Tagged: team performance

Getting Better as a Youth Soccer Coach

When I was a Soccer Youth Head Coach, in England and America, I sometimes struggled with how to manage the well-intentioned, high level of energy, that parents and/or guardians brought to the Soccer pitch.

At that time I hadn’t concieved my Possession with Purpose analytical approach, but if I had, I would certainly have followed it.

Why, because I think and feel there is great value in understanding some of the basic activities of soccer, mesauring those activities, and using those results to drive improvement.  And the earlier in the development of soccer the better in understanding that while this game is measured by wins, draws, and losses, it isn’t just about scoring goals – it’s about preventing them too.

If you’re an aspiring soccer Head Coach, new or old, I think this approach in leveraging parents/guardians to help you help the team is a great step towards getting better.

If that resonates with you, or even if it doesn’t, I think it’s worthy you take a few minutes to consider what I offer.

Before digging in, you should know up front, this entire approach works from my Strategic Possession with Purpose Family of Indices; the same analysis offered up at the 2014 World Conference on Science and Soccer.

And the same analysis used to evalute professional team performances within Major League Soccer, the English Premier League, the Bundesliga, La Liga, World Cup 2014 and the UEFA Champions League.

The End State is to measure team performance – ignoring results (points in the league table) in order to track and trend (analyze) individual and team performance with the intent of driving towards improvement.

In statistical terms the relationship (correlation) of my analyses (the Composite PWP Index to Points in the League Table) without counting points is (R2) .86.

In other words 86% of the time my own Index reflects the outputs in the League Table without counting points.

AND…. 86% of the time the winning teams execute the steps within PWP better than the losing team!

With that said here’s what to do.

  1. Split the pitch into thirds and place one parent at the entry point into your own defending final third and one at the entry point into your opponent’s defending final third.
  2. Next, place two parents at the middle of the pitch.
  3. Then place one parent at or near the end line on your defending side of the pitch and then one parent at the same position on the opponent’s defending side of the pitch.
  4. Give each parent a clipboard and pen (waterproof if necessary) and have them begin to count and keep track of certain ‘team’ data points.
  5. The two parents in the center of the pitch are to count and document (all) passes attempted and passes completed for each team (throw-ins and free kicks included) across the entire pitch.  If you have four parents then have two track passes attempted and two track passes completed, one for each team.
  6. The two parents at the entry to the defending final third are to count and document passes attempted and completed (within and into) the defending final third for each team. This also includes all throw-ins, crosses, corners and free kicks that are not specific shots taken on goal.  If you have four parents/guardians then have one each track passes attempted and passes completed separately for each team.
  7. Finally, the two parents on the end lines are to count and document shots taken, shots on goal, and goals scored for each team.

At the end of the game you will have a complete data base (by volume and percentage) that gives you the information to identify your team’s possession percentage, passing accuracy, penetration per possession, ability to generate shots per penetrating possession, what percentage of those shots taken were on goal and what percentage of those shots on goal that scored goals (your team attacking).

And since you collected data on your opponent you will also have all the data on how well your opponent did in those same categories against you (your team defending).

Pretty much meaning you’ve just captured the ENTIRE bell curve of activities I use to measure team performance at the very highest level in the World.

With that data you can now determine, analyze, and document/chart/track ways to improve your attacking as well as defending team performances.  And as each game occurs you continue to build a data.

This information is then used to help you develop new training plans that look to help the team improve where weaknesses exist.

I do not recommend keeping track of individual performance unless you have enough parents and players who are mature enough to deal with individual weaknesses.

This approach should have application at any level of soccer – to include premier, as well as select, recreational, ODP or elsewhere.  As a matter of opinion, I’d offer the closer you are to a higher level of play the more important this approach becomes.

Outcomes from this approach give data to set targets for improvement and the ability to measure the success in that improvement.

In addition, this approach also reinforces that Youth Soccer Development is not all about winning, it’s about getting better while trying to do the things teams need to do in order to win.

If any team wishes to take on this challenge, as a youth club, anywhere in America, send me your data and I will give you one month of analysis that includes preparing products I develop in my analysis of professional football clubs.

I may even publish those products, as examples, for others to learn from in future articles.

And if you are located in the Portland or Beaverton area send me a note and I will make every effort to visit a training session, and or game, to help better explain this approach.

Finally, my general analysis may also include some recommendations on what training plans/programs may help focus your team on key areas to improve.

Bottom line at the bottom:

There is value in understanding and tracking the basic activities that occur in a game of soccer.  It not only helps the players understand their larger role in this team game it also helps the parents understand the greater detail and responsibility you have as a coach to help others get better as a ‘team’.

In case you missed it; this year four Head Coaches from teams who finished near or bottom on the CPWP Strategic Index have already been sacked in MLS:

CPWP Strategic Index Week 31 MLS

And last year five of the six worst teams in performing the PWP steps had the Head Coaches sacked!

End of Season 2013 MLS Coaching Changes

Pretty compelling evidence that teams who perform better have Head Coaches who last longer… if you want to have success as a Youth Head Coach then I strongly suggest you adopt the measurement methods and analysis associated with PWP; with or without using Parents/Guardians.

If there are every any questions please feel free to contact me through Linked-in or through twitter; my twitter is @chrisgluckpwp.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark.


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:



  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):



  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):



  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

Real Madrid and Barcelona – Two Horse Race

For me, it’s not the top two that peak my interest this week, it’s the prime movers from mid-table – downwards while looking at the League Table from Week 12 to Week 19.

Here’s how they stand comparing Week 19 to Week 12:

La Liga League Table Through Week 19The teams highlighted in Green and Red I”ll get to in a bit, for now note the positional changes have been significant for many teams in and out of the lower half.

For those interested the CPWP Family of Indices continue to have strong correlation to the League Table without using Points Earned in the calculations.  Here’s how the Indices show things from a team performance standpoint through Week 19:

CPWP Strategic Index Week 19

APWP Strategic Index Week 19

DPWP Strategic Index Week 19Overall the CPWP Strategic Index has an R2 of .89; while the APWP sits at .89 and DPWP sits at -.81.

For those new to the Indices here’s an explanation on how they are created.  No other publicly created set of Indices comes any closer to the League Table – not even Expected Goals – a popular Predictability statistic.

I should point out that these Indices are not Predictability Indices – they are not built to predict the future based upon past data – but……..  this Index, developed from the PWP Process is a Predictability Index:

CPWP Predictability Index Week 19The caution I offer in using it as a forecasting tool is this – when developing a forecasting model you need at “x” amount of samples to reach 95% Confidence Level in your data and its ability to represent trends for the future.

The “x” amount of data needed for this Index is at least 15 games — since games is the primary sample point.  The twist is that since teams behave, for the most part, somewhat differently at home versus on the road you need 15 games of data at home and 15 games of data away from home.

Since this is only Week 19 that threshold has not been reached to substantiate that this predictability portion of this Index hits the 95% Confidence Level limit…

But, you say, the R2 is .77 – agreed – so yes, I would venture that those who like to gamble might want to rely on this tool to help them pick a winner – I did a test run in Major League Soccer, where the home and away statistics are notoriously different and my test run varied in success – straight CPWP PI # of one team compared to another.

That success ran as high as 75% to as low as 30% week to week for about 8 weeks – your choice…  By the way – the Predictability Index created from PWP is simply my Index outputs minus (missing goals scored for or against)…

Back to the movers in La Liga these last seven weeks…

Recall the teams Espanyol (+6), Real Sociedad (+7) (Nice one Moyes!!!), Cordoba (+6), Levante (-6), and Granada (-6)…

In reviewing the APWP Index for each team, from Weeks 1-12 and Weeks 13-19, only one team has seen their Attacking Index increase, Cordoba – all the other teams have seen their overall attacking performance drop slightly during those two time-frames.

Why has Cordoba shown an increase?

It’s down to improved accuracy in Scoring Goals based upon Shots on Goal – all others have experienced slight decreases in quality; either with respect to percentages of Shots on Goal, Shots Taken per Penetration, or Goals Scored from Shots on Goal.

