Manchester City FC

Final Sprint towards the Finish Line

Who do you think will be crowned as Champions of 2013-14 season? Had I asked the same question in the starting of the season, the answers would have definitely included Manchester United. But now, it seems genuine title contenders for this season are Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal. So, who among these 4 will finish first.

Premier League Table - As it stands

Premier League Table – As it stands

As it stands, Chelsea leads the race but Manchester City are behind them by 6 points and 3 games in hand. Liverpool and Arsenal are both 4 points behind with a game in hand. Let’s analyze the factors which will now affect the title race and find out which team among the four is favorable to win the title.

INJURY TABLE: GUNNERS ARE GUNNED DOWN BY INJURIES

Ozil, Wilshere, Walcott and Ramsey are injured

Ozil, Wilshere, Walcott and Ramsey are injured

Arsenal is the worst affected among the four by injuries. Ozil, Wilshere, Walcott and Ramsey (all played a minimum of 13 league games this season) are in the injury table. Without these key players, it would be a tough challenge for Gunners. Next on injury troubled teams in Manchester City with Aguero and Nastasic (played a minimum of 13 league games this season) injured. But, they have a big squad enough to cover up couple of players anytime. Though Chelsea and Liverpool aren’t really impacted by injuries and are in an advantage, Chelsea faces a slight disadvantage due to double Red-Card (Willian and Ramires) in the last match against Aston Villa.

FIXTURE CONGESTION: BLUES GET THE BLUES

Chelsea faces a tough fixture ahead

Chelsea faces a tough fixture ahead

Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool has 11 more games (6 home), 10 more games (5 home) and 9 more games (5 home) respectively before Premier League ends. Chelsea on the other hand has to play 10 or 12 games (5 home or 6 home) before Premier League ends depending on their Champions League semi final qualification. Hence, Chelsea and Manchester City are placed with a packed fixture. Among this Chelsea have to travel a lot because of Champions League and that is a big disadvantage.

INSPIRATION: JOSE INSTILS TITLE WINNING MENTALITY

Jose Mourinho proves to be the difference

Jose Mourinho proves to be the difference

Though Jose Mourinho says he doesn’t believe that Chelsea are title contenders this season, he is the only manager with more elite league title winning experience (7 times – 2 in Portugal, 2 in England, 2 in Italy, 1 in Spain). Arsene Wenger (4 times – 1 in France, 3 in England), Manuel Pellegrini (0 times) and Brendan Rodgers (0 times) lack behind him in terms of instilling the winning mentality into their respective teams. At the end of the title race, this is an important advantage for Chelsea and could prove as a real difference.

CURRENT FORM: LIVERPOOL ARE IN RED HOT FORM

Liverpool 2013-14 Goal Tally So Far

Liverpool 2013-14 Goal Tally So Far

Liverpool are currently undefeated in 10 matches scoring 34 goals and are running really strong. They have scored only one goal short of their highest Goals Scored season’s goals tally. With Steven Gerrard’s form in new high levels aided by comrades Sturridge, Suarez and other vibrant Liverpool players, they are in a firm front foot. Arsenal’s recent form has been poor with only 2 wins out of their last 5 league games. Only if they are able to rediscover their form, they will be able to challenge for the title.

Sturridge Suarez Gerrard have been powering Liverpool's season

Sturridge Suarez Gerrard have been powering Liverpool’s season

FIXTURE DIFFICULTY: CHELSEA HAS AN EASY PATH AHEAD

Fixture Difficulty Levels for EPL Top Four

Fixture Difficulty Levels for EPL Top Four

The above table is created by how the opponent has performed so far in home and away. From the upcoming fixtures for the four teams, Chelsea has only two tough fixtures but they have predominantly lost points to easy opponents than tough opponents this season. Manchester City on the other hand have the toughest fixtures in the rest of the season. Arsenal and Liverpool have almost same difficulty levels, but Liverpool have all the tough fixtures at home whereas Arsenal have 2 of the 3 tough ones away from home.

