint Germain (stunner that was), Zenit St. Petersburg and FC Porto.
In seeing those results here’s how the Possession with Purpose Strategic Composite Index (CPWP) shows:
Of the teams with six points – all three fall within the top five of the Index, For those on four points, each, only Paris Saint Germain falls in the negative end of the Index.
Clearly the statistical impact of playing Barcelona is painful – and the orange star above Nicosia also highlights how far down the Index they are after that 6-1 thumping in Game 1. Yet now they’ve won their second game and sit on three points…
From a statistical standpoint the CPWP Index, correlation to average points earned, (R2) is .69 – very reasonable given only two games worth of data.
Oddly enough; and this doesn’t happen very much – the DPWP Index R2 (-.60) was slightly stronger than Goals Against (-.53); normally it’s about 5 one-hundreth’s of a point lower.
The Goal Differential R2 is .76; still the single best indicator that reflects results but doesn’t tell you anything about the internal activities of the game like the PWP Family of Indices.
Moving on – Defending PWP first:
Like the other DPWP Indices for the other leagues I analyze – I’ve adjusted the Y axis to begin at 1.5, as opposed to 0, in order to magnify the differences between those teams that don’t perform well versus those teams that do.
Note both Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Munchen are 1 -2 in the DPWP Index – while Real Madrid are 11th best – is that an early indicator that Real’s attack (see below) isn’t going to get them past a much tighter defensive network offered by the two German clubs?
As for other observations – I’d say it’s pretty clear that Benfica, Ludogorets, and CSKA Moscow are toast – all three are 7th worst or worse in team defending… nevermind they all sit on nil-pwa.
Moving on to the APWP Index, with some additional diagrams to sweeten the observations:
As noted above, Real Madrid are much better in team performance for attacking versus defending – for the most part teams that defend better advance further in competitions like these. I’d imagine Real will need to play a whole lot tighter if they are to succeed.
And what about Barcelona?
Wow – it’s unlikely they don’t advance but it should be an electrifying wake up call that possession for the sake of possession is not going to cut it in the Champions League this year.
This league is a far cry more skilled than La Liga – a reminder on how Barcelona looks in overall CPWP for La Liga is below… you’re not in Kansas anymore Toto!
Okay – now a few extra diagrams for your consideration:
First off – here’s what the APWP looks like when you filter the teams based upon the volume of passes attempted in the Opponent’s Final Third; in this diagram here’s the teams who have exceeded (the average) of 132 passes attempted.
Those teams with red bars are those that sit on zero or one point; those with yellow bars are teams sitting on two or three points, while those with green bars have four or six points.
Of course it’s unlikely that Barcelona doesn’t advance – but the same can’t be said for Arsenal.
In this diagram Arsenal are 2nd best in APWP – when looking at the diagram for Final Third passes attempted below 132 note where Arsenal is -(last in APWP).
Clearly they perform much better when they attempt to penetrate more – that style of play where more is more in the EPL seems to translate to Arsenal doing better here too.
Whether that holds true for all teams in the Group stages is unclear – I’m sure we’ll see soon enough.
Before moving on; note that there are seven teams in this diagram who exceed 132 passes in at least one game – while four teams sit on one or zero points.
That’s not the case here where the APWP Index is filtered based upon teams/games where passes attempted in the Final Third fall below the average:
Only four teams here have four or six points – actually all four of them sit on four points.
I don’t know (yet) if this is more or less impacted by how the opponent dictates play – nor do I know if this is more or less impacted by how the attacking team dictates play… More to follow on that one.
Note the high volume of teams with red bars in the lower end of APWP when pass attempts in the Final Third fall below 132 – the lone wolf at the bottom end is Arsenal – kind of reaffirming the need for them to sustain a high passing volume game in order to maximize their team attacking talents.
All for now – only two games in and detailed statistical analysis really isn’t worthy at this time – for the most part it is what it is…
The teams not best suited to do well in this competition are beginning to appear – Game three begins 21 October – should be exciting and the special match-ups I see might not be yours.
Here’s the ones that intrigue me given the state of affairs today:
- Roma at home to FC Bayern Munchen
- Barcelolna at home to Ajax
- FC Schalke at home to Sporting Lisbon
- BATE Borisov at home to Shaktar Donetsk
- FC Porto at home to Athletic Club
- Atletico de Madrid at home to Malmo FF
- Liverpool at home to Real Madrid
- Beyer Leverkusen at home to Zenit St Petersburg
Exactly – that’s almost all the games – well you’re right 😉
Looking forward to that round and any upsets that might occur like Paris Saint Germain beating Barcelona 3-2.
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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:
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:
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:
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…
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)…
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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:
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:
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?
- 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.
- 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???
- 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???
- 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:
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:
- 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???
- 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.
- 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?
- 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???
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…
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