Oh, David!

I reckon, by my quick count, I could post somewhere between 8 or 10 pieces of information on how and where Moyes fucked up this Man United team:

  • Broke Man United’s attacking scheme causing them to be a below average shots team.
  • Abandoned Ferguson’s effective shelling tactics.
  • Couldn’t repeat the excellent SoTR numbers posted under Ferguson.
  • Turned man United into a subpar shots team at Tied.
  • Wiped out Man United’s ferocious shooting volume when trailing.
  • Changed attacking set piece schemes which had worked.
  • Changed defensive set piece schemes which had worked.
  • Overworked and injured RvP and Rooney.

There’ll be 3 or 4 others if I would think about it some more.

All those issues and more added up to a points trajectory that was off pace all season long:


The only shame about this Moyes episode is that he wasn’t fired sooner. Moyes’ tactical schemes weren’t working and it was resulting in embarrassing performances which led to embarrassing results. The points trend was off target for a long, long time. The wrong man was likely given too much time. Good organizations sometimes make poor personnel hires, but those good organizations usually realize their errors pretty quickly and rectify the mistake.

Maybe Man United rectified their initial mistake today, but this sorry episode felt like it went on far too long. A coach was posting poor  fundamentals, considering the talent and money he had, and he wasn’t getting lucky enough in terms of PDO to cover his shitty systems and keep in the hunt for the top 4.

A lost season wasted on a man who proved he wasn’t good enough for the job. The next hire is starting to feel absolutely crucial.

Injury & Usage: Man City & Liverpool

Comparing teams injury records has recently become a thing on twitter. “Man City have been unlucky with injuries”, “fire the physio”, “europe causes injuries” cry the same Man City fans who then go on to say Liverpool have suffered no injuries and that is why they are currently top. Liverpool fans say that they too have suffered a good few injuries and that City’s squad, so much larger than Liverpool’s should be able to cope.

Let’s see if we can answer some of the questions and statements currently doing the rounds.

Do teams that play in Europe suffer more injuries?




*This is an old graph, note the y axis is shortened. I was stupid 1 year ago.



So teams that play in europe tend to suffer more injuries according to the data I collect. That this happens isn’t surprising. Teams who play in europe play more games at higher intensity with fewer recovery days inbetween games. Bodies break down due to frequency of games and lack of rest. If your team plays in europe then it is likely to lose more man games to injury than a team who doesn’t play in europe.

Do Man City Have a much bigger squad than Liverpool?

Not true. According to transfermarkt.de Man City have 24 senior proffesionals (3 GK’s) and Liverpool have 22 (2 GK’s). The squad players – players 18-23 in the batting order – for both clubs are lightly used, for whatever reasons, despite the transfer fee’s paid for those players.

Which Club Suffers More Injuries?

Well, it’s close to a dead heat. Liverpool have played one game than City.


*Injury data scraped from a famous dataprovider website. Previews and game reviews are checked and injury totals counted per game. There may well be issues with undercounting by said website or certain teams not disclosing details on injured players (Chelsea).

Man City fans are crazy to complain about injuries. Yes, City have suffered injuries to high profile and important players but the total number of games lost could have been much worse. Arsenal’s number is bordering on the criminal and has been for years. System training or overworking issues are responsible for some of Arsenal’s issues.

So City and Liverpool have suffered the same number of injuries but the distribution of those injuries between squad players and key players and certain positions within each squad varies.

Which Players Get Injured For Man City & Liverpool?

I could trawl back through the data and work out which positions have suffered the most injuries but it seems far too time consuming right now. Instead we’ll use the following charts as proxies:

Man City

City have a core (>60% time on pitch%) of 7 players: 2 center mids, 2 wide attacking players, a right back and 2 center backs. Zero forwards. Only Dzeko has featured more than the simple squad average of 47.5% of minutes.

Player Total
Zabaleta 88.9
Toure 85.4
Fernandinho 81.1
Nasri 70.1
Demichelis 67.6
Kompany 65.5
Silva 65.2
Navas 58.1
Negredo 55.9
Kolarov 55
Dzeko 54.1
Clichy 51.4
Average 47.5
Aguero 43.5
Garcia 38.5
Milner 36.6
Nastasic 33.6
Lescott 25.7
Jovetic 11.3
Richards 5.2
Rodwell 3.7
Boyata 1.8


Now look how that contrasts with Liverpool’s data.


8 players >60% ToP%.  2 defenders, 3 midfielders, 3 forwards. Johnson, Skrtel, Coutinho, Henderson, Gerrard, Sterling, Suarez and STurridge.  That is Liverpool’s core and it has remained relatively untouched this season with, especially, Henderson, Skrtel, Suarez and Gerrard playing north of 80% of Liverpool’s league minutes.

Player ToP%
Henderson 96.5
Skrtel 93.7
Suarez 85.5
Gerrard 83.3
Johnson 71.3
Coutinho 69.5
Sturridge 65.7
Sterling 62.3
Lucas 55.2
Flanagan 53.2
Average 49.8
Toure 45.8
Agger 42.3
Sakho 41.2
Allen 38.3
Cissoko 33.2
Moses 20.5
Enrique 19.2
Aspas 11.8
Alberto 4.6
Kelly 3.6


Liverpool and Man City may have suffered similar numbers of injuries this season, despite one team facing the far heavier workload in terms of games played. All the injury numbers are very similar, the way each squad has been affected by thse injuries is different.

Liverpool’s core, especially the midfield and forward group, have all played over 60% of league minutes whilst Liverpool’s defense has suffered through injuries and absence.

Conversely, City doesn’t have a single one of its 4 forwards having played over 60% of the minutes, but City has relatively good health from Toure, Fernandinho and the creative wide players. Zabaleta is a near ever present, whilst Kompany and Demichelis clear 60% of the minutes played.

Not all of the minutes missed are solely due to injury, some players are rotated for tactical or maintenance reasons (Dzeko, Kolarov, Sterling, Kolo Toure) but injury hass affected both teams in different ways: Liverpool has seen its front six remain intact whilst City’s forward core has missed significant time due to injury and rotation. David Silva likely being done for the season certainly doesn’t help.


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.


Football Statistics


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