In reviewing the DPWP Index for each team, from Weeks 1-12 and Weeks 13-19, two teams have seen their Defending Index decrease, Levante and Granada – all other teams have seen their Defending Index improve , with Cordoba seeing the most improvement by as much as 11%.

Cordoba’s improvement in Defending comes from Opponents having less quality in putting Shots on Goal from Shots Taken and Goals Scored from Shots on Goal.

Clearly Cordoba has improved on both sides of the pitch, while with the others it’s slightly more difficult to pin down a specific area…

A few interesting notes here are:

  1. Cordoba were bottom of the table, and even after having to play Barcelona, Villarreal and Eibar during this stretch they still gained 6 places, and
  2. The CPWP Index had Cordoba rated 12 best after Week 12, and that Index rating has not changed through Week 19 – meaning it is likely the CPWP Index really did a great job of accurately representing the true team performance of Cordoba compared to other teams in La Liga…
  3. Finally, the CPWP Predictability Index (PI) had Cordoba rated 12th best, after week 12 as well… (perhaps??) an independent data point to substantiate that the predictability nature of  the CPWP PI has value???

In Closing? 

Cordoba showed improved performance on both sides of the pitch while the others didn’t…  (perhaps???) this means that some of the new positions, for these teams, are as much a function of how others have gotten better, or worse, as it is a function of how those teams have, themselves, gotten better or worse…

Meaning position in the League Table, even when seeing changes by as much as six or seven places, may not mean that individual team is playing better – it may mean that other teams, with less noticeable drops in position are playing worse…

Reinforcing again that predictability is not solely associated with goal scoring – it’s also a function of not scoring because some teams are doing better, however slightly, with improved defending but not improved attacking…

If you are a writer for any team in the Bundesliga, La Liga, Barcley’s Premier League, or Major League Soccer and you’d like to use outputs from my Possession with Purpose Family of Indices in your articles please let me know…

I can provide a broad range of support that may help you better tell the story, (explain) to your readers, what or how well your team is doing compared to others… or even itself given certain time-frames (before and after a coach gets sacked, player gets injured, etc…)

If you’d like an example of the type of support I can provide please read this latest article by @7amkickoff.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp.


Busting the Myth of Moneyball in Soccer Statistics?

Over the past month or so Tim, @7amkickoff, and I have been having some great discussions about soccer, statistics, and the ways or means in how to use statistics to better communicate what may be happening on the pitch outside of what may normally be seen by supporters.

I’m not sure we’ve cracked the nut completely but these discussions have spurred me to come up with some other ways to show the strengths and weaknesses of statistics in soccer and what key indicators may better tell the story of a team exclusive of Goals Scored or Goals Against.

My article today is an attempt to do that.

In setting the stage, I feel it is worthy to reinforce that the pioneering of soccer statistics is not just about one or two people; I’m aware of many folks trying to help others better understand the nuance of soccer in a variety of different ways.

But with all that hard work, by people across the pond, and now here, recently in the US, I think  some of the well-intended efforts have strayed off the mark.

Why?  As much as it pains me to say this I blame Moneyball relative to baseball statistical thinking and trying to apply the event statistical thinking of baseball to the concepts of statistical measurement in soccer.

Soccer is not a game played in series (like baseball) it’s a fluid game played with continuous, sometimes random decision making, all with the intent to possess the ball, retain and move the ball, penetrate, create, take shots, put them on target and score goals.

And at any time, be it a Coaching decision, Referee decision, Assistant Referee decision, or a split second decision, by any player, either with or without the ball, can influence the outcome of a game.

Therefore, statistics, single statistics, simply miss the mark on translating the nuance of soccer to the general supporter, and as such, are – on the surface – flawed if used (alone) to evaluate the market value of a player.

To put this into perspective, ignoring Coaching or Referee decisions, here’s a rundown on the Correlations (r’s) of the three best Attacking r’s for each team in the English Premier League.

Caveat:  The statistics are either measured by volume (quantity) or by percentage of accuracy (quality) to Points Earned in the League Table over the span of 21 games, one game at a time; these are not Aggregate r’s.

Said another way, this is NOT a measurement relative to winning or losing… it’s a measurement relative to winning, drawing, or losing (points earned).

  • Chelsea: Goals Scored (.46) Shots on Goal per Shots Taken (.30) Shots on Goal (.18)
  • Burnley: Shots on Goal per Shots Taken (.46) Goals Scored (.44) Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (.40)
  • Man City: Opponent Total Passes (.59) Goals Scored (.58) Opponent Total Passes Completed (.54)
  • Newcastle: Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (.60) Goals Scored (.52) Passes Completed Final 1/3 per Passes Completed Entire Pitch (.49)
  • Southampton: Goals Scored (.58) Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (.58) Shots Taken per Passes Completed Final 1/3 (.46)
  • Liverpool: Goals Scored (.66) Shots Taken per Passes Completed Final 1/3 (.52) Opponent Possession Percentage (.43)
  • Crystal Palace: Goal Scored (.67) Shots Taken per Passes Completed Final 1/3 (.62) Shots Taken (.53)
  • Arsenal: Goals Scored (.60) Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (.41) Shots Taken per Passes Completed Final Third (.20)
  • Spurs: Goals Scored (.67) Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (.65) Shots on Goal (.46)
  • West Ham: Goals Scored (.76) Shots on Goal (.44) Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (.43)
  • Sunderland: Goals Scored (.61) Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (.40) Passes Completed Final 1/3 per Passes Completed Entire Pitch (.38)
  • West Brom: Shots on Goal per Shots Taken (.45) Passes Completed Final 1/3 per Passes Completed Entire Pitch (.45) Goals Scored (.44)
  • Aston Villa: Goals Scored (.76) Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (.46) Shots on Goal per Shots Taken (.41)
  • Stoke City: Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (.81) Goals Scored (.68) Opponent Possession Percentage (.50)
  • Hull City: Goals Scored (.63) Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (.59) Shots on Goal (.36)
  • QPR: Goals Scored (.68) Passes Completed Final 1/3 per Passes Completed Entire Pitch (.56) Shots on Goal (.44)
  • Everton: Shots Taken per Passes Completed Final Third (.71) Goals Scored (.60) Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (.34)
  • Leicester City: Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (.74) Goals Scored (.53) Opponent Possession Percentage (.31)
  • Swansea: Shots on Goal per Shots Taken (.52) Goals Scored (.48) Shots on Goal (.40)
  • Man United: Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (.69) Goals Scored (.62) Shots on Goal per Shots Taken (.28)

What’s that mean?

For the most part what this means is that no two teams show the same consistency of pattern in what single (game to game) quantity or quality indicators best represent team performance in Attacking.

Therefore – the individual player statistics behind these values have a different meaning (amount of influence) in whether a team wins, draws, or loses.

In addition, while Goals Scored (in bold) appears as a relevant indicator it is not the most relevant indicator for every team.  Reinforcing that teams, in attacking, behave differently with respect to earning points in the League Table.

Of additional note is that the r for eight of those teams is less than (.60) and only two teams show an r greater than (.70).

Finally, the single indicators (either by volume or by ratio) that fit into the top three, exclusive of Goals Scored, are:

  • Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (thirteen times)
  • Shots on Goal per Shots Taken (six times)
  • Shots on Goal (six times)
  • Shots Taken per Passes Completed Final 1/3 (five times)
  • Passes Completed Final 1/3 per Passes Completed Entire Pitch (four times)
  • Opponent Passing Percentage (three times)
  • Opponent Total Passes (once)
  • Opponent Total Passes Completed (once)
  • Shots Taken (once)

What’s intriguing is that three Defending Indicators appear; Opponent Passing Percentage, Opponent Total Passes and Opponent Total Passes Completed.

With all those variety of different attacking r values, it’s pretty clear it simply isn’t all about scoring goals (getting a man on base and moving them forward)… therefore the market value used to assess that players value should be questioned if it doesn’t consider outside factors that influence output…

In other words, it’s about a variety of different ways and means to do well – even (in a small way) about not possessing the ball so even passing accuracy is influenced – somewhat – but a head coaching tactical decision.

But wait, there’s more:

All those indicators above show the top three r’s for a team when attacking.

There’s a whole side of the game that is missed with those – and that’s defending.

