Tagged: Manchester United

English Premier League – Mid-table Maidens or Muppets?

Like the La Liga article this week I’ll be taking a look at some mid-table maidens and muppets.

And yes, I’m breaking down this week and offering up some analysis on Manchester United.

I’ve delayed long enough I guess so I’ll take a peak at them along with Tottenham, Crystal Palace, West Brom, Stoke City, and Leicester City; all of them on eight points each working from 7th to 12th in the league table.

As usual – to start things my Possession with Purpose Composite PWP Strategic Index through Week 6:

CPWP Strategic Index Week 6 EPL

In picking out those six teams Man United lead in CPWP (5th best); followed by Spurs (9th), Stoke (10th), Leicester City (13th), West Brom (14th), and Crystal Palace (16th); not bunched up like in the league table.

Perhaps there might be some telling team performance indicators in APWP or DPWP that really separate these teams?

The best way to start is to peel back all these teams in APWP:

APWP Strategic Index Week 6 EPL

The obvious – Man United rest 5th best, Leicester City, perhaps a surprise at 9th best (lest we forget that smashing pumpkin they delivered at Man United’s door two weeks ago), Spurs 11th best (or 10th worst), Crystal Palace 13th best, Stoke 15th best and West Brom 4th worst.

Now for the grist…
Key Strategic Attacking PWP Indicators Week 6

Here’s the six teams in focus plus two balancing agents – Chelsea and Burnley – the top and bottom of the EPL heap…

I could spend the better part of 800 words going over what’s offered here – I’d prefer not to and just point out a few bits and pieces before another diagram on Attacking.

  • Leicester City (blue bars) have one hell of a great parabolic relationship (follows the white dashed parabola of Chelsea going on) – and Man United do as well.  Not quite as pronounced as Chelsea but the pattern of attack is similar in team outputs.
  • The difference there with Leicester City is obviously quality  – less means less for the most part in the EPL – but all things considered not a bad form for Leicester.
  • In considering Man United – plenty of patience (like Chelsea) but the finishing is getting in the way – perhaps Wayne Rooney is not the striker this team needs?
  • Even more worrisome for Man United should be that they’ve played no-one of great concern in the EPL yet – they’ve got Everton next weekend then a potential break with West Brom (but maybe not?) then they have Chelsea and Man City back to back…
  • When looking at the pear-shaped teams it’s West Brom, Spurs, and Stoke City who best follow the pattern (black dashes) set by Burnley.
  • Crystal Palace look to follow the Chelsea parabola but appear to lack goals scored relative to the percentage of shots on goal – perhaps attributed to missing the near or far post?   Still not bad form inside the 18 yard box.
  • Those who chart Expected Goals will know that better than I.

In moving on to my Expected Wins Diagram; here’s the same teams viewing how those percentages of success translate to overall volume: 

EPL Expected Wins after Week 6

 I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting Chelsea in light yellow while highlighting Burnley in light orange.

A few items of note here without 800 odd words of observations:

  • Recall I mentioned that Crystal Palace was a bit lacking in goal scoring percentage compared to shots on goal – well in looking at all these teams, Crystal Palace average the lowest volume of activity in all these categories until – until – you get to Shots on Goal and Goals Scored…  pretty remarkable and perhaps a great example of how an effective attacking performance plays out, statistically, for a team that plays more towards a counter-attacking style than a possession based style.
  • I don’t offer Crystal Palace as being more direct given their lower volume of passes attempted in the Final Third – if their numbers were near Stoke City then I might.
  • Note that Man United exceed all the others in this scrum by a good margin with one exception – Stoke City, who has a considerably less volume in passing but ends up with a higher volume of shots taken.
  • In considering Stoke – note the drop-off in shots on goal and goals scored… even though they have the largest volume of shots taken for these teams.
  • Perhaps this is another great example of a team that looks to play slightly more direct, has less patience on the ball, and as a result, their overall productivity takes a nose-dive when it comes to scoring goals?
  • Oh – had to change the color for Chelsea to light blue given the white background…

I had a request earlier this week to offer up my Expected Wins diagram using a Logarithmic scale – as such I’ve included one below:

EPL Expected Wins after Week 6 Log Scale

The highlighted areas remain the same – but with this approach you can clearly see the negative outcomes for Stoke City and Burnley – while also seeing that the overall data collection points do have a relationship.

The healthy one is clearly the light blue bar for Chelsea – and as noted in Expected Wins 3 – this league works off of volume with the exception of Final Third Passes Attempted… losing teams (now) attempt more passes into the Final Third – pretty much reinforcing that Direct Play just isn’t good enough to cut it in the EPL.

