More Statistics!

Crunching the numbers to unravel football’s cause and effect.

Football statistics

At the beginning of the season we questioned the use of statistics in football, and challenged their increasing use. Is there any meaningful relationship between the plethora of statistics available these days and the actual outcome of games? Or are they just an interesting addition to our football watching experience?

I am indebted to the website WhoScored.com, plus other resources, when considering the statistics widely available in respect of football these days. I have looked at a variety of statistical data whilst we are in the third international break after eleven games of the season, some of which is reproduced below.

League (Points)

 

League (Home Pts)

 

League  (Away Pts)

1

Liverpool

26

 

1

Chelsea

15

 

1

Arsenal

13

2

Chelsea

25

 

2

Liverpool

13

 

2

Liverpool

13

3

Man City

24

 

3

Burnley

13

 

3

Man City

12

4

Arsenal

24

 

4

Man City

12

 

4

Tottenham

10

5

Tottenham

21

 

5

Leicester

11

 

5

Chelsea

10

6

Man Utd

18

 

6

Everton

11

 

6

Man Utd

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17

West Ham

11

 

12

West Ham

8

 

17

West Ham

3

Shots per game

 

Goals Scored

 

Possession %

1

Liverpool

19.1

 

1

Liverpool

30

 

1

Man City

61.1

2

Man City

17.9

 

2

Chelsea

26

 

2

Liverpool

57.9

3

Tottenham

17.7

 

3

Man City

25

 

3

Arsenal

56.4

4

Man Utd

17.4

 

4

Arsenal

24

 

4

Tottenham

56.0

5

Chelsea

16.9

 

5

Man Utd

16

 

5

Man Utd

55.0

6

Southampton

16.5

 

6

Crystal Palace

16

 

6

Southampton

54.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

West Ham

14.5

 

15=

West Ham

11

 

11

West Ham

50.7

Pass Success %

 

Yellow Cards

1

Man Utd

86.0

 

1

West Ham

30

2

Man City

85.3

 

2

West Brom

29

3

Chelsea

85.2

 

3

Watford

28

4

Arsenal

84.0

 

4

Man Utd

24

5

Liverpool

83.2

 

5

Sunderland

24

6

Southampton

82.6

 

6=

Several Clubs

23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

West Ham

81.0

 

 

 

 

A Few Observations

  1. Only one of the statistical tables is really important, and that is the total points attained at the end of the season. When we went into the third international break last season we were sixth, and eventually ended up seventh.
  2. The same six teams appear (though not in the same order) in respect of points attained away from home, compared to total points, so far this season.
  3. Five of the six teams at the top of the league have also had the most shots per game so far. The missing team is Arsenal, who, as we all know, tend not to shoot as often as some other teams, preferring to try to walk the ball into the goal. The team who have crept into the top six in this table is Southampton, although they only occupy eleventh place in the league at the moment.
  4. Once again, five of the six top teams in the league also appear at the top in the goals scored table. Tottenham are the missing team, but whilst they are just outside the top six in terms of goals scored, they have conceded fewer goals than any other team in the Premier League this season. Incidentally, there have also been the least number of goals scored (by both sides) in games involving Tottenham this season. So, statistically at least, we shouldn’t expect many goals on Saturday.
  5. The possession percentage also shows five of the six teams at the top of the league table, the missing team this time being Chelsea. Southampton, once again, creep into this table.
  6. The passing success percentage figures for the season to date also has five of the six teams in the league, Tottenham missing out once again, and Southampton appearing.
  7. I have added the West Ham data in the tables, and in virtually all respects, the statistical data suggests that we should perhaps be higher in the league? The fact that we are not is mainly due to our failure to turn shots into goals, and our defensive record, where only three clubs have conceded more goals than we have.
  8. The three teams who have scored the least goals, are the same teams who have conceded the most goals, and are also the same three teams that occupy the relegation positions at the moment, namely Hull, Swansea and Sunderland.
  9. I was determined to find a statistic where we appeared at the top of the league and found one. Yes, we have picked up more yellow cards (30) than any other team in the league after eleven games. There is very little correlation between yellow cards and league position, unlike most of the other statistical data.
  10. Whilst not claiming any meaningful relationship between the statistics in a particular match (after all Liverpool had 81% possession against Burnley and still lost the game), there would appear to be distinct similarities between a number of the statistical tables and league position over the course of several games. The amount of possession that a team has, how accurate it passes the ball, the number of shots and goals scored, all bear a striking similarity to the league position. Like all statistical data, there are exceptions to the rule, but these days it is big business, employing many people.
  11. I have only included a small selection of the statistics that are available. One that always makes me smile (that I haven’t included) is the distance covered by every player on the pitch. Quite how this is calculated cannot be an easy task, and you wonder how much relation it bears to the league table. But the last one I saw had Liverpool at the top for covering the furthest distance. Co-incidence?