So here’s the top three, best negative (inverse) r’s compared to Points Earned in the League Table, for each team in the English Premier League:

  • Chelsea: Opponent Goals Scored (-.51) Opponent Shots on Goal (-.43) Opponent % of Success Passes Final 1/3 (-.42)
  • Burnley: Opponent Goals Scored (-.59) Total Passes Completed (-.55) Total Passes (-.54)
  • Man City: Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (-.67) Opponent Goals Scored (-.53) Opponent Passes Completed Final 1/3 per Passes Completed Entire Pitch (-.43)
  • Newcastle: Opponent Goals Scored (-.57) Passing Accuracy (-.44) Total Passes (-.43)
  • Southampton: Opponent Goals Scored (-.72) Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (-.63) Opponent Shots on Goal per Shots Taken (-.35)
  • Liverpool: Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (-.67) Opponent Goals Scored (-.60) Passing Accuracy (-.46)
  • Crystal Palace: Opponent Goal Scored (-.42) Opponent Shots on Goal (-.37) Opponent Shots on Goal per Shots Taken (-.41)
  • Arsenal: Opponent Goals Scored (-.86) Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (-.64) Opponent Shots Taken (-.47)
  • Spurs: Opponent Goals Scored (-.52) Opponent Shots on Goal (-.43) Opponent Shots on Goal per Shots Taken (-.42)
  • West Ham: Opponent Goals Scored (-.66) Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (-.50) Opponent Shots on Goal (-.48)
  • Sunderland: Opponent Shots Taken (-.50) Total Passes Completed (-.40) Total Passes (-.39)
  • West Brom: Opponent Goals Scored (-.80) Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (-.64) Opponent Shots on Goal (-.57)
  • Aston Villa: Opponent Goals Scored (-.60) Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (-.55) Passing Accuracy (-.37)
  • Stoke City: Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (-.70) Total Passes (-.60) Total Passes Completed (-.60)
  • Hull City: Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (-.60) Opponent Goals Scored (-.57) Opponent Total Passes (-.40)
  • QPR: Opponent Goals Scored (-.55) Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (-.42) Opponent Shots on Goal (-.35)
  • Everton: Opponent Goals Scored (-.57) Passes Completed Final 1/3 per Passes Completed Entire Pitch (-.56) Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (-.52)
  • Leicester City: Opponent Shots on Goal per Shots Taken (-.54) Opponent Goals Scored (-.47) Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (-.42)
  • Swansea: Opponent Goals Scored (-.72) Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (-.66) Opponent Shots on Goal (-.59)
  • Man United: Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (-.57) Opponent Goals Scored (-.47) Passes Completed Final 1/3 per Passes Completed Entire Pitch (-.36)

What’s that mean?

Again, for the most part, no two teams show the same consistency of pattern in what single (game to game) quantity or quality indicators best represent team performance in Defending.

Therefore – the individual player statistics behind these values have a different meaning (amount of influence) in whether a team wins, draws, or loses.

In addition, while Opponent Goals Scored (in bold) appears as a relevant indicator it is not the most relevant indicator for every team.  Reinforcing that teams, in defending, behave differently with respect to earning points in the League Table.

Of additional note is that the r for eleven of those teams is less than (-.60) and only four teams show an r2 greater than -.70.

Also, Opponent Goals Scored does not appear in the top three single defending indicators for two teams, Stoke City and Sunderland.

Finally, the single indicators (either by volume or by ratio) that fit into the top three, exclusive of Opponent Goals Scored, are:

  • Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal (fourteen times)
  • Opponent Shots on Goal (eight times)
  • Opponent Shots on Goal per Shots Taken (four times)
  • Total Passes (four times)
  • Total Passes Completed (three times)
  • Passing Accuracy (three times)
  • Passes Completed Final 1/3 per Passes Completed Entire Pitch (twice)
  • Opponent Percentage of Successful Passes Final 1/3 (once)
  • Opponent Shots Taken (once)
  • Opponent Total Passes (once)
  • Opponent Passes Completed Final Third per Passes Completed Entire Pitch (once)

A few thoughts here to go with some of these indicators:

Most recognize that a negative r means there is an inverse relationship – in other words you get more with less or you get less with more.

What is intriguing is that Attacking Total Passes appears four times while Attacking Total Passes Completed and Attacking Passing Accuracy appear three times.

Meaning, as those teams have less overall Passes Attempted, Passes Completed or lower Accuracy they are more likely to earn points.  Imagine that sort of logic applying to baseball – where a team who, sometimes, puts less men on base is more likely to win!

Finally, with the variety of defending r values this also seems pretty clear that earning points is not just about putting a man on base and moving them forward, and in some cases it may even be about not possessing the ball!?!

In Closing:

Single statistics have value – but they should be offered up, in context, with relation to other things that occur in the game of soccer.

Not enough writers do that – they simply offer up individual statistics as if they are the panacea of greatness… the more they do this the more ingrained most soccer supporters become in individual statistics that over-value a player.

And the more the media does it the more likely the supporters will become disenchanted with front office decisions that don’t make sense based upon those high-visibility individual statistics…

I’m not a Moneyball guy for soccer – never have been – and to me that line of thinking is flawed (as it applies to individual statistics in baseball).

What’s that mean??? (Editorial)

After a great question offered up in the comments section I think I should clarify what I mean by that with respect to soccer.

When I read Moneyball I was more focused on the individual statistics part of the game that were used to generate market value than the ‘economic state’ of buying and selling players that might lead to more wins…

That being said, I am not saying that you can’t measure the value of a player in soccer – it can be done but it needs to be done after considering teammates, opposing players, and at least the Head Coach of the team the player plays for.

Modern day soccer statistics, for the most part, don’t measure the appropriate level of influence teammates, opposing players, and Head Coaching tactics – as such when I say I’m not a Moneyball guy when it comes to soccer it really means I don’t buy all that crap about tackles, clearances, goals scored, etc…

I value players relative to team outputs and I strongly feel and think the more media and supporters who understand this about soccer the less frustration they will in blaming or praising one individual player over another player.

I hope that makes sense???

Anyhow, an example if you will…

A player with many tackles or clearances is simply a player with many tackles or clearances – it doesn’t mean they are better or worse than another player with fewer tackles or fewer clearances.

And… actually, I could make a reasonable argument that a player with many tackles or clearances is actually a worse player… why?

For one reason – if an opposing head coach knows that a player on the other side is weak – what do you think that head coach will want his players to do?

Drive or pass the ball towards the weaker player – as such – that increase volume of tackles or clearances will naturally increase that weaker players defending statistics simply because of increased volume!!!!

Bottom line here is that individual tackles or clearances can be over-valued or under-valued – as such – as an individual statistic it’s relevance to a player being better or worse than another player is flawed…

However viewed…

I would offer more individual statistics need to be created for players that better reflect how those statistics relate to points earned.

It’s that type of reporting and analyses that should help others better understand the nuance of soccer and that it isn’t just all about scoring goals.

Best, Chris

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You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp

Colorado Rapids, The Loss of Drew Moor was More or Less?

If you follow the Rapids I’d expect you hope for a far better season coming up than what you saw in 2014.  

Just how ugly was it?  Well……  they weren’t near as bad as Houston, San Jose, Chicago, Montreal, or that defunct team called Chivas, but they were pretty bad compared to the rest of the West.

And with the addition of Sporting KC and a newly revamped Houston, led by a very crafty Owen Coyle, the hill to climb will be even tougher.

In saying that my End of Season run continues with the Colorado Rapids; here’s links to my other End of Season Analyses plus my link to what Possession with Purpose Analyses is all about:

Chicago Fire – Candle Burned at Both Ends

Houston Dynamo – Dynamic Dynamo De-Magnetized as Dominic Departs

San Jose Earthquakes – Earthquakes, Shake, Rattle, and Roll-Over

Montreal Impact – What went Wrong in Montreal?

My Revised Introduction to Possession with Purpose

New for this article, and future End of Season analyses, are my Game to Game Diagrams trending team performance throughout the season.  More to follow on that…

In addition, in offering up my information, I’ll look to identify strengths and weaknesses that also include my thoughts on what primary positions the team may need to upgrade in order to be more successful next year.

