Tag Archives: Demba Ba

Premier League Round 10

7 Nov

Well it didn’t take long for the inevitable to happen, van Persie was always gonna score against Arsenal. Not only was it playing against his former club, but he thrives against big game opponents. And whilst Arsenal are down to 7th now, they were in the magical Top 6 category going into the game. Last season van Persie scored 7 goals against the best the league had to offer and in the last two games, he’s scored against both Chelsea (then 1st) and now Arsenal. Add in the goal against Liverpool (not currently in the Top 6, but a big game for United), and he’s carrying on where he left off last season. Along with Demba Ba and Juan Mata, van Persie leads the way with goals against the Top 6, whilst the best average opposition per goal belongs to Mata (5.00), whilst midfielder and Soul man, Marouane Fellaini, has a decent average of 7.20 for his five goals this term, after his brace against Fulham (7th) at the weekend.

Leading the flat track bully stakes as per last week are Michu, who has 14.83 and no goals against the decent teams, Jelavic (16.00) and Carlos Tevez with 16.50. None scored this weekend, so they’ll no doubt be there or there abouts again next weekend.

Did someone say clean sheets? Well okay then. It’s not the glamorous glory of goalscoring, but it does guarantee at least a point, unlike those fancy Dans up front. It tells an interesting story in terms of how the teams are performing. For instance, if you were to take the three promoted teams from last season:

Whilst West Ham were keeping a clean sheet against Champions Man City at the weekend, Reading and Southampton find themselves stuck in the bottom three, despite both keeping more clean sheets than West Ham last season. And perhaps that’s the biggest difference between the leagues. Both Reading and Southampton are scoring regularly but a lack of clean sheets has meant just one win between them. And so on to the rest of the league:

West Ham actually lead the way with four clean sheets this season, the same as West Brom, Stoke, Chelsea and Arsenal, though they have the highest average opponent per clean sheet. Interstingly, Arsenal kept three of their four clean sheets in the opening three games when everyone decided they now had the best defence around due to Steve Bould’s arrival as assistant manager. Not quite going so well since. The other stand out stats are that United only have two clean sheets from ten games, even though they’re top, and neighbours and champions City, have three. Everton have the highest average from their two clean sheets (Man Utd and a high flying Swansea in round 5).



Premier League Round 9

28 Oct

Almost a quarter of the way through the season now, and the big game players are starting to establish themselves. Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez both scored in the weekend’s biggest games against Chelsea (1st) and Everton (5th), whilst Juan Mata’s free kick continues his good early season form and maintains his position as the league’s big game player – with an average ranked opponent of 5th, and 3 of his 4 goals coming against Top 6 teams. The other was against Arsenal – then in 8th.

Demba Ba has mirrored his form of last season, offering Robin van Persie some competition on the golden boot front. He was on fire (not literally Jamie) for the first half of the season, before scoring just once after the African cup of nations. Bizarrely, there’s another tournament this season, though fortunately for Newcastle, Senegal didn’t qualify.

Michu leads the charge from midfield with 6 goals. Interestingly, none have come against the Top 6 teams, leaving him with an average ranked opponent of 14.83 per goal – topped only by Tevez (16.50) and Jelavic (16.00). Last season, Michu scored 15 La Liga goals, with just two against Top 6 teams (a double in a 6-2 defeat to Real Madrid), and had an average ranked opponent of 11.53 per goal.

In terms of the value of goals, it’s no surprise to see last season’s leading points earner, Robin van Persie at the top of the charts. His seven league goals have been worth 9 points to his new club – and whilst Arsenal are doing okay this year, there’s a good change they’d be closer than 7 points behind at this stage with him. Demba Ba’s goals have been the most important to his team, at 61.54% whilst Juan Mata’s goals have been against good opposition, and have won Chelsea 4 points, although only 18.18% of their total. Steven Fletcher is the only player to have scored for Sunderland this season, but thanks to some particularly dull 0-0 draws and an own goal from Demba Ba in last week’s derby, his goals have only been worth 55.56% of Sunderlands points total.

That’s all for now, there’ll be a piece on Youth System’s shortly – looking at which academies have produced the most big game players.