Manchester City face a tough fixture ahead

Manchester City face a tough fixture ahead

With these factors, it clearly seems Liverpool and Chelsea have an advantage in this season’s title race & Arsenal and Manchester City have a tough ride in this final sprint. It will definitely turnout to be one of the best title fights ever.

Share your views and opinions on the title race in the comments section.

Breaking the myth of Fixture Congestion

It’s about resting up and getting ready to go. I don’t know about the Premier League but other countries seem to look after their teams representing them in the Champions League. I’m not sure we do so much here.”

complained Frank Lampard. But is it the reality? How far do the other countries accommodate their fixtures in accordance with that of Champions League (CL)? Findings on analysis seem to paint a different picture! For this analysis, the scope will be restricted to England, Germany and Spain clubs’ (each representing 4 teams in CL) schedules this season (2013-14).

Analyzing the average time between kick-off of CL and other games (League and Cup competitions), the following points are found out:

Avg. time between games' kick-off (CL and others)

Avg. time between games’ kick-off (CL and others)

FIXTURE CONGESTED CLUBS: Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, Arsenal and Bayern Munich are the clubs with least average time between games. Real Madrid have a deep squad enough to rotate players and play their usual game. Arsenal is already struggling to cope up with the fixtures. Bayern Munich with their strong position in the league can afford to rotate players according to their need.

LEAST AFFECTED CLUBS: Manchester United (Even without the recent fixture adjustment, their numbers are pretty high), Barcelona, Athletico Madrid and Chelsea are the clubs with the highest average resting time between games. The perception of Barcelona and United getting a preference in the fixture scheduling seems true. Frank Lampard’s complaint of English clubs not getting the support from The Football Association doesn’t seem to be substantiated with facts.

Analysis on averages could be skewed. Hence, it’s good to have an eye on the distribution of the time gaps between the games as well.

No. of times with less than three days between games

No. of times with less than three days between games

Real Madrid are the most affected team since they have to play six times with the gap between two games less than 3 days. This is really grueling for the players. Chelsea, though experiences a higher average time gap, is forced four times to play within a span of 3 days. In contrast, Arsenal which had a lower time gap has been forced to play within a span of 3 days only twice. 

Time gap analysis between games

Time gap analysis between games

Although, Chelsea is stressed out with games within 3 days the overall picture suggests it’s not very much stressed compared to its peers. If you consider the gap of 4 days, Chelsea enjoys the second best fixture schedule only next to Real Sociedad who are already out of the competition. Even Manchester City schedule is stressed out: for 11 times, 2 games are being scheduled withing a gap of 4 days. The same is the situation of Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal and Bayern Munich. This pattern also hints out that Spain clubs have a better accommodating fixture schedule than England and Germany ones.

If you see the overall picture,

Country wise Resting time analysis between games

Country wise Resting time analysis between games

1. German clubs have a tight fixture schedule followed by Spanish clubs and English clubs in terms of average resting time between games.

2. Only 59% of times, Spanish clubs are forced to play 2 games within a time span of 4 days. This is markedly higher for German clubs (73%) and English clubs (66%).

Hence the verdict is,

If at all, there needs to be support from the Football Association in terms of scheduling games in accordance to UEFA Champions League fixtures schedule, it’s the German clubs who need more support than English and Spanish clubs from its Football Association.

Football Associations' ranking in terms of scheduling support

Football Associations’ ranking in terms of scheduling support

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Premier League Analysis: How much does the “LITTLE HORSE” cost?

Jose Mourinho said “Two horses and a little horse in the race”. Manuel Pellegrini responded “Little, but Rich horse”. Are they joking? Managers of two heavy weight teams formed on millions of pounds are fighting over Financial Mediocrity! Let’s figure out the real scenario by analyzing the cost incurred in assembling the Premier League top 7 clubs. 

Premier League Top 7 Squad - Average Purchase Cost

Premier League Top 7 Squad – Average Purchase Cost

RED DEVILS SQUAD IS COSTLY TOO: Manchester United squad players (12.04 m Pounds per player) costed them almost twice more than Tottenham (7.74 m Pounds per player), Arsenal (7.25 m Pounds per player) & Liverpool (6.36 m Pounds per player) players and 6 times Everton squad players’ (2.71 m Pounds per player) average cost. They can’t afford to lose Champions League spot with such a rich squad. 