To begin, as usual, the CPWP Strategic Index:

CPWP STRATEGIC INDEX END OF SEASON 2014 COMBINEDThere’s CRFC; 6th worst in the CPWP Index (stuck between the Canadian teams, Toronto FC and Montreal Impact).

So in simple terms they weren’t that good.

Meaning Pablo Mastroeni has a multitude of “higher quality” boots he needs to find in order to compete in what should be an extremely tough Western Conference next year; especially with the addition of Kansas City and Houston Dynamo.

Of course the challenge here is that every team is looking to get better next year – and while they’ve added Michael Harrington as a Fullback I’d imagine they need to do “Moor” than just that… anyhow – moving on.

So where to begin on what positional areas need upgrades?

Defense First – here’s a look at where Colorado finished in the Defending PWP Index:

DPWP STRATEGIC INDEX END OF SEASON 2014 COMBINEDAll told, Colorado had the worst Road Goal Differential in MLS (-24)  Yet they were only 7th worst in DPWP.  Is that an early indicator that they need a new Goal Keeper – or – an early indicator they need more than just one Fullback, along with the return of Drew Moor?

I’m not sure, but here’s their trends from game 1 to game 34 in Defending:

Opponent Possession percentage: (Below)

Throughout the course of the season it seems Colorado had the majority of possession compared to their opponents; indeed the opponent averaged 49.14% possession.

All told the opponent possession percentage was 7th lowest in MLS last year – when on the road the opponent possessed the ball 52% of the time – while at home the opponent possessed the ball 46% of the time.

In general it appears that the opponent was more likely to cede control of the ball, for the most part, when visiting Colorado – while Colorado appears to have ceded control, somewhat, when traveling.

In considering the overall opponent possession percentage I’d offer it was not a significant, single indicator, that drove overall poor team defending performance – we’ll have to look elsewhere.


Quick explanation – I’ve added another statistical calculation into my analyses – in this case, and with all the following diagrams, I’ve added the mathematical equation of the Trend Line for the stretch of 34 games.

What this shows is whether or not there was a trend in team performance – for example – in the Opponent Possession Percentage I’ve indicated there is a Slight Positive Slope – this means, over the course of 34 games the opponent had a tendency to increase their amount of possession (from game 1 to game 34).

For analytical purposes a trend line may be used to spot increases or decreases in team performance – in this case I’ll refer to the loss of Drew Moor (I think around game 23) as a point of interest.

If I had to draw a conclusion it would appear that after game 23 the Rapids opponent possession percentage increased – it did – by a margin of 5% points.

As a point of interest – in EVERY instance except Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession – the opponent’s of Colorado either increased their volume of activity or improved their team percentages in execution from Game 24 to Game 34 versus Game 1 to Game 23!

As I’ve noted many times – I’m not an analyst who digs into how individuals impact their team performance on a regular basis – but it would be rude not to identify such compelling information as this.

By the way – it’s actually “expected” that Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession would decrease – this is a trend for all highly productive teams – to include those super teams in Europe as well…

Opponent Passing Accuracy: (Below)

With Moor – 75%; without Moor – 79%

Overall – not bad – 6th best in MLS at 76.45%

The trending increase isn’t all just down to one Center-back – Midfielders and Fullbacks (with appropriate positional play) have a significant role in decreasing opponent passing accuracy!


Opponent Penetration Percentage: (Below)

With Moor – 21%; without Moor 23%

Overall – 6th best in MLS at 21.55%

This trending increase, like above, is not all down to one Center-back missing; the same applies here for Midfielders and Fullbacks as well…


Opponent Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession: (Below)

With Moor – 15,88%; without Moor – 15.80%

Overall – 2nd lowest in MLS at 15.86%

And with a slight negative trend it did mean the opponents offered up fewer shots; but in cases like these the opponents usually ended up putting more shots on goal and more goals scored.


Opponent Shots on Goal per Shots Taken: (Below)

With Moor – 39%; without Moor 45%

Overall the worst in MLS at 41.07%

So that overall status is not down to just missing one Central Defender – it’s more than that as they’ve been pretty poor in this category across the entire length of the season.

And yes, reduced Shots Taken does see an increase in Shots on Goal so the real pain begins to show…


Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal: (Below)

With Moor – 29%; without Moor – 49%

Overall 5th worst in MLS at 35% – again confirming that reduced shots taken increases opponent shots on goal and opponent goals scored…

Regardless of the loss of Drew Moor – it shouldn’t be down to the loss of just one player to see such a huge trend in allowing goals scored against… wow… more than the addition of Michael Harrington and the return of Drew Moor is needed here.


Defending Summary:

 As I’ve noted before – rarely do I focus team analyses with respect to the influence of one single player – but in this case an exception needed to be made.

But… these increases in opponent execution are highly unlikely to be down to the loss of one player – Midfielders and Fullback have a role in this effort – and any Head Coach knows that if there is a weakness in one particular area then the rest of the team needs to help steer the opponent out of that area… in looking at this information it would appear to me that Mastroeni failed to get the rest of his starters to do a bit of extra work in defending!

That may be a bit harsh but it’s a team game and the leader of the team is the Head Coach…

Moving on… as with any game – if the defending side of team performance takes a hit it is likely the attacking side of a team performance will take a hit – as I work through the Attacking PWP I’ll offer up the “with and without” Drew Moor there as well.

My hope is that there isn’t that much of a difference… I’ll explain why in my Closing statements…

Attacking PWP: 


All told it would appear that the Colorado Rapids fell far short on the Attacking side of team performance – 5th worst, overall, in MLS.

Possession Percentage: (Below)

With Moor – 52%; without Moor – 48%

Overall 7th highest in MLS at 50.86%; but we’ve seen that can be a deceiving statistic when looked at on its own.


Passing Accuracy: (Below)

With Moor – 78%; without Moor – 76%

Overall 9th best in MLS at 77%

A good sign that the loss of Drew Moor did not create a huge impact in overall passing compared to other teams in MLS – but – it is clear that their passing accuracy dropped when Drew got injured…


Penetrating Possession: (Below)

With Moor – 21%; without Moor – 21%

Overall 4th lowest in MLS at 21% – so this was pretty low compared to other teams in MLS regardless of the presence of Drew Moor…

In this case productivity did not drop – it stands to reason, then, that upon entering the Opponents Defending Final Third their productivity in creating Shots Taken, Shots on Goal and Goals Scored should not drop either; let’s see?


Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession: (Below)

 With Moor – 20%; without Moor – 21%

Overall 2nd highest in MLS at 20.59% – not a good sign for a team that is supposed to appear like a possession based team – this number should be on the lower end to support patience and drive shots on goal up.

With respect to the presence or non-presence of Drew Moor… in this case their Shots Taken percentage increased – meaning (with a downward trend line) they took more shots with Drew Moor on the pitch than they did without Drew Moor (13.64 without Drew) – (14.09 with Drew)…

And, it also, probably means, they were less patient in their shot taking towards the end of the season – i.e. – playing more Direct Attacking football – again the percentage increase supports that given all the other leagues I analyze showing the same trends.


Shots on Goal per Shots Taken: (Below)

With Moor – 35%; without Moor – 37%

So without Drew Moor they not only took more shots they put more shots on goal – as such team productivity in creating and taking shots did not digress – but – there is a negative slope – which means compared to the earlier part of the season their overall percentages in putting shots on goal did decline.

For me this speaks to weaknesses in attack in addition to the weakness associated with the loss of Drew Moor.

Overall 9th highest in MLS at 36% – above average – which should mean their goals scored was also above average – IF their strikers were doing their job…

The telling indicator here is Goals Scored per Shots on Goal…


Goals Scored per Shots on Goal:  (Below)

 With Moor – 27%; without Moor – 17%

A considerable drop-off —> especially when considering that Moor is a Central Defender – and unlikely to generate a huge negative impact in the attack.

With the loss of Drew Moor we shouldn’t see that significant of a drop off given he is a Central Defender…

Nevertheless, without knowing their overall position compared to other teams in MLS it does reinforce to me that the Colorado Rapids had significant weaknesses in their attacking tandem.  Even more so given that their percentage of shots taken and shot taken that ended up on goal increased considerably as the season wore on.