Premier League Round 33

11 Apr

It feels like only yesterday we were discussing the Round 32 action, and having to put up another update, I can almost feel some sympathy for Premier League footballers who have to play two games in such a short space of time. Well, not really, most of them get my annual salary in a weekly wage – so **** ’em. Anyway, the big news is that after the race for the title ended with Man City’s defeat to a very impressive Arsenal, it’s now back on after Man Utd’s defeat to a very impressive Wigan. Wigan fans must feel bitter sweet about their recent form. They beat Liverpool at Anfield, were robbed by two offside goals against Chelsea, and have just beaten Man Utd – but what on Earth have they been doing for the rest of the season? Shaun Maloney’s second goal in four games (vs Liverpool and Man Utd) was enough to win the match for Wigan, who also should have scored through Victor Moses’ header which was harshly disallowed. So United’s 8 point lead is now just 5 points because of Man City’s impressive win against 13th placed West Brom.

City walked into the last chance saloon with Carlos Tevez the first through the swinging doors. The tricky Argentinian was back in the starting line up for the first time since his 5 month intensive golf training. Man City were desperate and with Mental Mario unlikely to play for the club again, and Dzeko being pants since the Autumn, it was down to their former captain and last years top scorer to inspire them. And inspire them he did. Forming an all Argentinian front line with fellow trickster Sergio Aguero, they carved the midlanders open – playing with the freedom of a team no longer feeling the pressure of a title race. Encouragingly, David Silva also looked refreshed. With the surprising score from Wigan (they’d never even picked up a point from Man Utd in the Premier League), the gap is now 5 points, but crucially, City have to host United in what could turn out to be a massive game. Win that and it’s 2 points, and with City having a better goal difference thanks to this 4-0 win, a single draw by United will be enough for City to get back on top. There’s a lot of ifs, and as the saying goes, if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle, but it’s still good for the neutral. Tevez has generally done well against United for both City and previously West Ham, so don’t be surprised if he still has a big say in the title race.

Just behind the top two sit Arsenal with a 5 point cushion over 4th place. Their 9th win in 10 games saw Wolves pretty much relegated (9 points adrift), and also showed what a waste their first half of the season was. Those who dounted Wenger are idiots (I know I certainly didn’t – honest), and it’s not as if they’ve just been steam rolling poor teams like Wolves. The recent run has seen wins against Liverpool (then 7th), Spurs (then 3rd), Newcastle (then 6th) and Man City (2nd). Add to those wins, other victories against resurgent Everton and Sunderland teams, and throw in a 3-0 win over AC Milan, and all of a sudden, Arsenal are showing the mental strength that Wenger has been referring to for so long. The turning point in the season was recovering from 2-0 down to beat rivals Spurs 5-2. That stopped a 13 point lead opening, and it became 7 points, also leading to Spurs poor run of form. Robin van Persie scored his first goal in 4 games, with midfielders Walcott and Benayoun completed the scoring versus 10 man Wolves. Interestingly, with the Euro’s approaching, Walcott (9.50) now has as many Premier League Goals as the greediest player in the league (TM) Daniel Sturridge (12.50) with eight each. Walcott has 4 against Top 6 opponents, compared to Sturridge’s 5 against Bottom 6. Read from that what you will.

Other love should also be dished out to Newcastle. All of a sudden they’ve somehow won 5 games in a row whilst everyone has been looking at Chelsea and Spurs. This leaves Newcastle level on points with Spurs (one win in eight) with 59 points, and they remain two ahead of Chelsea who were Dempsey’d against Fulham in a 1-1 draw. Papiss Cisse (12.0) and Ben Arfa (13.4) have been the catalysts for the winning run, and both were on the scoresheet against 16th place Bolton.

RvP’s cheeky penalty against Wolves takes him 5 goals clear at the top of the scoring charts, with 5 games left for him to hit the magical 30 mark. He’s now scored against 17 of the 19 teams he’s faced this season. He still leads the way with goals against the Top 6, and it’s ex-Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor that leads the way from an average opposition point of view with 8.15. He’s still yet to score against bottom 6 opposition this season.

Frank Lampard Junior looks likely to keep the Flat Track bully tag for the season with an average ranked opponent of 14.55 per goal. His penalty against 10th placed Fulham was his first goal since Round 26. His average opponent per goal is ranked 3 places lower than Super Clint Dempsey’s 11.38. The Texan midfielder has had an awesome season and has eclipsed his previous best of 12 last season. He’s one short of 50 Premier League goals. He’s surely above Cobi Jones as the best American to have played in England?

