Tagged: Southampton

Barcley’s Premier League Week 26 in Review

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

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

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

Stoke City took three points…

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

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

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

Arsenal earned maximum points.

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

Hull City earned maximum points.

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

West Brom did earn that point.

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

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

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

Man City took three points in a BIG way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All to play for this weekend…

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

Best, Chris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BPL Standings and Index Through Week 25

 

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

CPWP Predictability Index Through Week 25

The next round sees:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In closing:

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

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

Best, Chris

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The losers keep losing – Barcley’s Premier League

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

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

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

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

Here’s the Model from last week:

CPWP Predictability Index Week 22

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

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

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

As for all the other games…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CPWP Index Through Week 23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other words John Carver carved up Hull City…

CPWP Strategic Index Week 22

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

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

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

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

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

Now for the rundown for next week:

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

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

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

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

QPR versus Southampton – Southampton should earn the points.

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

Everton versus Liverpool – Everton should earn the points.

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

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

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

In Closing:

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

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

All to play for….

Best, Chris

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Tough Time for the Toffies

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:

CPWP Strategic Index Week 22Everton sit sixth in the CPWP Index – one of the few oddities and most likely a strong contributor to the Index having a .91 R2 as opposed to .95 or .96…

So what isn’t working for Everton that is for some other teams in the top half of the table?

First off – Attacking:

APWP Strategic Index Week 22

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?

DPWP Strategic Index Week 22

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…

In Closing:

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???

Best, Chris

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Scintillating Saints Stay Strong…

Southampton continues to stay strong in the Barcley’s Premier League, and for me it’s no fluke… in the first part of my two part analyses of the Saints I’ll peel back how they are doing in Attack.

Before digging in, a diagram and to put things into perspective about Southampton and their ‘team’ concept of consistency:

Southampton Points Earned to CPWP Index

Most of you know by now that the Possession with Purpose Family of Indices are some of the most relevant Indices in modern-day soccer statistical calculations.

So when looking at the combined efforts of Southampton (cradle to grave in both Attacking and Defending Team performance) their should be no surprise they are where they are in the League Table.

To help paint a picture of progress for Southampton through their first 22 games here’s a few selected diagrams that peel back some of my more popular statistical relationships.  Three in quick succession:

Southampton in PossessionSouthampton in Passing Accuracy

Southampton in Penetration

Notice that even with declining Possession, and a slight drop in overall Passing Accuracy, their levels of Penetration remain roughly the same – mathematically speaking the trend-line shown for Penetration is y = 0.000x +.231 – meaning there is a slight positive slope, over the course of 22 games as compared to the negative slope (trend-line) for Possession and Passing Accuracy.

For me, I’d offer this is down to better understanding what areas of Penetration are more vital in trying to defeat opponents than simply the pure aesthetics of the game.

Some additional comments:

Although Possession, on the Aggregate has an R2 of .77 for all teams compared to Points in the League Table, Possession – itself – alone – game to game – through the course of 22 games for Southampton, has virtually NO reasonable relationship to Points Earned – the R2 is .059.

In addition, Passing Accuracy, itself, alone, game to game – through the course of 22 games for Southampton has virtually NO reasonable relationship to Points Earned – the R2 is .29

Finally, you guessed it – the R2 for physical penetration, with the ball, has an R2 of -.18 – again, meaning there is NO reasonable relationship to Points Earned.

In comparing the Saints to other teams in the Barcley’s Premier League they are 8th highest in overall Possession, 10th best in overall Passing Accuracy and 7th lowest in overall Penetration.

After Penetration there remains creating shots, putting them on target and scoring goals:

Southampton in Creating Shots Southampton in Shots on Goal per Shots Taken Southampton in Goals Scored per Shots on Goal

Throughout the course of the season the Saints, like in Penetration, have been very consistent in creating shots per penetration – their variation, across 22 games has been 4% from the mean – a similar variation with respect to Penetration as well.

Notice that with the relative consistency of Shots Taken – their percentage of Shots on Goal per Shots Taken has dropped but yet their percentage of Goals Scored per Shots on Goal has increased.

I put this down to making better use of time and space and perhaps??? a slight change in tactics to work from a more counter-attacking approach.  Recall that both Possession percentage and Passing Accuracy have dropped over the course of 22 games.