To confirm… in this category the Rapids were, overall, 3rd worst in MLS at 24%.

Nailing it that this team lacked quality strikers given their higher than average shots on goal, compared to other teams in MLS…


Attacking Summary:

All told, I’d offer that the loss of Drew Moor had minimal impact in the overall lack of attacking team performance, and especially the lack of overall finishing as the Rapids entered the opponent’s defending final third.

This team has more issues in attacking than just the loss of Drew Moor – adding some better Fullbacks and perhaps a wider midfield player (or two) should help as well as revamping their striking tandem.

In closing:

For me – in my own previous experience – the loss of one player is no excuse – it’s an impact for sure but to be clear…

Head Coaches are paid to make adjustments based upon injuries or game state – given the continued decline with the Colorado defense – I’d offer Pablo Mastroeni failed to make appropriate adjustments based upon the loss of one player.

In addition, I’d also offer that Mastroeni lacked leadership, direction, and effective tactics on the attacking side of the pitch as well.

And those working in the Front Office should be concerned that a patchwork of 3-4 players is not going to put this team into the Playoffs next year

For me, adding Michael Harrington is a patchwork approach – he was pushed out in Sporting KC and pushed out in Portland – both teams were better defensively when he was moved out.

So while the return of Drew Moor will help the defense solidify – it’s still major surgery to really prepare this team for what appears to be a very brutal Western Conference next year.

Best, Chris

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You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp

Terrible Start for Borussia Dortmund

Is Borussia Dortmund really that bad?

Doubtful, but it’s results like these that are a nightmare for supporters, members of the Coaching staff and Front Office types alike.

So with the ability to evaluate team performance (outside of just results) what better team to run through the Possession with Purpose grinder?

(Edit) – Latest sees them lose to Eintracht Frankfurt 2-nil!!!!  Really – oh my!

To begin – my weekly update on the CPWP Strategic Index:

CPWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Week 12

So… third worst in the League Table Dortmund and sixth worst in the Index.

Not much difference.  So perhaps Dortmund is experiencing more than just bad luck?

The first place I’ll start is team Attacking performance compared to others; here’s the APWP Strategic Index for your consideration:

APWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Week 12Since they average just 1.17 points at home and .67 points on the road I won’t peel back how they perform home and away – no point – there are poor in team performance either way.  For now the PWP key indicators:

Possession Percentage:

Overall 57.51% (2nd highest in Bundesliga).  Can you say this team has no possession with purpose?

They are 2nd best overall in possession and tied for sixth worst in overall goals scored!

Now a game is not won or lost solely on possession – there is more to PWP, and the game, than that.

Passing Accuracy:

Overall 76.95% (4th highest in Bundesliga).  So with strong possession numbers they also have significantly higher passing accuracy percentages.

In other words they do a great job of passing the ball overall.  Oddly enough that passing accuracy of ~77% is still 1.25% below the average for teams in Major League Soccer.  I wonder… are the majority of players in MLS just as skilled in passing the ball as those in the Bundesliga?

Montreal Impact – who finished 4th worst in the MLS CPWP Strategic Index had an average passing accuracy of 76.90%; only .05% points different than Borussia Dortmund.

Is this an early indicator that the team performance in attacking IS as bad as it looks?

Percentage of Penetration per Possession:

Overall 24.19% (5th highest in Bundesliga).  It should be noted that a partner, at that position, is Werder Bremen, they sit just behind Dortmund at 23.90% and are just one point behind them in the League Table.

So it doesn’t necessarily mean a good thing to penetrate at a high frequency – sometimes lower penetration percentages yield good results.

For example Wolfsburg, who are 2nd best in the League Table, are 12th best (20.49%) yet their average goals scored is 2.00 per game.

Of note, Dortmund’s passing accuracy within and into the Attacking Final Third is 60.76%; that average is still 5th highest in Bundesliga – so it’s not the drop-off in passing accuracy causing issues in attack.

Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession:

Overall 17.57% (12th highest or 6th worst).

So a remarkably high percentage of penetrating possession yet a lower, than average, percentage of shots taken drops off considerably.  Again, this is not necessarily bad.  For some teams this number is lower, for example Bayern Munich has the lowest percentage of shots taken per penetrating possession (13.27%).

And Wolfsburg, who sits 2nd in the League Table sits at 21.26%.

I would submit Dortmund is getting shut down easier as they penetrate the opponents 18 yard box – meaning, for me:

  1. A lack of vision, by a midfielder or two, in creating cutting passes that open up the angles to take better shots, and
  2. A striker, or two, who simply fail to take advantage of time and open space when they find that time and open space.

Shots on Goal per Shots Taken:

Overall 31.28% (6th worst in Bundesliga).

Speaking again to this team not executing well enough to create the appropriate time and open space to take quality shots.  Recall that Bayern Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession was 13.27%; their overall Shots on Goal per Shots Taken shoots up to 40.54%.

Even Wolfsburg, who are 2nd to Bayern sit at 40.31% in this indicator.

Reinforcing, in my opinion, the need for Dortmund to do a better job in creating time and space!

Goals Scored per Shots on Goal:

Overall 18.41% (2nd worst in Bundesliga).

Not much to offer here that hasn’t already been offered – the striking partnerships and attacking midfield support is simply not good enough to work their way past a packed 18 yard box… the quality needs to get better – and perhaps that quality gets better by slowing down the overall volume of passes and penetration.

In other words play the defense back-four a bit deeper in order to lull the opponent into over-committing a bit more…  a typical counter-attacking strategy used by many in the Bundesliga already.

Attacking Summary:

By the way – even Montreal Impact, in the MLS sits at 35.83% when it comes to scoring goals based upon shots on goal!  And no single team in MLS was worse than 19.53% – with the average at 32.81%.

If supporters who follow Montreal Impact are disappointed given how poorly that team performance was I can’t even begin to imagine how disappointed the entire family of Borussia Dortmund is at this stage of the season.

Some significant progress really needs to be made in team performance if this team is to get better results!

In moving on to Defending team performance and the DPWP Strategic Index:

DPWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Week 12

Borussia Dortmund are 5th worst in the Index – so not strong in attacking nor defending team performance!

Opponent Possession Percentage:

 Overall 42.49% (2nd lowest in Bundesliga).

Noted, but as we’ve seen in all the leagues I analyze possession percentage, alone, is not a good indicator.

Opponent Passing Accuracy:

Overall 69.63% (3rd lowest in Bundesliga).

Given what I feel is a higher amount of counter-attacking football in Bundesliga this percentage is not surprising.

What is more surprising, however, is that the opponent’s for Dortmund have just a 49.33% passing accuracy within the Dortmund Defending Final Third.  That is alos 3rd lowest (best) in Bundesliga.

Basically what this means is the opponents of Dortmund really don’t pass the ball very well – or – they play longer balls or offer quicker play given Dortmund attackers being caught out of position during turnovers (anywhere).

For me, this speaks to Dortmund playing somewhat deeper and somewhat less aggressive in attack – in this case give up the idea of trying to emulate FC Bayern Munich and instead look to play more counter-attacking more often.

Opponent Penetration per Possession:

Overall 18.25% (2nd lowest in Bundesliga).

In adding up the details so far, Dortmund yield the 2nd lowest amount of possession, play opponents who are 3rd worst in passing accuracy and 2nd worst in penetration, yet they give up 1.58 goals against per game!


Opponent Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession:

Overall 20.42% (6th highest in Bundesliga).

Again, the numbers are showing a very poor pattern of team performance.

Opponent Shots on Goal per Shots Taken:

Overall 44.85% (2nd highest in Bundesliga).

Goals Scored per Shots on Goal:

Overall 43.69% (2nd highest in Bundesliga).

Defending Summary:

Complete bollocks is what I would offer; their overall team performance really is as bad as their results!

Borussia Dortmund play against opponents who are downright terrible in possession, passing accuracy, and penetration, yet…

When it comes to Defending their own Final Third the opponents are downright SUPERB when it comes to taking shots, that end up as shots on goal and goals scored.