Cisse’s meteoric rise continues for Newcastle. His 10th goal in 9 games since joining has put him level with Premier League hot shots Jermain Defoe (9.50) and Javier Hernandez (11.60). You have to wonder if he’s somehow nicked Demba Ba’s shooting boots as he’s done sod all since his countryman joined. But these three are in the shadow of big Yakubu (12.81). His brace against Liverpool took his league tally to 16. This equals his best tally in England which he achieved with Portsmouth back in 2003-04. In that season he managed it in 37 games, this season has taken just 23 games. He had just 10 goals in his previous 53 Premier League games. Unfortuantely for Blackburn, his goals weren’t enough as big Andy Carroll made things interesting in his competition with Fernando Torres. Carroll’s winner was his 4th league goal of the season to Torres’ five. Also, why doesn’t Maxi play more? He always seems to score when he plays. I admittedly haven’t watched every Liverpool game, but i’m pretty sure he’s better than Downing/Henderson? I suggested Liverpool would have a big say in the relegation fight after defeats to Wigan and QPR and this win over Blackburn will have as big an effect.

FA Cup this weekend, and Everton go in on the back of their best form of the season with just two defeats in thirteen. Their 4-0 win over Sunderland was especially impressive after they fielded a weakened team. As shown in the last post, they always finish the season strongly, and although I had no answer for it then (yesterday), perhaps it’s down to each summer selling a key member of the squad (Rooney, Lescott, Arteta, etc….) taking a while to recover, and then getting a shot in the arm in the January window – Donavon, Jelavic, Gibson? Who knows.

That’s all for now, Spanish and Italian leagues to follow. The next feature is looking like a big one, so may take a little while longer.



Premier League Round 31

6 Apr

Plenty of movement in the Premier League since our last update, most noticeably at the top of the table – Manchester United are now 5 points clear at the top of the league after City drew two consecutive games – firstly a 1-1 at Peter Crouch’s Stoke (11th), followed by a last gasp point against Sunderland (8th) at the previously inpenetrable Eastlands. City’s 4 points from 12 available have come at the worst possible time, with Man Utd notoriously strong finishers. In that same time, the team from Old Trafford have chalked up 4 straight wins, as part of a run seeing 10 wins in 11 games. Considering this team has been written off as average, and the 6-1 humiliation at home to City, it’s been a hell of a come back. But what’s brought around the change in fortunes? Squad Management and fatigue.

As you can see from the above split of the season so far, whilst Man City burst out of the starting blocks, wowing everyone along the way, United were the model of consistancy. City scored 67% of their goals in the first 15 games of the season, and just 33% in the 16 games after. United in the mean time have a pretty steady 46%-54% split. The consistancy is best illustrated by comparing Rooney and Dzeko. There was just one goal between them at the half way stage, compared to 8 now. In fact the only player in the City squad to have scored more goals in second half of the season so far is Joleon Lescott, with 2. United also show the strength of their squad with three more scorers. If David Silva was the best midfielder at the start of the season, Antonio Valencia has taken on that title since. Both have 12 league assists – Silva in 30 games, and Valencia in 20. Silva has just 4 in the last 16 games, compared to Valencia’s 9.

There’s nothing wrong with City’s defence, with the split of 15/10 favouring the last 16 games (United’s split of goals conceded is a predictably even 14/13). It’s all about the goalscoring – perhaps it’s understandable that they’re turning back to Carlos Tevez now when they need some inspiration, and more importantly, a fresh pair of legs.

One interesting fact from the above tables is that there isn’t an outstanding goalscorer from midfield for either team. Think back to Title winning teams, and you’ve had Ljungberg, Lampard, Giggs, Beckham, Scholes, Pires etc. Of course the season still has 7 games left, so there’s still a chance for someone like Valencia or Young to step up. Both were on the scoresheet against 16th place Blackburn. Unsurprisingly, Paul Robinson was beaten by two more strikes from the edge of the area.

Elsewhere, the defeat for Blackburn has had an impact on the relegation fight. Whilst two rounds ago, Blackburn were 6 points clear and everyone was apologising to Steve Kean, two defeats and an unlikely turn around in form from Wigan, Bolton and QPR, has seen them fall back into the bottom 3. Strangely enough, Liverpool are having a bigger impact on the fight at the bottom, than their usual place at the top. Defeats to QPR and Wigan have helped breathe life into both team’s seasons. QPR in particular have reason to be pleased – beating 7th placed Liverpool and 3rd placed Arsenal at Loftus Road.