Moving on to Defending PWP: 

DPWP Strategic Index Week 6 EPL

Man United, Stoke, West Brom and Spurs are fall above the mid-table while Leicester City and Crystal Palace are near bottom; again they don’t really bunch up in defending team performance like they do in results.

In looking at the diagram below it’s a wonder Stoke City are as high up as they are – I’ll offer up where Stoke gets hit worst a bit later – for now notice that I’ve replaced Chelsea and Burnley with Southampton and QPR:

Key Strategic Defending PWP Indicators Week 6 EPL

Measuring defending statistics is always hard to do because I have to intuit what doesn’t happen on the pitch; given the lack of clarity in separating  passes and shots between those that are hindered and those that are open… more here on that if interested.

For now the juice in 800 words or less:

  • A bad sign for me in how effective a team is, in defending their 18 yard box, is when the opponent percentage of goals scored, per shots on goal, exceeds the percentage of shots on goal, per shots taken.
  • The team who best represents a lower percentage of goals scored per shots on goal than shots on goal per shots taken is Southampton – currently in second place;  the White dotted line.
  • At this stage their differential is 19.15% – second best is West Ham at 11.71% and third best is Swansea City at 9.22%.
  • Of all the teams in this focus Man United has the best differential (+2.23%).
  • The worst of the lot is Stoke City; a differential of -21.87%; the largest margin by far… either they need a new Goal Keeper or they need better fullbacks and center-backs…
  • What keeps them on the higher end of the DPWP is lower percentages for their opponent in possession and shots on goal per shots taken – so they do a great job in looking to prevent the shots taken reach goal – but when they do reach goal they are high quality shots… I’d attribute this to poor positional play in the 18 yard box and perhaps goals conceded on the counter-attack.
  • Either that or their Goal Keeper simply isn’t that good?
  • As far as penetration goes, we already see Crystal Palace yields possession and space in the midfield – as do West Brom, Crystal Palace, and, for the most part, Leicester City.
  • With higher opponent percentages in possession – coupled with a strong passing league, it’s no wonder when the defense breaks down in the 18 yard box those teams are going to be slightly less effective than someone like Southampton.

In closing:

It should be noted that only Crystal Palace and Leicester City are on the lower end of DPWP – so these teams can score and at this stage it’s their attack that is pushing them to mid-table – can that hold?

Hard to say – one thing is, neither of those teams is as pear-shaped as Newcastle…

Still early days yet but teams are showing tactical trends, seen before in PWP analysis, that separate the possession based teams with those who like to play counterattack or more direct.

Survival of the fittest couldn’t be more clear in this superb league… speaking of Newcastle; how on earth are they so low in the Table?

More to follow on that question in a couple of weeks.

Best, Chris

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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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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

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark.

 

English Premier League Week 3 – Chelsea blow past Everton but it’s not all about Chelsea this week…

Perhaps a few shockers this past weekend – Queens Park Rangers defeating Sunderland 1-nil and Burnley (only?) drawing with Man United nil-nil certainly are intriguing, and from a pure entertainment standpoint the Chelsea game had it all.

But soccer isn’t about one specific week in League competition – it’s about the consistency of purpose in performing week in and week out.  

So for the first three weeks my two teams operating at (unexpected) peak performance are Swansea City and Aston Villa.

Now I’m sure others feel or think Chelsea deserve some credit and they do – but at this stage they’re boring as I’d have expected them to do well.

And as for Manchester United – well… I’ll give them a look a bit later during this 2 week break.

For now though a special look at Swansea City and Aston Villa; wrapped up within my Possession with Purpose Strategic Index analysis after Week 3.

With that here’s the tale of the tape in Composite Possession with Purpose after Week three:

CPWP INDEX 2014 WEEK 3 EPL

The early season form for Swansea City sees them completing ~85% of all their passes with a mid-table ranking, in Final Third completions, at ~67%.  

The most telling difference between Swansea and other teams, early on, is their superb ability in putting shots on goal, per shots taken, (55.56% – leading the EPL) and a healthy 39.29% of goals scored, per shot on goal.

And while the location of those shots might have some value – I expect the space and time the strikers had was telling; in checking shot location for Swansea City it appears 50% of their shots originate from outside the 18 yard box with 2 of them scoring; while 4 of their 15 inside the box have resulted in goals.

What’s amazing here is that both Swansea and QPR lead the league in Shots Taken per possession-penetration into the Final Third.

Swansea averages 20.88% shots taken per penetrating-possession – while QPR averages 21.40% (leading the EPL).