In Closing:

I did some analyses on the Portland Timbers this year – and their early pattern of defense showed the same results as Dortmund.

In the end, after at least two tactical adjustments in defending, the Timbers finally got squared away.  From a tactical viewpoint the corrective action was to drop deeper, roughly 10 yards deeper, and clog the 18 yard box a bit more.

In turn, this adjustment led to an increase in goals scored and a reduction in goals against.

Both of those articles on the Portland Timbers can be found here (Defense) and here (Attacking).

Perhaps this is a reasonable tactic that Dortmund take as this year continues?

I’m not sure, but another diagram to consider is the CPWP Predictability Index shown below:

CPWP Predictability Index Bundesliga Week 12

In looking at the Predictability rating it shows Dortmund’s position excluding goals scored and goals against.  By all accounts this Index tends to support that Dortmund should be doing much better than they are.

One way to interpret this Index is to say that performance, outside and leading into the Final Third (on both sides of the pitch) is solid, where the weaknesses show themselves are in 1) the final creation/finishing, and 2) the final defending/goal keeping.

If that is reasonable then their current issues are not just down to one or two players; it’s more systemic.

Best, Chris

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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


What went wrong in Montreal?

It’s way too early to imagine what sort of impact Montreal will have next year – simply too many variables, least of which is the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Nevertheless – in order to get a better idea of how they might impact the Eastern Conference next year here’s my look at how 2014 went and some thoughts on what positional weaknesses they may need to fill to get better.

As always I’ll start with my End of Season Composite PWP Strategic Index to give you a (non-results) view on where the Impact attacking and defending team performance compared to the rest of Major League Soccer:

CPWP STRATEGIC INDEX END OF SEASON 2014 COMBINEDMontreal (MIFC) are shown here just above San Jose and just beneath Colorado.

If you’ve missed other team analyses links are provided at the end of the article – for now know that I am working worst to first excluding Chivas USA.

In my view that organization was a complete embarrassment to the league (not the players – the owners) as such it’s not worth my time to analyze a team that wasn’t a team…  the sooner they are forgotten, as an organization, the better.

Again – this is not an intent to disparage the players or Wilmer Cabrera – it’s intended to disparage and embarrass the owners!

As with all my end of season analysis I’ll begin with the basic statistics most rely on to tell the immediate (results based) outcomes:

Points Per Game (PPG) = .82; Goals Per Game (GPG) = 1.12; Goals Against Per Game (GAPG) = 1.71; Goal Differntial (GD) = -.59

The worst PPG of any team in MLS this year!

Given the huge disparity in team performance across all of MLS in away games versus home games here’s what those numbers look like for Away and Home Games:

Away:  PPG = .29; GPG = .82; GAPG = 2.00; GD = -1.18 (the worst Away PPG of any team in MLS this year).

Home:  PPG = 1.35; GPG = 1.41; GAPG = 1.41; GD = 0.00 (tied for third worst Home PPG with Colorado and Chicago).

Bottom line here is their results were terrible – a complete and utter failure when it came to results; so is there any light at the end of the tunnel when peeling back their team attacking and defending performances, exclusive of results?  Let’s see…

Attacking PWP Strategic Index:


There’s MIFC, tucked in-between Vancouver and Colorado; interesting – especially since Vancouver made the Playoffs.  Perhaps there is some light that shines within?

Possession Percentage:

Overall 46.92%.  We already know from previous analyses that possession percentage on its own has no relevance – it’s only when you begin to combine that percentage with other key PWP indicators that patterns begin to take shape.

And since my analysis also peels back how teams perform away and at home here’s the info for those categories as well.

Away 48.07% versus Home 45.78%.

Without going further it would appear that the Impact looked to cede possession a bit more at home than on the road – that being said, given the high GAPG (2.00) on the road that higher percentage of possession might be deceiving.

The most reliable way to eliminate wasted possession is to look at passing accuracy and passing volume within and into the Attacking Final Third versus Outside the Attacking Final Third.

In away matches Montreal averaged 94 passes within and into the Final Third from 397 average passes attempted; when playing at home those figures are 93 and 405.

Knowing those figures let’s move on to Passing Accuracy to see what differences there were.

Passing Accuracy:

Overall 76.41%.  12th highest or 8th worst (glass half full – half empty?)   However viewed their passing accuracy was not the best – and the lower the overall passing accuracy the less likely the team will possess the ball for greater lengths of time.

Shorter passing tactics usually mean more passing – great examples include FC Bayern, Barcelona, Chelsea, Galaxy, etc…

Away 75.93% versus Home 76.90%

In away matches passing accuracy within and into the Final Third was 58.96%; while at home it was 62.01%; higher at home – in truth that’s probably 5 more passes completed at home versus on the road.

So… that three percent higher amount of possession, on the road versus at home, was probably down to wasted possession.

In other words they possessed the ball more on the road due to passes being completed outside the attacking final third – not inside the attacking final third.

Penetrating Possession:

Overall 18.36%; the worst percentage of penetrating possession in MLS this year.

In away games their successful penetrating possession with 18.23% while for home games it was 18.49%

Looked at from a different angle – the potential penetrating possession target would have been 24% if successful on all attempts – but they weren’t.

Most probably meaning the passes, attempting to penetrate the attacking final third, were probably harder to complete.

For many that usually indicates a direct attacking approach; i.e. playing longer balls on a more frequent basis.

It might also intuit a less accurate counter-attacking style – (perhaps?) meaning the players being asked to play to a particular style weren’t skilled enough in that style – or…………. the Head Coach chose the wrong tactical approach given the skill level of players on the pitch???

Or… the Head Coach had no choice but to play to that style given the skill levels of players on his team.  But!  Frank Klopas also played that style with Chicago…  so was it by choice given the players – or was it by choice given the inclination of the Head Coach to play direct attacking football?

Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession:

Overall 21.37% – the highest percentage of shots taken per penetrating possession in MLS!

Away games 22.01% (worst/best?) Home games 20.73% (3rd worst/best?)

What this is showing is that they had the worst penetrating possession in MLS and the highest percentage of shots taken per penetrating possession.

In other words they were terrible when it came to penetration and they compounded that ‘terribleness’ by showing no patience what-so-ever in taking shots.

Another nail in the Direct attacking coffin – AGAIN – speaking to either having the wrong style/skill level of players playing a direct attacking tactic – or… the Head Coach played the wrong tactics given the skills of his players?

Shots on Goal per Shots Taken:

Overall 36.49% (8th highest)

Away games 35.17% (12th highest) Home games 37.82% (8th highest)

With the high percentage of shots taken per penetration and then a significant drop in shots on goal, given that high percentage, it again reinforces that the Montreal Impact were taking far too many shots that had no real value.

I’m not sure of their shot location selection but this pattern has been seen before with teams like Houston, Chicago, Chivas, and other bottom dwellers…  in this case I’d also offer their strikers were probably less patient on the ball in finding good open space and time to take better shots.

Goals Scored per Shots on Goal:

Overall 30.22% (10th highest)

Away games 24.60% (5th lowest) Homes games 35.83% (8th highest).

Not bad at home – but not good on the road.  Reinforcing that the road tactics were worse in getting results than the home tactics.

Attacking summary:

In away games the percentages just get worse and worse – yet they possessed the ball more in away games.

In my view that is pretty much confirming that this team gained no value in having more possession of the ball in away games.

Indeed, I’d offer that they had the wrong tactical approach – throughout the entire season – just like Houston!

As for at home, clearly less possession worked – but they still averaged just 1.41 GPG (5th worst)… meaning that same direct attacking approach was just as ineffective at home.

So – (perhaps?) a more brutal assessment of the Impact is that, in attack, they were ineffective not only in results but in team performance.

Meaning, in my opinion, they either had the wrong style of players to play a direct attacking tactic or they had the wrong tactical approach by the Head Coach.

If thinking about finances… would it be cheaper to find a new Head Coach that will use a more appropriate attacking tactic, to fit the players on the team, or would it be cheaper to bring in a whole new suite of attackers to fit a direct attacking tactic that is way past its shelf-life!

Defending PWP Strategic Index:


Third worst in MLS.