The average cost is not always spread to all players in the squad. Splitting the team into its main XI based on number of appearances in Premier League this season, the disparity between the main XI and other players’ cost in the squad shows the following observations:

Difference between Main XI and Other players' average costs

Difference between Main XI and Other players’ average costs

1. Youth Development Pro Clubs: Arsenal and Liverpool are showing a more interest in the development of young players through youth academy than their peers.

2. Chelsea spent money equally for Bench players and Main XI: Though Chelsea stands second in terms of overall squad average cost, they stand first in terms of average cost of players in bench.

3. High risk of losing main XI players: Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton are the clubs which have high disparity between the main XI and the rest of the squad.

Considering the least costing 11 players from the squads, the following observations were noticed:

Average Purchase Cost - Least cost players

Average Purchase Cost – Least cost players

1. Chelsea and Manchester City squads’ least cost 11 players cost more than Liverpool’s average cost of the overall squad. 

2. Liverpool, Everton and Arsenal have more players signed from youth academy or on loan relatively.

3. Manchester United’s least cost 11 players cost almost the same as Everton’s average cost of overall squad.

By position of players, the analysis leads to the following insights:

Average Purchase Cost by Position

Average Purchase Cost by Position

1. Arsenal is the only team to have spent very high cost on Midfielders compared to Forwards and Defenders

2. Strangely, the leaky Manchester United defense has the highest cost spent player across the top 7 clubs.

3. Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool have spent very high cost per Forward than per Midfielder. 

4. Arsenal have forwards and defenders with almost same cost per person.

5. Arsenal’s forwards cost much lesser than Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool.

Data used for the analysis could be found in Premier League Players Purchase Cost Data. Do share your views on this article in the comments section.

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February Fixture Analyzer – Premier League Analysis

What is GREEN GRID?

Fixture Analyzer or Green Grid is an analysis done on the monthly fixtures of Premier League teams based on how difficult it is to accumulate points against their opponents, to score goals against their opponents and to defend goals against their opponents. In the Green Grid, the GREEN colored cells are the ones with (relatively) easy fixtures and the RED ones are the tough fixtures. More the number of GREEN cells for a team, easier the fixtures for the month will be.

GREEN GRID – February Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Points

GREEN GRID – February Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Points

Observations from Fixture Analyzer based on Opponent’s league points so far:

  1. Among the top 3 teams, Chelsea have the toughest task in terms of getting points in February. This puts Manchester City and Arsenal in an advantage to secure more points and gain lead with Chelsea.
  2. In the fight for Europa League spot, Southampton have favorable fixtures in February whereas Newcastle United have a tough month in the league. Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United have fixtures with medium difficulty.
  3. Considering the first two scenarios, with a relatively easy fixture for Liverpool, we may expect Liverpool to stay in top four at the end of the month.
  4. Bottom Three Shake-up: We may expect a shake up in the bottom three positions as the current teams in relegation zone, West Ham, Fulham and Cardiff city, have easy fixtures than the ones (Crystal Palace, Stoke City and Sunderland) immediately above them.
GREEN GRID – February Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Goals Scored

GREEN GRID – February Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Goals Scored

How easy/difficult is it for the teams to be solid defensively?

  1. Defensive organization of Arsenal and Chelsea will be undergoing a lot of attack from the opponents. It will be difficult to concede less.
  2. Among the top 9 teams, Manchester City, Manchester United and Southampton face opponents who haven’t scored much in the league. Their defense players have an easier task at hand.
  3. Crystal Palace, Stoke City and Sunderland are the teams which will be thundered with goals by opponents in February.
GREEN GRID – February Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Goals Conceded

GREEN GRID – February Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Goals Conceded

How easy/difficult is it for the teams to score goals in January?