Where QPR falters, big time, is they’ve only managed to put 20% of those shots on goal and a measly 8% of those shots on goal have resulted in a goal…

Again, shot location might have value but I’d expect their shot location is okay – where they falter is (perhaps?) more about lack of patience and clear space in order to take quality shots…

A quick check indicates that 24 shots from QPR have come from within the 18 yard box – while 21 shots have come from outside the 18 yard box… seems to reinforce my time and space theory as opposed to strictly looking at shot location… others may have a different view?

Can you say QPR need to buy some strikers?  

I would – but perhaps even more important is it appears to me that QPR also need to buy one or two midfielders that have more patience in setting up more shots for their teammates in open space.

Just another example here of why I’d like to see those two new statistics in soccer – Open Pass and Open Shot

And yes, Swansea have only faced Burnley, Man United, and West Bromich Albion.

At this stage that might not be saying a whole lot but a win is a win is a win – and Swansea have three of them!.

A mid-season win has no more, or less value, than an early season win.  So all those second guessing the early season form should recognize nine points is far better than three points; or like Man United, one point!

As for other team performances – it was disappointing to see Man City couldn’t put one past Stoke City this weekend.

They had plenty of possession and penetration, but alas, as Swansea and Chelsea so deftly point out, the full run of the game means you need accuracy in shots taken just as much as accuracy in passing, both inside and outside the Final Third.

Of course, having a player who can dribble-sprint 60 yards, dodge past three players, and meg the keeper, can really help a team – well done Stoke City.

So how do the teams compare in the Attacking PWP Index?

APWP INDEX 2014 WEEK 3 EPL

Chelsea – surprised?

Probably not…  What a thrilling match that was; nine goals with six of them by Chelsea.

And we shouldn’t ignore Liverpool and that three goal burst against Spurs… a shocker? (perhaps?) but we’ll know if that’s a real shocker sometime later this season.

As for Everton, scoring three goals themselves, don’t pay a penalty in APWP for the lack of scoring goals – where their drop in overall performance comes is in viewing the DPWP Index – here:

DPWP INDEX 2014 WEEK 3 EPLLast week Everton were 5th worst in DPWP – rightly so given they had already given up two goals to Arsenal and two goals to Leicester City.

All told that’s 10 goals against in just three games… wow… Martinez is going to have to make some changes (big money changes) if that goals-against rot continues… even now I’d expect them to work very hard during this early season break to fix their defense….

So who’s a great example of how an effective Defense keeps a team shining, even when the attack isn’t the best?

While only three weeks have been played my shining example is Aston Villa.

They are ranked 4th worst in team attacking performance but when it comes to team defense… they’re ranked 4th best.  A great example of where strong defense gets you points – they have seven at this stage.

So how does that 4th best translate to success on the pitch?

Opponents are completing ~64% of their passes in the Villa Final Third – 7th lowest in the EPL.  Of note is that opponents are possessing the ball better than 60% of the time.

For me that means Villa yield possession, up high, and play slightly deeper and tighter in their own half.

That compact approach, in their defending half/third, sees the opponent completing just under 20% of their total possession in the Villa Final Third.

In other words, even when the opponent has the ball, 80% of that possession is outside the defending third —> (of no major consequence)…

And, even more impressive, is that when the opponent does penetrate – only ~12% of that penetrating possession results in an opponent shot taken.  And of that 12% only 29% of those shots taken end up as shots on goal.

Remember those stats from Swansea and QPR and how low QPR was in finishing (8%).

Well, as a team, opponents of Villa have just 11% of their shots on goal resulting in a goal scored against.  That is 2nd lowest (best) in the EPL and only Swansea is lower – permitting just 6.67% of their opponents shots on goal scoring a goal.

Clearly these two teams are performing at peak compared to others.

So for a quick comparison – Villa yield possession at 60% (on average), while Swansea do not yield possession; their opponents average 49.19% possession.  

So from a defending tactical view Swansea’s game style is not the same as Villa’s.

Swansea appears (data wise) to play a bit higher and yield penetration a bit more.

Opponents penetrate 23.11% of the time they possess the ball and take more shots against than Villa’s opponents who average 15.11%.

So an apparent tighter (man-marking) defensive scheme sees Swansea opponents having fewer shots on goal per shot taken; 19.13% versus Aston Villa at 28.79%.

Bottom line here is the contrast in defending styles can be noted, tracked, and measured without looking at tackles, interceptions, clearances, etc…

In other words it helps scratch that itch of measuring what doesn’t happen on the pitch as opposed to what does happen.

My earlier views on that can be read in this article published earlier.

In Closing:

Still early so no more diagrams – over the next couple of days, after putting together my Bundesliga and La Liga Weekly recaps I’ll go back and pick out some thoughts about Manchester United after three weeks, what weakness and strengths the data behind the Indices might offer.

All for now.

Best, Chris

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