In terms of the average opposition index, it’s still Robin van Persie (11.27) leading the way against Top 6 teams – although he’s on something of a goal drought, with a barren three games. It points to Arsenal’s turn around in fortunes that five goals have been scored by other players in that time, whilst they picked up 2 wins in that time. It’ll be interesting to see how he does against 2nd placed Man City this weekend. In terms of the Big Game Player by average opposition per goal, that still belongs to Emmanuel Adebayor. His double against 10th placed Swansea, slightly lowered his average to 8.15, but he will welcome his first goals in five. He has still to score against Bottom 6 opponents, which isn’t a proble for Spurs, who also have Rafael van der Vaart and Jermain Defoe on the scoring charts. Spurs have lost 7 games this season – and 5 of them have been against Top 6 Oppositions – Man City twice, Man Utd twice, and Arsenal. It’s the results against the top three that has meant they’ve fallen to 4th, just weeks after challenging for first place.

Demba Ba’s goals have certainly dried up since his return from the African Cup of Nations, with just one goal in the last 11 Newcastle games. What do you do if your Senegalese striker’s goals dry up? You get your Senegalese striker to score them instead. Papiss (Demba) Cisse has 7 goals in 7 games since moving to Saint Sports Direct Park. Add that to the 9 goals he scored for Freiburg, and he has 16 goals in 23 league games – compared to Demba (Papiss?) Ba’s 16 in 27 games. Ba still remains in the Top 4 for goals scored, with a decent split of 4-9-3 of goals against the different ranges of opponents.

The Flat Track Bully remains Frank Lampard. His 10 goals have been against an average of 15th, with just one coming against the Top 6. He’s been left standing still in the midfield goalscoring stakes by Clint Dempsey, who’s goal against Norwich (11th) was his 13th of another good season in the Premier League. An average opposition ranking of 11.15 is the best of the three midfielders on the list (Bale has 13.11). Peter Odemwingie gets a mention in the Flat Track Bully commentary with no goals scored against the elite – the only player on the list without.

Want something you haven’t seen for a while? Well sure – he’s the top nationalities in terms of goals in the Premier League this season:

Despite foreigners apparently stopping English players coming through, it’s still England that provides the most goals – by a long way. Unsurprisingly, Ireland, Wales and Scotland are also flying high. Holland lead the way from out side Britain and Ireland, bouyed bt Robin van Persie’s 26 goals. French players seem to have the best temperament in the big games with almost a third of their goals against Top 6 opponents.

That’s all for now, there’s plenty going on over the next 5 days, with most clubs playing twice – giving us plenty more stats to look at.



Premier League Round 24

7 Feb

Another round passes and two more big games with it. One was a Premier League Classic at Stamford Bridge, whilst the other was a bit of a damp squib at Anfield, where the most interesting moment was when a Cat appeared on the pitch, which appeared to un nerve an otherwise flawless Brad Friedel. Although one talking point was when Gareth Bale was put clean through to win the game. Now you could argue that this would be a good time to prove he was a big game player – but he just kicked the ball straight at Pepe Reina (although he was positioned well). ***Flashback Alert*** The angle and position of the keeper reminded me of Steve McManaman’s goal in the Champions League Semi-Final against Barcelona back in 2002, but from the left side. McManaman showed his big game player status, away at a footballing Cathederal, by scoring from a one on one with a keeper off his line (1.30min on this clip) much like Bale faced. McManaman in fact was a big game player – this goal aside, he has a Champions League Final goal (2000) as well as two in the League Cup Final in 1995.

Bale on the other hand, hasn’t really stood up to be counted in the big games this season. As mentioned in the Round 23 post, he’s now scored 9 goals after his brace against lowly Wigan, but aside from his excellent goal to equalise away at Man City (and that was undoubtedly a big game moment), the rest of his goals have been against slightly more humble opposition – 3 vs Wigan, 2 vs Norwich, 2 vs QPR and 1 against Fulham. None were ranked above 10th at the time of scoring:

There’s no doubt that he’s a very very good player, and he’s very young, but talk of people comparing him to Messi and Ronaldo is a bit premature. Even his hat trick away at Inter Milan last year was a group game in which they were always losing. Personally, I love watching him play, but he needs to be counted in more of the bigger games to really be nominated as one of the best in the World.

