West Ham’s Season

West Ham have had a funny up and down season. A devastating injury crisis during a tough run of the schedule caused West Ham’s shots numbers to decline dramatically. That terrible decline in shots +/- wasn’t helped by a dip in PDO and all of this information led to a collapse in West ham’s points form.

Here is that story in 4 graphs:



Three sections here.

First 13 games: West Ham had a shots plus/minus of 0 at Total, -1 at tied and +6 at Close.

Games 14 to 23: West Ham went -149 at Total, -99 at Tied and -125 at Close.

Games 24 to 33: West ham went -84 at Total, -6 at Tied and -42 at Close.

That is three distinct sections of performance which were driven by injury, non-injury and probably some schedule quirks. First section is pretty good and a ~50% shots team. Second section is abysmal. Third section is driven by some score effects with West ham spending some time winning and likely sitting off against certain opponents.




A gradual dip and then recovery but not much here to focus on.



From game week 12 to about game week 24 West ham were just beasted by a severe injury crisis which had a pretty big effect on their ability to control games and outshoot the opposition. West Ham’s injury crisis fits somewhat with that middle section of terrible shots performance that we see in Graph 1.


Add all this information together and we likely understand West Ham’s Points progress and its quirks a little better than we did before:




Cardiff & MacKay

I saw this tweet a couple of days ago and just now I was able to dig it out.

Paul Kelso, Sports Correspondent for Sky TV:


Mr Kelso says that “no-one will beat Cardiff for a self-defeating managerial change”, thing is Cardiff were terrible under Malky Mackay, who was replaced after 18 games of the 13/14 season. Now, Mackay was able to put 17 points on the board in his 18 games in charge and that is an expected return for a newly promoted side, Cardiff have since recorded just 9 points in their subsequent 15 games. So on the face of it Mackay was doing a sterling job and the sacking was unjust etc etc.

If we are to judge Mackay solely on his points totals during his time in charge then we are focusing only on the outcome and not the processes. Yes, Cardiff under Mackay were rolling along at a decent points per game clip but those points were won not because of sound fundamentals like outshooting the opposition, instead those points were won due to an insanely high PDO.

ImagePDO is save% + scoring% and it regresses heavily toward the mean of 100. PDO tends to be luck driven and volatile, a high PDO over a small number of games gives us the impression that teams are performing really well and “deserve” their wins/points. High PDO’s can also cover for some poor fundamentals, like, say, the ability to outshoot your opponents, and those high PDO’s can fool us into believing a manager may be doing a decent job.

This brings us back to Mackay. Mackay’s Cardiff were being butchered by the shots and shots on target count from game 1 all the way through to game 18. Cardiff were taking ~37% of the shots and ~31% of the shots on target. Those are terrible numbers. League average is 50%, the best teams post ~65%. A shots share percentage in the 30′s is fucking terrible.

Knowing that those underlying fundamentals were terrible, what would give us the impression that Mackay was doing a good job and was full worth for those 17 points? A high PDO that enabled Cardiff’s Goal% to sit way above where their shots numbers suggested it should be. That high Goal%, driven by that high PDO, powered Cardiff to those early season points hauls, but the terrible shots fundamentals remained the same. Mackay was unable to coach Cardiff to take more shots and concede fewer. Once the PDO cooled the Goal% cooled and then the points dried up.

Mackay’s team was badly outshot during his 18 Premier League games and once the hot streaks of save% and scoring% dried up, as they were always likely to, what your left with is a team that cannot control games, are hemmed in their own end, and outscored – a bad team. A bad team because it either had bad systems or not enough talent, or both.

Mackay was lucky to be fired when he was – a reputation left relatively intact in no small part thanks to a high PDO.

TSR (Shots Share%)

tsr 33



Arsenal: The Sadness Continues….

I’ve been poking around Arsenal’s form over the last 12 hours and It’s starting to get a little boring creating graphs which show the myriad ways in which their season has slowly crumbled. This will be the last graph for now; it shows Arsenal’s average minutes per game spent in a winning/drawing/losing position as the season has progressed:


This is not good. Win time has fallen off a cliff and draw time and loss time have taken its place. You really want your team to spend as much time as possible in a winning position – game control, the advantages of score effects – so this chart, which tells us a little about Arsenal’s sked and injury list, makes for pretty sad viewing.

