Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Big Ripple: 6th October Premier League Round-up

Bit of a humdrum week with a raft of expected results and a lack of wow goals & mad drama.  The overall shots total was the lowest since week one with only the Man Utd v Everton game providing a par total of shots & a degree of excitement on the Sunday & Saturday's fixtures failing to fire the imagination.  But none of that will stop us finding interesting vignettes to comment upon, so let's scratch beneath the surface.

League table

Man Utd have had a terrible start to the season and are deservedly... er... 4th? What?
Stoke have been pretty decent so far & have excellent underlying numbers and are deservedly... er... 16th? Say again?

It's seven games and it's clear that position doesn't count for much with 3 points separating the Gaalacticos and Stoke but it's fascinating how the league has clustered together so far  Rest assured, as we move forward, teams deemed to have had bad starts will gravitate towards the top and the Aston Villas of the world will drift south.  Anyway, in week 3 I put up an 'alternative underlying' league table & now that it finally resembles a reality I concur with, I thought i'd wheel it out again.  Man City's one-sided triumph against Villa & Chelsea's victory against Arsenal has tipped the balance in favour of common sense so here it is:

1 Man City
2 Chelsea
3 Arsenal
4 Southampton
5 Liverpool
6 Man Utd
7 Stoke
8 Everton
9 Tottenham
10 West Ham
11 WBA
12 Newcastle
13 Swansea
14 Sunderland
15 Hull
16 Palace
17 QPR
18 Burnley
19 Leicester
20 Aston Villa

Seriously though, one week Man Utd were top, and that just didn't seem right; it was too soon, and probably still is, but we are seeing the better teams consistently put in stronger performances than the lesser teams, entirely as you would expect.  What can we pull out of this table?
  • QPR are bad but not worst.  They deserved a little more from their home fixtures & have created enough to have done better.  Away from home they've been awful.
  • By and large Stoke have a decent defence; they've given up a league low rate of shots on target but have lost twice without making a save.  They're converting shots at 6% though, which is grim & explanatory.
  • Villa were bad when they were winning, now they are losing, they are equally bad.
  • Everton are now a true Martinez team; there is a lot good about them but the results are poor.
  • Tottenham are 9th best?
  • Man City are better than Chelsea. I think.
Obligatory Tottenham bit: are they are 9th best?

Earlier in the week I wrote something examining how Tottenham aren't shooting enough & the main reason for this is that the front 4, who have consistently been Lamela, Eriksen, Chadli and Adebayor, do not have a record of frequent shooting & their historical shot totals bear this out.  Despite their obvious qualities, this fundamental issue is hampering Tottenham's creativity and has lead to their being outshot as a team this season.  Mixed results have followed.

Facing a Southampton team who have been giving up league low shots totals was sure to be a sound test, notwithstanding the STORYLINE about Pochettino.  Halfway through the game, my premise was on shaky ground: Tottenham had taken 7 shots, were leading & were seemingly in control.  For the first time this season, we were reliably witnessing the hard press & the game was being played at a crazy pace, something that was underlined by noticeably low pass completion rates for both teams.  It seemed as though Pochettino, confident that his new team was superior than his old team had decided to simply outgun them, and at this point it was working.

However, the second half was slightly different and rather than attempt to describe, i'll let this tweet from the excellent Cartilage Free Captain blog explain:

There were maybe 2 Tottenham shots in the second half? I say maybe because one was Eric Dier kinda falling over.  Still, the energy was there but it wasn't translating into anything offensively damaging and the luck had to hold out when Mané choked away a sitter late on.

So a good result & 'something to build on', but problems remain; they've been 9th best but should at least be looking upwards & a lot in this performance was better than what we've seen before.  Hopefully the next game will see the good parts of this game translated into a wider dominance but then again, maybe not:  it's Man City away.  I expect us to sit, break at pace & defend. A lot.

Non-scientific method of determining potential goalscorers

During the World Cup I noticed a few players that had taken a ton of shots but had failed to score.  Sure enough, as they played again, a fair percentage of them went on to score. So far, so unscientific.  The current conversion rate for shots in the league is about 11% (unless you are Diego Costa) and by my reckoning 21 players have had 15 or more shots.  Of these players only 4 haven't scored:

Craig Gardner
Dusan Tadic
Lukas Jutkiewicz


These poor souls could all score soon, but before anyone starts wagering on these outcomes, I can tell you it took Cesc Fabregas 62 shots to score in 06/07 and Yannick Bolasie had 48 shots last year for nothing...

I've got a theory about why Liverpool signed Balotelli, beyond the fact that he was comparatively cheap and potentially good:  I think Rodgers wanted a pure shooter in the ranks to replace Suarez.  Both Balotelli & Suarez are 5+ shot a game players & such levels are rare.  Of course, right now with Mario launching efforts from 'Hail Mary' range and not scoring, it doesn't look great, but he's getting a fair percentage of shots on target & is surely due a slice of luck.  Here's his last 3 games, adapted from Stats Zone:
So yeah, go Mario!

Stat shorts

  • Unlike recently, Mile 'The Wall' Jedinak was not a match winner this week & hit a season low 6 T&Is
  • Milner 8KPs
  • McArthur 8 tackles
  • Ivanovic with the week high 11 T&Is
  • Big week for Wenger: 1 push, lots of complants & a sour expression
  • Di Maria ran the Man Utd attack with a goal & an assist from 6 shots and 5KPs plus 4 dribbles, 3 interceptions and 19 crosses.  He's a welcome addition to this league.
Thanks for reading!


The horror of international week is upon us once more so why not give yourself something to do by reading my Adventures in Football Data 1: Fabregas and assists hopefully the first in a new series of numbersy blogs or if you missed the link in the text, why don't you let me tell you why Tottenham's shot count is so low?

And make sure you check back regularly for more content!

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