Aside from Bale, things are pretty much as they were. Robin van Persie continues to lead the way in goals. His Average Opposition rating took a bit of a hit with a hat trick against 18th place Blackburn, but he still has 5 goals vs Top 6 opponents – which is still joint highest. Big Game Players are Adebayor and Balotelli with 7.22 and 6.11 respectively, but they’re not scoring many of late, with a mixture of form and suspensions leading to 1 goal in the last 7 games between them.

Dzeko retains the Flat Track Bully title with a goal against 13th placed Fulham – as predicted in the Round 23 post on Friday. Also on that post, Javier Hernandez was also picked out as a player to watch/bet on at the weekend, and he didn’t disappoint, with his 3rd goal vs Top 6 opposition – Man Utd’s highest.

And whilst on the subject of the Little Pea, just to clear up a stat some of you may have seen on Monday Night Football – points won by goals. The programme had Javier Hernandez down as winning 9 points from his 8 goals. That should be down as 7 points as per below:

The difference is just that they’ve given 3 points for the winners against Everton and Swansea, whereas if you took those goals away, they’d still have a point in each game – therefore, the winning goal is worth 2 points. I agree with the sentiment though, not only has he got most goals vs Top 6 opponents for United, but his goals are generally important. To gain 7 points from 8 goals is a great return.

And whilst on the subject of points per goals, here’s the top point scorers in the Premier League after 24 games:

So Robin van Persie’s  fantastic season continues, although his hat trick against Blackburn didn’t translate into any points. As mentioned in an earlier post, 17 points was the highest any player got for the whole of last season, so to have that many after 24 games shows his importance to Arsenal.

Petere Odemwingie was that player last season with 15 goals, though he’s certainly suffered from second season syndrome – with just 4 goals this time round. The good news for him though is that the goals he has scored have been worth 6 points. Elsewhere, Demba Ba’s triumphant return to Newcastle (after Senegal’s untriumphant Cup of Nations) means that he moves above Yakubu into second place.

At the other end of the scale, AOI favourite, Dimitar Berbatov has 7 goals that translate into nil points. This feat is matched by Bolton’s Klasnic. Of the top scorers, you’ll notice Rooney and Aguero are missing from the list above. Both have 15 goals each. The number of points lost if their goals were taken away? 3 each.



Premier League Round 22

23 Jan

Today’s games not only had a big impact on the Premier League table, but also on the Average Opposition Index. The last update we saw showed us that Mario Balotelli was the best big game player with an average opponent per goal of 6.50, and along with Robin van Persie and Clint Dempsey, has done it most against Top 6 Opposition.

Balotelli kept up his big game record, but should he have been on the pitch?

Well after the second half classic in the Man City vs Spurs game, Balotelli has done it again – his goal against 3rd placed Spurs not only opened up an 8 point gap over their title rivals, but also increased his AOI from 6.50 to 6.11. Spurs can feel rightly aggrieved that they lost this one. Not only did Defoe’s Gazza impression prevent them from going 3-2 up in the last minute, the winner for City was scored by a man who should have been sent off earlier, after a stamp on Scott Parker. Nonetheless, this site is about tracking who the big game players are. I jokingly sent a message to a Spurs supporting friend that they should be wary of Big Game Mario – and I now wish I’d put a bet on it. Stats are often criticised for not showing the full picture, but in this case, Balotelli’s big game performances have become a trend. Sure it was penalty, but he won it, and had a pretty good chance of scoring had Ledley King not fouled him.

In the other big game of the day, Man Utd continued their hoodoo over Arsenal, and in doing so also kept the pressure up on Man City. For Arsenal it was once again their main man Robin van Persie who scored their goal. On this occasion it was an equaliser, though ultimately didn’t lead to any points. Nonetheless, he’s now joint top of goals vs Top 6 opposition, with his 5th goal against the Premier League’s best. This also helped his AOI ranking to 10.37 – above the magical 10.5 mark.

Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale also scored in today’s big game, and in doing so have bettered their averages to 8.88 and 10.43 respectively. Defoe can now rightly be regarded as a big game player – he has 4 goals against Top 6 opponents, despite limited game time due to Adebayor’s lone/loan striker role.

Aside from the two showcase games on Sunday, there’s also been some other movement on the list in recent weeks. Wolves and Scotland striker Steve Fletcher continued his impressive goal scoring record with another against Top 6 opponents – this time away at Spurs (Round 21). Add to this the goals at away at Arsenal, away at United and away at Liverpool, and there’s once again a trend here. Fletcher is a big game player. Take into account his team ranking, and it’s an even more impressive season (AOI 9.89).

