Tagged: Stoke City

English Premier League – Possession with Purpose – Week 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

CPWP EPL AFTER WEEK 2

Observations:

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

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

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

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

Now for Attacking PWP (APWP):

APWP EPL AFTER WEEK 2

Observations:

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

Next up Defending PWP (DPWP):

DPWP EPL AFTER WEEK 2

Observations:

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

In Closing:

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

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

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

Other links that may be of interest to you include:

Possession with Purpose

My presentation at the World Conference on Science and Soccer

New Statistics (Open Shots and Open Passes)

Thanks in advance for your patience.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

Barcley’s Premier League – How Goes It?

In my latest installment of Possession with Purpose in Europe I have a number of diagrams to offer to include the latest on the PWP Predictability Index.

You’ll note that in every case the PWP Correlation to the League Tables for all four competitions has stayed the same or gotten better.

Also of interest is that a number of youth soccer teams, and another writer, have joined the queue in leveraging the PWP approach in analyzing soccer games – what remains, after publishing my Academic Paper (real soon as things go) is my ability to get data quicker and to set up a software system – probably using MS Access – to better enable match reporting.

It’s slow going – but that’s okay…  patience is a good thing…

Now for the grist in the English Premier League:

Last we spoke (after Week 26) here was the latest on CPWP Predictability;

  1. Eight of Ten
  2. Seven of Ten
  3. Eight of Ten
  4. Eight of Ten

In looking at Week 27 the CPWP Predictability Index was Six for Eight (hitting the 75% target).

For Week 28 the CPWP-PI had Man City earning at least a point vs. Leicester City, Chelsea earning at least a point vs West Ham, Man United earning at least a point vs Newcastle, Arsenal earning at least a point vs QPR, Everton earning at least a point vs Stoke, Spurs earning at least a point vs Swansea City, Liverpool earning at least a point vs Burnley, Aston Villa v West Brom dead even, Hull City earning at least a point vs Sunderland, and Southampton earning at least a point vs Crystal Palace.  Last but not least there was an off-game played between Spurs and QPR – the CPWP-PI had Spurs earning at least one point – they did.

  • In every case this week the CPWP-PI got it right with one exception – Stoke City took all three points against Everton!  So that made it ten for eleven in identifying whether or not a team would earn at least one point based upon the CPWP-PI.  In only two cases did the team expected to earn a point didn’t get three points – Aston Villa and Hull City.

For Week 29 the CPWP-PI had Chelsea earning at least a point vs Southampton, Everton earning at least a point vs Newcastle, Man United earning at least a point vs Spurs, QPR earning at least a point vs Crystal Palace, Arsenal earning at least a point vs West Ham, Hull City earning at least a point vs Leicester City, Aston Villa earning at least a point vs Sunderland, Stoke City earning at least a point vs West Brom, Man City earning at least a point vs Burnley, and Liverpool earning at least a point vs Swansea City.

  • Burnley had the upset of the week while Crystal Palace and West Brom continued their good, recent, run of form.  All told CPWP-PI correctly identified seven of ten teams earning points that week.

For Week 30 the CPWP-PI had Man United earning at least a point vs Liverpool, Chelsea earning at least a point vs Hull City, Everton earning at least a point vs QPR, Man City earning at least a point vs West Brom, Swansea City earning at least a point vs Aston Villa, Arsenal earning at least a point vs Newcastle, Southampton earning at least a point vs Burnley, Stoke City earning at least a point vs Crystal Palace, Spurs earning at least a point vs Leicester City, and West Ham earning at least a point vs Sunderland.

  • In every case but one the CPWP-PI correctly predicted what team would earn at least one point except for the loss Stoke City had against Crystal Palace – again – a team in good form since the coaching change!  That makes it nine of ten again this past week.