A few thoughts before the details:

With a 2.00 GAPG in away games and a 1.41 GAPG in home games does it seem reasonable that the Impact didn’t have enough players behind the ball, even with a direct attacking approach?

Or does it seem reasonable that the Head Coach have a defensive tactical approach that was pear-shaped?

Before attempting to answer those questions here’s the bottom line on how the opponent performed against Montreal this year:

Opponent Possession Percentage: 53.08% (5th highest)

Opponent Passing Accuracy: 79.50% (2nd highest)

Opponent Penetrating Possession: 22.88% (10th highest) – Opponent Passing Accuracy within and into the Defending Final Third 67.58% (highest).

Opponent Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession: 17.25% (12th highest)

Opponent Shots on Goal per Shots Taken: 38.63% (4th highest)

Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal: 31.63% (12th highest)

So those are the percentages against – how about the volume against?

Opponents of Montreal averaged 456 passes per game (2nd highest).

They also faced the 5th highest volume of passes within and into their Defending Final Third (123 per game).

In terms of shots taken against – 13.47 (8th highest).

Shots on goal against 5.26 (2nd highest).

Defending summary:

Across the entire spectrum of defending the opponents pretty much possessed the ball when they needed to and had plenty of time and space to make accurate passes; not only outside the Defending Final Third – but inside as well.

That freedom of time and space allowed the opponent more patience in taking better shots that were more often on goal and resulted in more goals scored against.

Given the poor team team performance, and poor results, I’d offer this team needs at least 3-4 new defensive minded players.

In going back to the initial questions about not having enough players behind the ball – it would seem to me, given the high volume and high percentages against, the Impact didn’t have enough players behind the ball.

But the interesting thing is that with a more direct attacking tactic you’d think the Impact would have more players behind the ball because fewer players are used in that attacking tactic!?!

So what went wrong?

In Closing:

I’d offer (perhaps too harshly?) that the tactical approach (in attacking and defending by the Head Coach) is what went wrong.

How can a team have, statistical team performance wise AND results performance wise, so many weaknesses with roughly the same players that made the playoffs the previous season under different leadership?

Easy – the front office made a bad decision in sacking  Marco Schällibaum.

For me this is another great example of how losing organizations, in the front office, fail to hire Head Coaches who are flexible in their attacking and defending tactics.

Frank Klopas is not only the Head Coach but the Director of Player Personnel, meaning his direct attacking style will not only manifest itself on the pitch it will also manifest itself within the bowels of the organization!

While I’m not an Impact ‘hater’ I really have to ask myself how I could continue to support a team like this if I lived near St. Catherine Street in the heart of Montreal.  And yes, I do know the city a wee bit having proposed to my missus, in 1987, at the Old Munich Beer Barrell Hall on St. Denis Street.

In case you missed it – here’s my other MLS End of Season Analysis:

Chicago Fire – Candle Burned at Both Ends

Houston Dynamo – Dynamic Dynamo De-Magnetized as Dominic Departs

San Jose Earthquakes – Earthquakes, Shake, Rattle, and Roll-Over

Best, Chris

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You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp

Dynamic Dynamo De-Magnetized as Dominic Departs

In the next installment of my End of Season analyses here’s my look at the Houston Dynamo. 

Last week I offered my End of Season analysis on the Chicago Fire (found here:) Candle Burned at Both Ends.

Previous to that I offered up my two part series on the Portland Timbers here (Defense) and here (Attacking).

This is the second article I’ve offered up on Houston this year – my earlier article can be found here:  Disheveled Defense has Dominic’s Dynamo in Disarray.

After working through the info I’ll offer my thoughts, for consideration, on some changes that may need to happen to make this team more competitive.

Like every installment I’ll lead with this Diagram – my Composite Possession with Purpose (CPWP) Index:


If you see a pattern in my approach this year – you’re right – I’ll be working from worst to first excluding the eye-sore – Chivas USA.  No point in my view – Wilbur Cabrera no doubt did the best job he could but since the organization is toast it’s best this black-eye of the MLS Franchise is laid to rest as quickly as possible.

Note that Houston (HDFC) finished third bottom in the Composite Index – pretty much meaning that both their attacking and defending team performance was weak.

The correlation (R2) of this Index to average points earned in MLS is .85.

Now for the Grist… points per game both home and away for Houston this year.

On the Road Houston averaged .65 Points per Game (PPG) 4th worst in MLS  – at home 1.65 PPG  10th best in MLS.

Overall – Houston averaged 1.15 PPG – 6th worst in MLS.

So from a team performance standpoint – dead on average when it came to performing at home this year – the killer, in putting them near bottom, was their road performance.

When looking into the team performance indicators of PWP I’ll make it a special point to peel back home and away outputs.  For now they had eight wins at home with three wins on the road.

It would appear that their inability to get a draw on the road was a stumbling block – just 2 draws to go with three wins – otherwise they lost 12 road games this year…

In those 12 road losses they scored just four goals, in their two road draws – they didn’t score any goals.

Even more pear-shaped is that four of their 12 goals, on the road, came in one game against Chivas USA!  They simply didn’t get results on the road!

Can you say new strikers for next year?

Perhaps – but it’s not all about just striking the ball, there’s passing accuracy, penetration, and as things are beginning to show, patience…

Bottom line here, they really couldn’t score or win on the road…  

Team Performance – first up – given their inability to score goals on the road – Attacking PWP:


Given just four goals scored in their 12 losses and only .71 Goals per Game, on the road as a whole – it shouldn’t be surprising that they fell that low in the Attacking PWP Index.  Kind of makes you wonder about San Jose (2nd worst) and them bringing on Dominic Kinnear to turn that attacking ship around?!?

However viewed there’s six team performance indicators that make up this Index so were they all bad, across the board, or just in finishing?

Possession Percentage:

All told – 48.95% – (9th highest) with Home possession 50.61% and Road possession 47.34%.

Not enough information to really pick out if their home and road styles were different – but enough information to warrant a closer look at volume both inside and outside the final third.

The overall volume of passes offered up at home was 417 per game – while on the road 397 per game – about 20 passes per game fewer.

That 20 passes per game more, at Home, only translated to 6 more passes per game in the Attacking Final Third (117 at home vs 111 on the road).

Again – not a great difference so more data is needed. 

Passing Accuracy:

All told – 76.54% – (11th highest) with Home accuracy 77.41% and Road accuracy 75.68%.

Overall their passing accuracy appeared to suffer on the road versus at home; but neither were particularly good compared to the rest of MLS.

We already know their volume of passes decreased on the road as well – so as their volume decreased their accuracy decreased.

That doesn’t usually follow but I think we saw that trait with Chicago as well – as volume decreased accuracy decreased…

For the Portland Timbers the opposite was true – as volume decreased accuracy increased.

So that relationship seems pretty pear-shaped to me…

I suppose there can be any number of reasons why this might occur – for me, I’d offer at least one observation – with decreased passing and decreased possession they may have been playing more difficult (longer) passes given less control of the game; i.e – showing less patience.  

Penetration per Possession:

All told – 23.82% (5th highest) with Home penetration 24.38% and Road penetration 23.25%

For the most part, in doing this analysis for two years now – a higher percentage of penetration per possession is not that good with a lower passing accuracy percentage.

What that higher number appears to indicate is less patience (with lower overall passing accuracy) and with that less patience in penetration their is usually a corresponding increase in the volume of shots – but the accuracy of those shots is usually lower.

Which then translates to fewer shots on goal and fewer goals scored.

For now, I’d offer that Houston attempted to penetrate with more frequency compared to having less possession – some might say this indicates a more direct attacking style as well.

When looking at the percentage of passes completed, in the Final Third, the Dynamo were accurate 62.44% of the time on the road (7th worst), 67.43% at home (7th best) and 64.94% overall.

Given the lower passing accuracy, and lower volume, as we know from earlier, I’d offer the Dynamo looked to play more direct on the road, and slightly less direct at home.

Put another way (perhaps?) – they were less patient on the road than at home.

Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession:

All told – 18.83% (5th highest)  with Home at 19.72% and Road at 17.93%

So 5th highest in both penetrating possession and shots taken per penetration.