Cyndi’ll make it feel better….

Freak Out: Arsenal

Two graphs, and a few words on Arsenal’s situation.

Arsenal’s Points Graph


That points line isn’t pretty: a tough schedule, injuries, Arsenal not shooting enough and a collapse in their way-above-league-average-save% (shock-fucking-horror) has led to Arsenal crashing from 1st place (week 24) to 4th (week 33).

Strange to be talking about Arsenal only getting top 4 after leading the league for most of the season, but this was likely Arsenal’s level all along, folks just got fooled by the perfect storm of easy sked, low injuries and save% that was orbiting the fucking moon.

None of this talk of top 4 should be a problem for Arsenal what with United being historically terrible and Tottenham replacing a good manager with a non-manager.

But then along came big  bad streaking Everton!

ImageEverton are catching Arsenal but have a tough sked to contend with. Everton are posting better shots on target numbers than Arsenal, their respective TSR’s are virtually identical and the Toffee’s have a game in hand while trailing by just the one point.

Things could get really bad/sad/fun/___ for Arsenal fans if they fail to get a top 4 spot. Just think of it: top after 24 games then a brutally painful death slide down the table and pipped for fourth place on the last day. PDO regresses and it is regressing at just the wrong time for Arsenal. PDO is a funny thing. It ran hot for Arsenal last year in that decisive run in, this year it is running cold.

A once high PDO was covering for some of Arsenal, and Arsene’s, weaknesses, now that beautiful PDO wave has crested and crashed and it is rolling back. As that wave rolls back it uncovers some dirty truths about this Arsenal team: too injured, declining shots fundamentals, inertia in the transfer market, unsigned contracts and fans who may lose their minds if they are pipped for 4th place. Then again Arsenal, by skill or by luck, will likely do just enough to get 4th place. But that will only cover the same weaknesses that seem to be more visible with each passing year.


PDO: Coach Killer

One graph:


Black dots indicate teams that have canned their managers at some point this season. AvB was posting strong (and better than 58%) shots number when he was fired for reasons we shall never know about. Maybe he walked, who knows. The rest of those black dots were posting <50% TSR numbers and sub-par PDO’s.

If your team takes less than 50% of the shots over its fixtures and posts a PDO of less than 100 then you end up in the bottom left of that chart up there. No manager wants to be in that bottom left quadrant, that’s where jobs are lost and careers derailed. The teams in that bottom left quadrant are shit and unl*%$@. It is the manager death zone, and just two managers remain……..Bruce and Lambert.

One Minute Reads: Historic Points Totals & Goal Difference

What Have I Done?

I have taken the last 11 seasons (10 completed and the 13/14 season) of Premier League data on points totals and goal difference and put them into a scatter plot. I have projected the 13/14 final standings using points per game and goal difference per game.


I wanted to see what the spread of points and goal difference performance looked like for the last 11 years and which, if any, of the 220 seasons I have on record stand out as truly exceptional or truly godawful.

What Can We Gain From It?

Not a lot, this is trivia! But we can see just how special Man City and Liverpool are projected to be. The graph also captures how spectacularly bad some of the weaker Premier League teams have been. Also, Fulham and Cardiff are shaping up to be two of the worst teams in the last 10 or so years.

The Graph

historic pts gd

The Good

Man City and Liverpool of this years vintage are on course to post the best two goal difference seasons of the last 11 years. City’s and Liverpool’s goal difference (and Points) totals are simple projections and may not be too accurate come the seasons end.

The Bad

My Lord Derby County were bad. As were Sunderland, as were Portsmouth. Fulham are on course to post the worst goal difference of the last 11 years, Cardiff the 3rd worst. The projected points totals for this years garbage aren’t much better.

The Odd

Everton qualified for the Champions League in 2004/05 with a -1 goal difference. Everton won 18 drew 7 lost 13 for 61 points. What the hell was going on that year? Another indication of a crazy season: Bolton finished 6th that year tied on points with the winner of the Champions League.


Football Statistics


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.