START OF THE WEBSITE
Have you ever wondered how to measure the quality of a football club other than looking at their position in their domestic league table? Have you ever thought about the possibilities to measure the abilities and skills of players other than looking at their contributions to team goals? Have you ever realized how little convincing football statistics are used in typical football coverage? Well, I have, and I think the current application of football statistics can be improved. Let us take a look at what we have right now concerning available statistics and their usage in football coverage.
Penalty shot positioningIn the past few years, some new and advanced football statistics were already shown on TV. For example a graphic about the positioning of the last shots of a player while he took a penalty. This graphic typically shows the positions, where a player placed a shot and scored a goal, usually symbolized by green dots. Meanwhile, the red crosses mark the positions, where a player placed his shot and it was saved by the keeper or missed the net. Research on penalties is generally very well conducted, since a penalty-situation is quite static. It involves just two players (penalty-taker and goalkeeper) and has basically just two outcomes (make or miss).
Actual in-game formationAnother advanced football statistic that was introduced in the past few years is the actual in-game formation of a team. It differs from the pre-game-lineup to the extent that it actually accounts the real position of a player during the game. Of course, there is no single position, where a player is located during the game, the actual in-game position of a player is rather an average value of his different positions on the pitch. It was made possible with the introduction of player tracking, which applies information about the players to real-time video recording. The in-game formation delivers interesting insights on how high a team defends (the distance of the first defensive player to his goalkeeper) and how far the gaps between different players are.
Positioning heatmapsWhile the actual in-game position of a player shows where he was located on the pitch in average, the heatmap shows his positions in detail. It symbolizes the time spent by a player in different sectors on the pitch by using the colors blue, green, yellow, orange and red (from few time spent to a lot of time spent in the sector). The attached graphic shows a fictitious heatmap of a central to left defender, where you can clearly see, that he spent most of the time in the left center of his own half. A further characteristic of central defenders is that they move to the opposing 18-yard-box during set pieces, therefore the green to yellow area in the attached graphic in the 18-yard-box without any other mentionable movement of the player in the opposing half.
Less important statisticsThough I like the above mentioned statistics and visualizations, there are some other stats that are frequently used in football coverage, that are considered as way too important. Possession-percentage, distance covered and passing accuracy are for example often applied to games to underline which team played better. Although I think the three stats have some relevance, I am convinced that other stats help to understand the course of a match. The attached graphic serves as an example. It shows the above-mentioned statistics of the 2017 Europa League-Final between Ajax Amsterdam and Manchester United. Ajax was superior in all three categories, but it was ManUtd who won the game 2-0 and that win was never really questioned during the path of the game.
More important statisticsLet us switch from TV coverage to the statistics available on different websites. In the year 2017, you can find many statistics, which came across in the last few years. There are stats about dribblings, tacklings, passes, interceptions, key passes, clearances, shots, blocks and more. Some of the mentioned categories even have subcategories, leaving us with many statistics to describe the strengths and weaknesses of players. In the attached graphic, you can see a radar chart with fictitious values, which shows how good a player is in selected categories. However, it is hard to tell, how many of these statistics really matter and which of them are more important than others are. Moreover, how can you compare players with such a wide range of statistics to see, which player is better?
Absolutely advanced statisticsSome genius minds came up with certain statistics that matter more than others do. A quite important statistic that I like to use for understanding the course of a match is expected goals (XG). This method provides you with the probability of a shot being converted into a goal. Thus, you can value the shots taken by a player or a team, which is a better approach than just looking at their shots. An improvement to statistics concerning passing have also been made with the introduction of Packing. Packing values passes according to the number of players that were outplayed by a pass and is therefore more significant than the amount of successful passes or passing accuracy. Sadly (or logically), these statistics are not broadly available.
Wrap-upAs you could see, there is room for improvement concerning the usage of football statistics. Despite there are many statistics available, they are mostly not used in typical football coverage and by the broad mass of fans and spectators. That is why I have founded footballelixir.com. The range of articles on Footballelixir will include detailed looks at advanced statistics, that are not broadly available and explanations about statistics and their significance that are broadly available. As a passionate bettor, I will also apply these statistics to introduce different prediction models and their value considering bets.
Therefore, there is lots of stuff to come and I hope to see you again soon!