In summary:

  • Eight of Ten
  • Seven of Ten
  • Eight of Ten
  • Eight of Ten
  • Ten of Eleven
  • Seven of Ten
  • Nine of Ten
  • Totaling 57 of 71 for an 80% accuracy rating

Here’s the CPWP Index after Week 30:

CPWP Through Week 30 EPLHere’s the CPWP-PI Predictability Index for Week 30:

CPWP Predictability Index Through Week 30 EPL

For this next week CPWP-PI has:

  • Arsenal earning at least a point vs. Liverpool
  • Southampton earning at least a point vs. Everton
  • West Ham earning at least a point vs. Leicester City
  • Man United earning at least a point vs. Aston Villa
  • Swansea City earning at least a point vs. Hull City
  • West Brom earning at least a point vs. QPR
  • Chelsea earning at least a point vs. Stoke City
  • Spurs earning at least a point vs. Burnley
  • Newcastle earning at least a point vs. Sunderland, and
  • Man City earning at least a point vs. Crystal Palace
  • Another odd game has Aston Villa earning at least a point vs. QPR

In Closing:

Completion of my Academic Paper on Possession with Purpose nears…  another writer has asked to begin leveraging PWP analysis to their own team writing efforts and there are now three youth soccer clubs using the concepts and philosophy of PWP in trying to help their teams improve – both collectively as well as for their individual players.

Best, Chris

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Barcley’s Premier League Week 26 in Review

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

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

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

Stoke City took three points…

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

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

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

Arsenal earned maximum points.

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

Hull City earned maximum points.

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

West Brom did earn that point.

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

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

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

Man City took three points in a BIG way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All to play for this weekend…

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

Best, Chris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BPL Standings and Index Through Week 25

 

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

CPWP Predictability Index Through Week 25

The next round sees:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In closing:

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

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

Best, Chris

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Barcley’s Premier League Round-up Week 24

In a week with some eye-brow raising results the best surprise, for some, came from Spurs taking three points from Arsenal.  

I won’t dig into that game too much; 7amkickoff.com already do a great job telling the tales for the Gunner supporters.  If you’re a Gunners supporter you should follow Tim @7amkickoff and read what he and Naveen, along with others, provide on a daily basis.

For now I’ll just focus how things went over the weekend and what outcomes you may expect given next week’s games.

In taking a direct lift from last weeks article/prognostications I’ve added whether the team did or didn’t earn points:

Spurs are up against Arsenal – Arsenal should earn the points; they didn’t.

Aston Villa versus Chelsea – Chelsea should earn the points; they did.

Leicester City against Crystal Palace – close one hear but Leicester City should earn the points; they didn’t and their Coach was sacked – wait – oh – no he wasn’t!

Manchester City against Hull City – Manchester City should earn the points; they did – but not maximum points as most EVERYONE in the world would have expected!

QPR versus Southampton – Southampton should earn the points; they did.

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.  Swansea earning a point and so did Sunderland!

Everton versus Liverpool – Everton should earn the points; they did – but so did Liverpool.

Burnley against West Brom – West Brom should earn the points; they did, but so did Burnley.

Newcastle versus Stoke City – Stoke City should earn the points – but given the fractional difference between the teams a draw is likely as well.  Stoke City did earn a point, AND, as noted from last week this game was a likely draw – it was.

West Ham United against Man United – Man United should earn the points.  They did – but just one, and they eked that out in stoppage time…  a big disappointment for the Hammer supporters I’m sure as it was Manchester blowing bubbles after this one and not West Ham.

All told, the CPWP Predictability Index was correct in identifying seven out of the ten teams to earn points.

That’s two weeks running where the results have come very close to what was predicted.

Some may say using a prediction model to predict points (and not wins) isn’t proper cricket – well it’s not – in my opinion it’s recognizing football for what it is – a game where sometimes getting a point has just as much value as getting three points.

Moving on to the Possession with Purpose Index through Week 24.  Here’s how the teams stand this week:

CPWP Index Through Week 24

The changes from last week include Liverpool moving ahead of Everton and West Brom edging past Aston Villa; otherwise all quiet on the English front.

If we cast back as far as Week 21 Spurs are the team that’s moved the most – shifting up two places moving past both West Ham and Swansea.

For next week:

CPWP Predictability Index Through Week 24

Arsenal v Leicester City:  Arsenal should earn points.

Does anyone really expect the outcome of this match to be in question?  That said perhaps there’s a bow-wave effect with the sacking and unsacking of Nigel (can’t keep a player down, oh yes I can) Pearson…

Hull City v Aston Villa:  Hull City should earn points.

