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PhillyBlueMoon's - By The Numbers

Greetings fellow VMCers:

A few months ago, Mr. Johnny Baguette asked me to become the official VMC Statto, and I accepted, knowing full well I was probably going to keep my own stats anyway, so I might as well write about it to see if anyone else is interested. I will also be keeping up the Man Of The Season voting and keeping player stats throughout the season in order to see who is performing quietly (most likely Gareth Barry) or who is exceeding expectations (probably Aguero or Silva). This shall count as my first article and first impression. Enjoy.

Major League Baseball is famous in the United States for embracing numbers and statistics in order to determine how good or bad a team should be over the course of a season. The Elias Sports Bureau keeps stats dating back to the "modern era" of baseball, which began around the turn of the 20th century. They throw out some insane stats such as the last time two pitchers hit home runs in the same inning off of each other, or the number of times a player has hit for the cycle the same day someone else threw a no-hitter. And yes, I`m aware some of these terms may not be registering with football fans, but please be assured, those accomplishments don`t happen too often. My plan, when asked to be the official Statto, was to try and take a number of metrics and turn them into results. They say you can present any set of stats to work in your favor, so I tried not to skew the data one way or the other to make my point. I simply want to present what I found based on a number of different statistics I found and used to measure how successful a team should be.

For a start, I decided that a few of the stats that don`t really tell how good a football team are wins, losses, and draws. I know this may seem strange, however we saw it ourselves this past season when Sunderland came to The Etihad and walked away with a 3-3 draw. They were the better team on the day, and we got lucky to secure a vital point. Conversely, when we traveled to West Brom and only managed to walk away with a point, no one could say The Baggies had deserved to draw, and they got a bit lucky themselves. Such is football, and therefore those numbers were not included, since a funny bounce could be the difference between a winner and a loser, this luck was not taken into consideration. Please keep in mind that anything I write should not be taken as a slight against any team mentioned. These are purely analytical results and should be taken as such. To also help my point, Aston Villa finished this past season with 7 wins, the second fewest in the league, and still staved off relegation by two points.

So, moving on, the metrics I did use were as follows: goals for in open play, goals against in open play, shots taken (overall), shooting percentage, save percentage, shots against, clean sheets, and attacks against. For attacks against, I took the number of shots against added to the number of clearances, which gives a good number of meaningful attacks against. The number of "attacks against" is a measure of how good a midfield and defense are in terms of controlling the field and doing their jobs properly. These numbers combined take the stats from the goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders, and forwards, so they should give a pretty good number in regards to overall performance. From these numbers, I ranked the statistics of each from best to worst in the Premier League. I used 1 point for the best overall ranking and 20 for the worst, added them all up, took the average, and then re-ranked the clubs based on that result. After the analysis, I have come up with the following modified table with the average score in parentheses:

2011-2012

1. Manchester City (1.63)

2. Manchester United (3.13)

3. Tottenham (5.5)

4. Arsenal (5.75)

5. Chelsea (6.88)

6. Liverpool (6.88)

7. Everton (7)

8. Newcastle (8.88)

9. Sunderland (9.88)

10. Fulham (10.8)

11. Swansea (11)

12. West Brom (12.6)

13. Stoke City (13)

14. Norwich City (13.4)

15. Wigan Athletic (13.6)

16. QPR (13.8)

17. Aston Villa (15.1)

18. Blackburn (15.6)

19. Bolton (15.9)

20. Wolves (17.5)

Of the 8 statistics used, City ranked first or second in all of them, and as you can see from the modified table, there isn`t too much movement of teams from significant positions. City, United, Everton, Swansea, Wigan, and Wolves were all in the same order, while Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Stoke, QPR, Villa, Blackburn, and Bolton all finished within one spot of their place in the table. Newcastle, West Brom, and Norwich all finished better than expected, while Sunderland and Liverpool all finished the season worse off than they probably should have. In case you are wondering, I also put together a table for the 2010-2011 season to see if my point was valid:

2010-2011

1. United (3)

2. Chelsea (3.625)

3. Arsenal (4)

4. City (4.25)

5. Liverpool (6.25)

6. Fulham (8)

7. Everton (8.125)

8. Tottenham (9.125)

9. Newcastle (9.875)

10. Stoke (10)

11. Sunderland (11.75)

12. Bolton (13.125)

13. West Brom (13.5)

14. Aston Villa (13.875)

15. Blackburn (14.125)

16. Wolves (14.125)

17. Birmingham (14.125)

18. Wigan (14.25)

19. Blackpool (15.25)

20. West Ham (16.25)

Which resulted in United, Chelsea, Everton, Blackburn, Blackpool, and West Ham staying in the same positions as their table results, Arsenal, City, Liverpool, and Sunderland all ended within one spot of their table finish, Fulham, Newcastle, Stoke, Bolton, Wolves, and Birmingham all finishing worse than expected, and Tottenham, West Brom, Aston Villa, and Wigan all finishing better than expected.

And don`t just take my word for it. One of the more recent articles on the Official Site talks about team doctors providing specialized warm-up and cool-down drinks and concoctions based on the individual players` biological makeup that should help with muscles recovery and strength. Teams are taking a look at every last angle in order to develop the best advantage over their competitors. Long gone are the days of simply going out there and "getting stuck in" in order to win games. We should now embrace the future of numbers with open arms, as it will probably help us win more titles going forward.

The only thing this proves, in the end, is that it doesn`t matter how many stats you have to back up an argument or how good a team is "on paper", because as we all know, games are not played on paper. To quote the legendary American sportscaster Kenny Mayne - "We all know that games aren`t played on paper...they are played by little men inside our TV sets."

Look for more articles throughout the season concerning individual and team stats, and if you have an idea for an article or feedback, please send an email to VMCStats@gmail.com and I will read them and attempt to respond.

All stats gathered for this article were found on:

www.premierleague.co.uk

www.statto.com

www.football-lineups.com




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The journalist

Writer: Christopher Hooley Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday July 25 2012

Time: 4:57PM

Your Comments

Fascinating stuff Philly. I look forward to reading more of these stat based articles from you in the future.
Bluedub
well done Philly...the main sat for me was that in your list we were still top of the league
Wswilly3
Top stuff Philly, no better man.
rojo2010
Interesting stuff Philly - i like the comparison with the two seasons.
Thaibluefan
Interesting to see Spurs position from season to season - particularly 2010/11 where they clearly weren't Champions League contenders!
fifthcolumnblue
Back of the net.
Johnny Baguette
 

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