  1. Tottenham and Sunderland will face a tough time to score goals in February
  2. Chelsea and Newcastle United among the top 9 teams face teams which are very solid defensively. Their strike force will find it an uphill task to score against opponents.
  3. Southampton is the team in the top half with less resistance to score goals. After that, relatively Liverpool and Manchester City have lesser resistant forces from the opponents.

Share your views regarding the February fixtures of Barclays Premier League.

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January Fixture Analyzer – Premier League Analysis

GREEN GRID - January Fixture Analyzer - Opponent's Points

GREEN GRID – January Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Points

January Fixture Analyzer tells you the level of difficulty your club will encounter in terms of scoring a goal, preventing a goal and score points in the Barclays Premier League Fixtures for the month of January.

  1. Sunderland has the easiest fixture as all the four games are relatively easy. So, we can expect Sunderland to come out of the relegation zone by the end of January.
  2. Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Fulham as well have easy fixtures. These 5 teams have 3 easy games out of their 4 games. Arsenal will be expected to stay in the top of the table by January end.
  3. Manchester United, Aston Villa and Cardiff City have the toughest fixtures amongst all the teams. If United gets favorable outcome at the end of January, they will be able to challenge for Top Four or even for title.
  4. Chelsea, Everton, Hull City and West Ham also have tough fixtures in January. Chelsea’s biggest challenge will be to remain in the title race by the end of January.

How easy/difficult is it for the teams to score goals in January?

  1. Arsenal, Swansea, Stoke City, Crystal Palace and Sunderland face teams which have so far conceded more goals each game. These teams hence have a good chance to score more goals.
  2. Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Hull City and Cardiff City face teams which have so far conceded very few goals. Hence, these five teams will face a difficult task to increase their goal tally for the season.
GREEN GRID - January Fixture Analyzer - Opponent's Goals Conceded

GREEN GRID – January Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Goals Conceded

How easy/difficult is it for the teams to be solid defensively?

  1. Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Norwich City, Crystal Palace, Fulham and Sunderland are going to face teams which have scored fewer goals so far. Liverpool and Manchester United among these teams are facing teams which score fewer goals and concede fewer goals. Therefore, mostly these teams’ games might be low scoring ones.
  2. Chelsea, Everton, Southampton, Hull City, Aston Villa, Cardiff City and West Ham are going to face teams which have scored many goals relatively so far.
GREEN GRID - January Fixture Analyzer - Opponent's Goals Scored

GREEN GRID – January Fixture Analyzer – Opponent’s Goals Scored

Premier League Analysis: Solid First Half & Leaky Second Half

Goals conceded by Top 9 teams in different time periods of games

Goals conceded by Top 9 teams in different time periods of games

Time analysis on the goals conceded by the top 9 teams of Barclays Premier League tells us:

  1. Predominantly, most goals are conceded in the second half. This could be because the top teams generally are difficult to break and it takes a good amount of time for the opponent to build up and break the defense. These teams’ defense are mostly solid in first half and leaky in second half.
  2. Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton conceded almost 30% of their goals in the last 15 minutes of the game. Including the injury time as well, Arsenal and Manchester City have conceded 35% and 39% of their goals after 75 minutes of the game.
  3. Interestingly, 72% of goals conceded by Liverpool are from second half. Either they are very solid in defense in the first half or they are very ruthless in attack in the first half.
  4. Chelsea and Manchester United have been conceding many goals in the start of second half. It seems the half time pep talk of Jose Mourinho and David Moyes is counterproductive.
  5. Southampton is the only team to have conceded more than one-fourth of the goals in the first 15 minutes of the game.
  6. Liverpool and Southampton haven’t yet conceded in 31′ – 45′ and Manchester City hasn’t yet conceded in the first 15 minutes.

Combining this analysis with the Time Analysis on Goals scored by Top EPL teams gives interesting insights.

  1. For Arsenal and Everton, whenever they attacked more, they were more vulnerable and conceded more goals too.
  2. For Liverpool, the first half is for their attack and the second half is for their opponent to attack.
  3. For Chelsea, the last 15 minutes is the golden period for scoring as almost 30% of goals came from that.
  4. Tottenham’s 33% of goals came in the start of second half. Surprisingly, it seems Andre Villas Boas didn’t do bad in the half time talk, but he couldn’t help his defense conceding goals in all the periods. And Spurs haven’t yet scored in the first 15 minutes of the game.
  5. Newcastle United, Manchester United and Southampton have almost a similar pattern of goals scored in different periods. Their mid 60 minutes had most goals spread almost evenly.