I can see this one ending in a draw given the potential let down Hull has after stealing a point from Man City last week.  Aston Villa have won more times away from home than Hull City has won at home; pathetic.

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?

Sunderland v QPR:  Sunderland should earn points.  

If you recall from my article on Busting the Myth of Moneyball in Soccer, Sunderland was one of those teams that had a great correlation of earning points relative to worse passing accuracy.  In other words the worse their passing completion rate the more likely they were to win.

That hasn’t changed in the last two weeks – so look for Sunderland to tank a few passes on purpose… and with playing QPR that may be hard to do…  Nevertheless I think Sunderland can do that because QPR simply doesn’t win (at least not since Week 17) and they actually have fewer draws than wins this year… oh my.

Liverpool v Spurs:  Liverpool should earn points.

Liverpool are on a run of late – taking 10 of 12 points and they haven’t dropped three points since game 16 against Man United.  Spurs, on the other hand are getting better at scoring goals relative to shots on goal.  All told that ratio has an R2 of .61 compared to points earned.  Liverpool will need to make an extra effort to contain that guy named Kane.

Man United v Burnley:  Man United should earn points.

Can anyone really expect Burnley to pull at least one point here?  I don’t see it happening.  In looking at their team performance this year there doesn’t appear to be any pattern to them earning points.

Southampton v West Ham:  Southampton should earn points.

The ideal operating conditions for West Ham see them maximizing points earned when they average between 42% and 55% possession – in those 11 games they have taken 26 out of 33 points… perhaps a better predictive model for West Ham is trying to figure out how much possession they will have given their next opponent?

The worst operating conditions for West Ham appear when falling below 42% possession; in those 10 games they have taken just eight points out of 30.  They play Southampton next week and the Saints average 52.61% possession – in looking at that same bell curve (42% – 55%) for Southampton they’ve taken 21 out of 30 possible points.

This could be a great game to watch for tactical nuance, especially since the last time these two played Southampton took all three points with 62% possession.  You can bet Sam Allardyce will have learned from that – now it’s time to see if Koeman can change things up and get three points again… the gum will be madly chewed next week…. anyone got any Bazooka Joe they can spare?  Or do they even sell that anymore???

Chelsea v Everton:  Chelsea should earn points.

Everton are probably the best team at getting nothing from something.  They have just six points out of their last four games and it’s pretty clear they are not making a run for Europe next year.  I wouldn’t expect Chelsea to give them an real opportunities next week – the Blues will probably be chewing Toffee candy for a full 90 minutes.

Stoke City v Man City:  Man City should earn points.

Man City have pulled just 3 points out of their last four games – I’ll not say there is a pattern there but it is intriguing that patience is usually a good thing for Man City – with only breaking 11% once in Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession the last four games I think it is time City start to pull the Shots Taken trigger a bit more.  Otherwise they could take a heavy loss of three points against an under-valued Stoke City.

Crystal Palace v Newcastle:  Newcastle should earn points.  

Crystal Palace do great when they have minimal possession – but they also do crap as well – their accuracy ratings are all over the board but they have won three times in their last four games – perhaps the pattern trying to emerge comes from the new leadership the team has under Alan Pardew?

West Brom v Swansea: Swansea should earn points.

West Brom average winning once in about every 5 games – they took three points in Week 5, Week 10, Week 16, and Week 21.  It’s not Week 26 yet so it’s unlikely Albion take three points here.

In reviewing Swansea, they are a team searching to find a way to win more regularly in the BPL; hopefully they can travel to the midlands and earn some points…  and seeing that they’ve only taken 3 points 3 times in away matches this year this might be a game where West Brom come into it thinking they can take three points themselves…

Should be a good battle even though West Brom have struggled… a draw here would probably see both teams feeling better about not dropping points as neither team can be expected to do anything but finish mid-table or lower.

In closing:

I’ll be putting together some articles later this week looking at the Predictability Indices for La Liga and the Bundesliga.

If you’re a Head Coach in England, and you’re constantly on the hot coals battling job security based upon promotion and relegation, why not pull up your stakes and head to the States…

It’s here, without promotion and relegation, that you are more likely to be able to run the type of tactical system you want to run – and it’s also reasonable to expect that you’ll be able to have a team with roughly the same balance of player skills as everyone else…

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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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 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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