So the big game player continues to be Balotelli, but what of the flat track bully? That title is now held by his City team mate Edin Dzeko. He started the game today but did very little. Against Wigan (20th) last time out though, he scored the winner. That was a very important a strike as it was worth 3 points, but it’s lowered his AOI to 13.91 – saving the blushes of midfielders Lampard (13.56) and van der Vaart (13.86). Lampard’s goal against 10th ranked Sunderland won the 3 points and also improved his average.

The AOI leader from midfield

The other big winner in the list is Fulham’s Clint Dempsey who is now matching Lampard as the top scoring midfielder after his hat trick against 6th placed Newcastle. His average has now shot up to 9.33 and as mentioned above, he’s also sharing the top spot for goals versus Top 6 Opponents. Well played Clint. Apparently he’s also now the top scoring American in Premier League history, ahead of Brian McBride, and John Harkes….probably.

And so to close off this week’s update, a quick look at the points as goals table:

As per the last time out, RVP is the main man for points, whilst Yakubu is the most important to his team. That being said, Blackburn’s unlikely revival under managerial genius Steve Kean (I doubt he would have put on Arshavin for the Ox), has continued afoot without the suspended Yak. After his sending off last week, they went on to beat Fulham 3-1, and followed up with a well earned 1-1 draw at Everton. As a result, whilst he is still the leader on the importance measure, it’s fallen from over 75% to 61%. Surprisingly, Mario Balotelli’s winner today was his first goal that was decisive in terms of points this season.

Rest of the leagues to be updated this week, and I hope to have the Henry vs van Nistelrooy Player Comparison up within the next week.



Premier League – Round 20

7 Jan

And so another round of Premier League games have come and gone, and we’re now past the half way mark and into the Business Half of the season. Round 20 saw some significant movement at both ends of the table, Man City managed to put their recent poor form behind them and moved 3 points clear of their (equally noisy?) neighbours after dispatching 6th placed Liverpool at home with a comfortable 3-0 win. Man Utd continued to falter with a second consecutive defeat, this time to Newcastle, and as with the Blackburn defeat, they conceded 3 goals again. Spurs continued their impressive form with a hard fought victory against West Brom – courtesy of Jermain Defoe and his odd hair.

Defoe praying that he doesn’t pick up the wrong bottle again

At the other end of the table, Fulham moved out of the Bottom 6 after the late late show against Arsenal. The other winners in the relegation scrap were Bolton, who despite conceding to a Goalkeeper (and a modest one at that – well played Tim Howard), went on to a surprise victory away at Goodison Park. Everton’s goalscoring has been a problem this season and it was good of Howard to contribute, but they need their strikers and the likes of Cahill to take the pressure off of their free scoring keeper. Blackburn, Wigan, Wolves and QPR all lost. Hats of to Sunderland, who followed their win against Man City with a massive 4-1 win away at Wigan.

So how does this affect the AOI for goalscorers?Robin van Persie continues to lead, but Demba Ba has closed the gap to just two goals. Newcastle will be hoping he doesn’t perform similarly in the African Cup of Nations, or else they could be without him longer than they can afford. His Average has jumped from 11.57 per opponent per goal, to a much more balanced 10.93. Remember that the all round regular scorer should be around 10.5 across a season. How West Ham must be cursing their luck that they didn’t recoup any transfer fee for the prolific marksman. Sergio Aguero also increased his tally and indeed his average with a Pepe Reina assisted strike against Liverpool. Not only does this increase his average opponent per goal to 10.93 (the same as Demba Ba), but it also increases his number of strikes against Top 6 opposition. He’s now scored against Man Utd, Liverpool, Newcastle and Spurs in this impressive debut season.

Mario Balotelli continues to hold the Big Game Player tag, though hasn’t moved for a while due to injuries. The worst average per goal belongs to midfielder Rafael van der Vaart of Tottenham. Spurs manager Harry Redknapp certainly won’t mind this, as they’ve now matched Man City as the only teams with 3 players in the Top Scorers lists.

New Stat Alert – Goals as Points!

After adding some Average Opposition stats on the Nationalities and Clean Sheets last time 0ut, I’ve been looking into  another barometer for the importance of goals. This isn’t necessarily linked to their average opponent, but it is a measure of importance to the result – albeit heavily weighted towards Forwards/Goalscorers. The below table is a formula driven stat which is far from an exact science, but is interesting none the less. The below stats shows the number of points that the team would lose if you took out the players goals.

