Premier League Round 19

2 Jan

With the exception of Spurs and Everton, all the teams have played half their games in the 2011/12 Premier League season. With that in mind, this post will look beyond just the Top Scorers Average Opposition Index (though fear not, it’s also included further below).

Average Opposition by Nationality:

Unurprisingly, goals scored by English players are miles ahead (171 goals), although given the doom and gloom about foreigners apparently harming the chances of local talent maybe it isn’t expected by all. Second place is filled by our Friends across the water in Ireland (Republic) with 33 goals. You’d expect the rest of the home nations to follow immediately but at the halfway point in the season, Wales are joint 4th, Scotland are 7th and Northern Ireland are a lowly 31st with only 2 goals scored (Gareth McAuley and Chris Brunt of West Brom).

Holland are perched in 3rd place thanks largely to Robin van Persie but perhaps surprisingly, joint 4th place is occupied by Spain. It shows the strength in the Premier League that it can attract some of the top talent from Spain (a competitor for the World’s best league TM) with Torres, Mata, Silva and Reina all part of the national set up. On the flip side, the lack of English players in Spain could be put down to the lesser quality and cultural differences – the English are notoriously bad at moving abroad.

Of the selected countries outside the Top 10, this illustrates the changing face of the Premier League – especially when looking at the lowly totals of the Scandinavian countries and Northern Ireland, whereas Argentina, Bulgaria and the previously mentioned Spain are in the top 10.

In terms of Average Opposition per goal, it’s the Scots that lead the way with 10.95. They’re making up for their lack of numbers by performing in the big games. A lot of this can be attributed to Steven Fletcher, though Darren Fletcher and Grant Hanley’s solitary goals were against 1st and 2nd place respectively.

Behind the Scots, one of England’s other traditional rivals, Argentina have the joint second best average – 11.13, alongside a Gareth Bale inspired Wales

Dimitar Berbatov’s turnaround in form has been impressive with six goals in his last three games. However, in terms of Average Opposition per goal, he has the lowest number of those with 5+ goals – his Average Opponent per each goal is 17.17. Stilyan Petrov is responsible for lifting the Bulgaria average after a recent goal against Chelsea. Interestingly (depending on the definition of the word), no team with 10 goals or more have an average of below the expected 10.5.

The nation with the highest percentage of goals vs Top 6 is Bosnia & Herzegovina, though this is solely down to Edin Dzeko who has notched 3 times against Top 6 Opponents, although he also has 4 goals against a then under strength and lowly ranked Spurs.

Average Opponent per Clean Sheet:

After scoring goals, the second most important factor in picking up wins is keeping it tight at the back. With that in mind, the Average Opposition Index can also be applied to see which defences/defenders really step it up. Although the results should differ, the same formula’s can be applied (see the Rules and Workings section).

Whilst Man Utd lead the way in Clean Sheets, the stand out performers in terms of the Average Opposition are Swansea’s back 5. Inspired by Michael Vorm’s performances, the Swansea team have kept 8 clean sheets, with none against the bottom 6 ranked teams. The Average Opposition of 9.38 per Clean Sheet is also one of the best in the league, and are second only to Stoke for those teams with 5 Clean Sheets or more.

Arsenal’s revival has been built on a remodelled defence, with Mertesacker, Andre Santos, and a fit again Vermaelen strengthening after a shocking start to the season. Although they’ve had problems at full back of late, they’ve only let in 5 goals in the last 9 league games. Their Average Oppostion is a lowly 15.00 but they’ve made the most of these whilst relying heavily on Robin van Persie at the other end.

Blackburn and Norwich are yet to keep a Clean Sheet so far this season, whereas Bolton and Wolves have only had 2 shut outs. In terms of form, Newcastle had 3 in their first 4 games, but only 3 in the following 15 as a result of injuries to the back four.

A further standout statistic is that not one team have managed to keep a Clean Sheet in more than 2 games against Top 6 Opposition. Man Utd have scored in every match this season, Spurs have been stopped just once (against United) whereas Man City have only been kept out twice – the last two games against West Brom and Sunderland.

Goal Scorers:

And so to the Bread and Butter of the site, the Premier League leading scorers by Average Opposition. The big mover (not a comment on his size) is once again Yakubu. Up until this weekend, he was in and around the Top Scorers list, but had the worst Average Opponent per goal, and none scored against the Top 6. After the eye opening Blackburn Win away at Man Utd, Yakubu’s double helped his Average jump from 14.80 to 12.67. Rafael van der Vaart is now the holder of the Flat Track Bully tag, although as with Frank Lampard earlier in the season, it must be pointed out that he’s a midfielder (albeit very attacking). And so to the stats:

Balotelli once again holds onto the Big Game Player crown, and there’s still no player that’s scored more than 4 goals vs Top 6 Opposition. Worryingly for Roberto Mancini, his Forwards are in poor form. After the first 10 games of the season, Dzeko, Aguero and Balotelli had 9, 9 and 5 goals respectively. The following 9 games have seen Dzeko score 1, Aguero score 4 and Balotelli scoring 3.

Serie A and La Liga goal scoring Average Opposition Index have now been completed up until the Christmas break and will be posted this week.

Cheers,

Liam 

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