In studying other teams, with those trends, in Major League Soccer, the Bundesliga, and La Liga, it usually indicates a slight change in Defending tactics to help open up additional time and space in a counter-attacking based approach.

Perhaps??? another thought is that as more teams become aware of Southampton’s ability to ‘win’ consistently the Saints are having to revert to other tactical approaches, outside the standard possession-based approach, used more often by teams like Man City or Chelsea.

In speaking of those two teams – against Chelsea they had 40% possession and took one point while going up against Man City they had ~52% possession and lost.  In the case with those two teams —> less was better…  as it was when they took three points from Arsenal while only having 41% of the possession…

I suppose I sound like a broken record here but time and time again the soccer pundits on TV continue to harp on about Possession (more possession) being a good indicator that a team will win… it simply isn’t true!

In terms of overall averages, compared to the rest of BPL, the Saints are 8th lowest in Shots Taken per Penetration, 3rd highest in Shots on Goal per Shots Taken, and 5th highest in Goals Scored per Shots on Goal.

So even with the marked decrease in Shots on Goal per Shots Taken (diagram above) they are still 3rd highest in average compared to the rest of BPL.

Quantity, as opposed to Quality… As indicated in this article (Busting the Myth of Moneyball) the best single indicator for Southampton, in attack, is Goals Scored – here’s the look at their volume of activity, in the Final Third leading to Goals Scored:

Southampton Attempted Passes Final Third Southampton Completed Passes Final Third Southampton Shots TakenSouthampton Shots on GoalSouthampton Goals Scored

Pretty obvious that there is a downward trend across the span of 22 games for Southampton, yet they continue to earn points – in an ideal business environment the best word to represent this type of activity is “efficiency” – getting more with less… and it’s not all about quantity – it’s about quality!

So when viewing Total Shots Ratio and even Expected Goals the trends for Southampton (by volume) are not best represented without first understanding that in order to maximize these attacking outputs the defending approach has changed…

More to follow later this week on the Saints and their quality and quantity in Defending team performance.

Best, Chris

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You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp

Chelsea sits atop… Saints continue to March…

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:

CPWP Index English Premier League Through Week 21

General thoughts:

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:

APWP Index English Premier League Through Week 21

Defending PWP Index:

DPWP Index English Premier League Through Week 21A few thoughts…

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:

CPWP Predictability Index English Premier League Through Week 21

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’…

In Closing:

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.

Best, Chris

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You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp

Chelsea and Man City Lead the Pack

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:

CPWP Strategic Index Week 17

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:

CPWP AMBER BUBBLE BAR TEAMS THROUGH WEEK 17First off – my apologies if there are too many lines here – I tried to stay with team colours – hope you don’t mind…

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!

APWP AMBER BUBBLE BAR TEAMS THROUGH WEEK 17As with the CPWP Index, higher here in the APWP Index is better.

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:

DPWP AMBER BUBBLE BAR TEAMS THROUGH WEEK 17

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:

APWP Strategic Index Week 17

Quick observations…

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:

DPWP Strategic Index 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.

In Closing:

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.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp

EPL – Charting progress after 12 Weeks

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

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

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

Bottom Six:

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

Now for my Composite PWP Strategic Index:

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 12

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

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

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

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

Attacking PWP Strategic Index:

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

Defending PWP Strategic Index:

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

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

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

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

In Closing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

For me, this means reinforces two things:

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

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

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

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

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

CPWP Perdictability Index EPL Week 12

Best, Chris

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You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp

 

Hammers hurdle forward and Villa vanquishes backwards

A tale of two teams!

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

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

CPWP Strategic Index Week 6 EPL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CPWP STRATEGIC INDEX WEEK 11 EPL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Strategic Attacking Indicators Aston VillaObservations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aston Villa in Defending:

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

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

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

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

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

Key Strategic Attacking Indicators West Ham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Closing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark.

You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp

English Premier League – Top Totties – Week 5 in Review

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

What on earth is going on at Man United?

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

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

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

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

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

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

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

So how about Chelsea and Southampton?

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

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

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

APWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

APWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

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

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

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

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

A few other observations before moving on to DPWP:

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

DPWP Strategic Index:

DPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

DPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Closing: 

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

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

Best, Chris

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