As noted above then, the first two trends match other low performers – more penetration usually means more shots per penetration when passing accuracy is on the lower end of the scale.

What’s also interesting is that these last two indicators were lower for Road games than Home games.

And, at the same time, Home games saw the Dynamo more accurate in their passing.

Meaning, it’s likely there is more to their road attacking weakness than strikers; the question taking shape for me do those weaknesses also include lack of good midfielders, or worse yet, a completely pear-shaped away game tactical style?

Shots on Goal per Shots Taken:

We already know that the magic number for most teams, to win in the top leagues, is at least 5-6 Shots on Goal; (read here if not convinced).

For Houston they averaged 33.05% (2nd worst) in this category with Home 34.80% and Road 31.30%.

So the pattern of, less percentages from gaining possession, on-wards, means less percentages all the way through when the Dynamo are on the Road, compared to Home.

And with that percentage being 2nd worst in MLS it’s worthy to check what the average volumes are as well.

Shots Taken (13.29 – Home = 14.49 – Road = 11.65) 10th best overall.

Shots on Goal (4.53 – Home = 5.18 – Road = 3.88)  12th best overall.

Let’s not forget they won eight games at home – so that target of 5.18 seems reasonable.

A couple of things here – if it’s just strikers then chances are the target of 5.18 shots on goal at home is not reached and with 3.88 shots on goal on the road as well, it’s pretty likely that the – so I’d offer it’s more than just strikers.

Bottom line here; before looking at the Goals Scored I’d offer that the consistency in poor passing accuracy, overzealous approach in penetration and shot creation is down to poor midfield play and poor team tactics as opposed to just weaknesses in strikers.

Goals Scored per Shots on Goal:

With over 5.18 Shots on Goal per game at Home the Dynamo should have averaged over 2.00 goals per game – but they didn’t.

So for me that does mean strikers are also accountable for the poor attacking performance.

All told their team performance percentage was 22.14% – the worst in MLS.  Home was 30.19% (8th worst) and Road was 14.08% – a full 16% points below the league average.

In summary:

They not only had poor performance when it came to striking (even at home their overall performance was below average) they were horrendous on the road.

Team road performance percentages (REGULARLY) were lower (in percentage and by volume) across the board, in every single category.

Clearly pointing, in my opinion, to a tactical strategy that was wrong – never-mind the perceived or real weaknesses in their strikers.

If Dominic Kinnear thinks he’s going to be able to take a failed tactical attacking road strategy, in the East, and expect to have it win out West (in a far tougher conference) he needs to rethink.

And San Jose really need to consider what investments will be needed to have Dominic Kinnear transform the 2nd worst attacking team in MLS, when their new Head Coach just completed a year in Houston where his tactical approach led to the third worst attacking team performance in MLS.

Now with those brutal thoughts out of the way for Attack – here’s how the Dynamo performed in Defending PWP:


Not quite as ugly on the defending side of the pitch – but still 6th worst, overall, in MLS.

Opponent Possession Percentage:

All told – 51.02% – we already know based upon their attacking possession percentage the opponent possessed the ball more often than the Dynamo.

That’s not a bad thing for some teams – New England, Vancouver, DC United, and FC Dallas all made the playoffs where the opponent possessed the ball more than they did.

In that, I’d offer the rubber will meet the road a bit later as we dig in on the defensive end.

Opponent Passing Accuracy:

All told 78.47% (4th highest) with Home 77.34% and Road 79.59%.

Not much to draw on without looking into some volumes – so Total Passes faced was 426.03 per game; 9th fewest in MLS – at Home opponents passed 401 times per game – versus when on the road – that number increased by almost 50 passes per game (448.94).

Pretty much indicating to me the Dynamo ceded possession as well as a considerably higher number of overall passes; especially when facing opponents on the road.

Still not enough to draw a conclusion, one way or the other, about weaker play or tactics.

Opponent Penetration per Possession:

All told – 22.19% (12th best) with Home 20.78% and Road 23.59%.

When playing on the Road the opponents (at home) penetrated roughly 3% more of the time than visiting Houston.

The percentage of passing within and into the Houston defending final third was 67.26% on the road and 62.68% at home.

More penetration by opponents when Houston played on the road and better accuracy for the opponents as well.

In considering the opponent volumes, the average number of passes, within and into the defending final third, was 112.65 per game.

Opponents visiting Houston averaged 102 per game. compared to 122.63 when Houston visited them.

An increase in volume by nearly 20 passes per game when on the road.

So far, that means both the volume and accuracy of the opponent, when entertaining Houston got better the closer they got to the Houston goal.

With that I’d expect Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession and Shots on Goals percentages to drop somewhat – reinforcing that as teams did gain penetration they were more likely to show more patience in shots taken – resulting in increased goals scored.

However viewed, I’d offer that the tactics on the road, against the opponent, were not the same as those employed at home.  By volume alone, I’d offer that Houston played slightly higher up the pitch (defensively) at home, and slightly deeper on the road.  My rationale for that comes after doing my analysis on Philadelphia and Portland this year – both teams showed these trends, in volume, and percentages, when playing deeper versus more shallow.

Opponent Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession:

All told 19.91% (4th worst) with Home 22.16% (2nd worst) and Road 17.67% (13th worst).

In other words the opponent’s were taking more shots per penetrating possession than opponents against other teams.

What’s interesting is that the percentage for opponents, when Houston played them on the road, dropped – in other words the opponents took fewer shots per penetrating possession.

This is an indicator that the opponents were more frugal with their shot selection – meaning, usually, they sought more time and space in order to increase the end results – accuracy in having shots on goal – score goals.

The higher percentage at Home could mean that the Dynamo were more likely to hurry their opponent into taking shots – with eight wins at home that shouldn’t be surprising.

However viewed, the trends indicating a different tactical approach, given opponent outputs, still continues to show itself in the data.

Opponent Shots on Goal per Shots Taken:

All told 34.90% (6th best) with Home 34.25% and Road 35.55%.

Their average volume of shots on goal, against, is 5th highest in MLS and the average Goals Against was 1.58 (6th highest in MLS).

So regardless of what tactic was employed the opponent’s were finding ways to put their shots on goal.

When on the road, the opponent averages 1.81 goals against Houston – 3rd worst (highest) in MLS.

Meaning, even with decreased shots taken (by percentage) and decreased shots on goal (by percentage) the opponents were pretty accurate.

So in the case of Houston, a perceived deeper line in defending (in away games) did not reduce goals against – it increased goals against.

So the tactic successfully employed by both Philadelphia and Portland did not pan out for Houston.

This could mean any number of things but I’d offer at least two thoughts; 1) the defensive tactic on the road was the wrong defensive tactic (all year), and 2) adding both a central midfielder and left fullback did not heal the wounds, meaning more player personnel moves are likely when viewing the defending side of the pitch.  And yes, I did take a look to see if there were differences in volume or percentage from game one to game 34 – I didn’t see any either viewing the total or just away/home games.

In Closing:

I’d offer the move to change Head Coaches was probably going to happen even if Dominic Kinnear didn’t show his intentions of moving to San Jose.

I’d also offer there could be at least 4-6 new starters for this team next year.  At least one new striker, two new midfielders, two new defenders, plus, we already know, there will be a new Goal Keeper.

I’d also offer there are indicators showing that the overall tactical approach, on the road, was pear-shaped – if Dominic Kinnear expects to use that same approach in San Jose, without some minor upgrades in players, compared to this year, he may have issues.

And he certainly needs to reconsider what road attacking style he adopts as well – with San Jose being 2nd worst in these same categories, across the board, he may have major goal scoring issues.

Finally, some teams seemed to have improved their goals against by playing deeper – while with Houston that does not appear to be the case.  What appears to work for some, might not work for others; it’s a funny game this is.

Best, Chris

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English Premier League – Top Totties – Week 5 in Review

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

What on earth is going on at Man United?

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

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

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

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

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

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

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

So how about Chelsea and Southampton?

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

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

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

APWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

APWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

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

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

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

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

A few other observations before moving on to DPWP:

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

DPWP Strategic Index:

DPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

DPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Closing: 

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

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

Best, Chris

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