An updated analysis diagram in shown below:

Goals scored by Top 9 teams in different time periods of games

Goals scored by Top 9 teams in different time periods of games

Premier League analysis – Big Influencers in Top 9 teams

Premier League Top 9 Teams Goal Split by Position

Premier League Top 9 Teams Goal Split by Position

There is always an instinct in us that says so-and-so club’s midfield/forward is solid and they contribute a lot to the team’s goals in relative to other positions. In this article, we will try to validate or invalidate some of our instincts.

FORWARDS DOMINATED TEAMS:

  1. 82% of Manchester United goals have come from the strikers (mainly Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie). Their lack of goals from the Midfield is a big concern and has affected their season much.
  2. Because of the huge influence of Suarez and Sturridge, Liverpool’s 68% of goals came up from strikers. Absence of any of these players would be a big impact to the club.
  3. Other teams where strikers are the big influencers are Southampton, Newcastle United and Manchester City.

MIDFIELDERS DOMINATED TEAMS:

  1. Chelsea is the team with high domination of Midfielders. The biggest concern for Chelsea is that their defenders have scored and equal number of goals as their strikers. If their strikers aren’t scaling up their goal tally, challenging for title would become an uphill task.
  2. Arsenal Midfield has scored 60% of their goals. As a testimony to their attacking form, 93% of their goals have come up from their forwards and midfielders. Maybe as they do their job, defense does their job effectively and helped in conceding very less number of goals.
  3. Though Tottenham seems dominated from the Midfield, the number of goals they scored is so less to come up with such a conclusion.

EQUALLY DOMINANT TEAMS:

  1. Everton has 82% of their goals from their Strikers and Midfielders. Their goal split is almost even that they both are equally contributing to the success the club is enjoying this season so far. There is a strong belief that Lukaku is the main contributor for Everton’s goals and that is 100% true as almost one-third of Everton’s goals are scored by him.

Share with us your opinions on the same!

Top Strike Partnerships – 2013-14 season

There are 3 strike partnership who have started strongly in terms of their contribution of goals this season.

  1. Liverpool’s Luis Suárez – Daniel Sturridge partnership contributed 21 goals
  2. Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero – Álvaro Negredo partnership contributed 21 goals
  3. Manchester United’s Robin van Persie – Wayne Rooney partnership contributed 20 goals

Among these 3, Liverpool and Manchester United have more dependance on these strikers than Manchester City. If fit till end, these partnerships will take their teams to the title battle in an interesting and a highly competitive manner.

Barclays Premier League 2013-14 - Top Strike Partnerships

Barclays Premier League 2013-14 – Top Strike Partnerships

 

Premier League Analysis – Scoring early winner versus Snatching late winner

Percentage of goals scored by Top 8 teams in different periods of games

Percentage of goals scored by Top 8 teams in different periods of games

1. ARSENAL: Gunners generally build up their play and become highly effective at the turn of the one hour mark

2. LIVERPOOL: Reds strike early on and seal the winner comfortably by half time

3. SOUTHAMPTON: Saints build up in the first 15 minutes and score in the next 15 minutes. They also try to snatch goals at the last 15 minutes of the game.

4. CHELSEA: Blues build up very slowly for almost an hour and then strike a blow on the opponents at the end of the game.

5. MANCHESTER UNITED: Red Devils are almost similar to Southampton in scoring pattern, but they also exhibit strong attack during the injury time in both the halves.

6. EVERTON: Toffees are pretty much similar to Chelsea in terms of scoring pattern.

7. TOTTENHAM SPURS: White Lilies start their second half strongly (assuming AVB does his half time magic talk).

8. MANCHESTER CITY: Citizens also start their second half effectively but generally begin the match slowly.