It’s worth pointing out that this isn’t strictly the importance of goals – you could for example Chelsea’s 3-1 win over Norwich earlier in the season. As Chelsea won by two goals and had three different goal scorers, you could take one of Bosingwa’s, Lampard’s or Mata’s goals away and the result would still be 2-1 to Chelsea – meaning that there is no direct impact to the result and number of points. In reality – the opening goal of a game is always important (Bosingwa), and Frank Lampard’s goal in that match was in the 84th minute, which put Chelsea back ahead. Both were important goals, but due to Mata’s injury time goal – the importance in this formula lessens.

So with that in mind – what of the above table? Well it’s no surprise that Robin van Persie is responsible for the most points for his team – with massive 17 (47.22% of Arsenal’s total points). If you took van Persie’s goals away, then Arsenal would be in 15th Place – though of course the player replacing him may well have scored elsewhere.

But van Persie is not the most important player for his team – that honour falls to the Yak, who’s goals equate to a massive 78.57% of Blackburn’s points. Admittedly, they are bottom of the table, but it still shows a) what a great signing he’s been and b) they rely far too much on him. Without him, they’d be even further adrift instead of the 3 points off 17th they are. The syrup loving Demba Ba is the second top scorer in the league, and is 3rd in points gained – however, when taking into account the team’s position and points, his 15 goals at 30.3% are worth less to his team than Jordi Gomez’s 4 goals for Wigan – which are worth 40% of the team’s points.

The current Big Game Player holder is Man City’s Balotelli, but based on the above calculation, his 8 goals, against good teams have resulted in no points. How so? Well every game he’s scored in which has resulted in points for his team (all aside from the defeat to Chelsea), has been won by more than one goal. Even when he scored a brace against Man Utd, the team won by 5 goals – meaning his goals did not directly contribute to the final result.

Does this statistic prove anything? Not definitively – but it does show the importance of certain players to their teams.



Premier League Round 15

12 Dec

Round 15 in the Premier League saw some big changes in the scorers lists. Robin van Persie continued his goal a game average, whilst Rooney’s goal drought was broken with a brace against Wolves taking him up to 11 for the season, whilst seeing his average opponent per goal dropping to 12.18. Also on 11 goals after the weekend is Newcastle’s Demba Ba after his double against 11th placed Norwich – meaning that his average stays at a consistent 10.64.

Two significant movers on the Average Opposition Index were both playing in the same game at Stamford Bridge. Mario Balotelli’s opener meant that he moved level with Robin van Persie in goals against Top 6 opposition with 4. This also means that he retains the best average (for those with 6 goals or more). The other scorer to benefit in that game was Frank Lampard, who through his winning penalty, lost the lowest average per opponent for each goal. This was also Lampard’s first goal against Top 6 opposition, leaving Yakubu as the only player without a Top 6 goal. Unsurprisingly, this leaves him with the worst average, although as mentioned previously, he is generally always playing against a better team than his own.

Honourable mentions to Steve Fletcher and Norwich duo Holt and Morison who all scored against Top 6 opponents at the weekend, and remaining in the top scorers list.

Lampard and Rafael van der Vaart continue to be the only midfielders in the list.

With regards to Average Opposition for each team, the below table shows this per team:

Surprisingly, Sunderland have had the easiest run of fixtures in the opening 15 fixtures this season. This perhaps helps to understand why Steve Bruce was sacked. Despite having the easiest set of fixtures (based on their opponents at the start of the round), they were still in a lowly 16th position. Sunderland fans will hope Martin O’Neill can build on his winning start. Similarly to struggling Sunderland, Wigan, West Brom and Blackburn have also had easier run ins than most.

Man City, Swansea, Fulham and Bolton are close to the average 10.5 opposition that you’d expect to see over the course of a season – although this changes slightly depending on each team’s ranking.

At the other end of the scale, Liverpool can count themselves quite unlucky with their start. Only once have they played opposition below 12th – in a 4-0 defeat to a then lowly Spurs. They’ve also played Arsenal, Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea – and were unbeaten in those games. Man Utd can also point to a similarly difficult start to the season – despite this, they are sitting in 4th, just 2 points behind their Manchester rivals.

I’ll be looking at clean sheets by ranges in the next round of fixtures.