Friday, 17 June 2011

Fixtures Friday

Quick post here to highlight how tricky each month looks for last season's top 6 according to the fixtures announced today.

So I assigned each team a "Difficulty Rating" from 1 to 20 based on last season's finishing positions, with Swansea rated 1 and Man Utd rated 20, and plotted the average "Difficulty Rating" per month over the season for Man Utd, Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool.

Early observations include:

Spurs have the most difficult start and most difficult end to the season of the "top 6".
Liverpool's testing month looks to be February, so they'll need to come flying out of the festive season.
While Arsenal and Chelsea have been blessed with the easiest months.

I'll come back to this over the weekend and take a look at all of the team's "Difficulty Timeline".

Don't forget to follow me on twitter: @lewistong fire any questions/comments to me there.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

You can('t) buy success

Prompted by the excellent work of David Conn in today's Guardian article on debt & expenditure I've decided to take a look at the correlation between wage expenditure and success, specifically in this year's Premier League.

The table below shows the rankings of each team in terms of wage bill and points won in the Premier League, and the difference between the two.

With the exception of a handful of clubs either under- (Aston Villa, Sunderland and West Ham) or over-performing (WBA and Stoke), most teams finish in around the position that they should.  In fact the correlation coefficient of the two sets of data (points accumulated and wage bill) is 0.87.

The chart below shows this correlation.

Next I'd like to draw attention to a couple of observations.

Firstly the work of Roy Hodgson who has taken West Brom from a +2 position (they were 17th when he took over, compared to 19th in the wage bill table) to their current +8 position, and the refusal of some in Liverpool to acknowledge this success.

Secondly, I'm sure it will come as little surprise that those teams with the highest wage bills tend also to be those with the highest amounts of net debt (the correlation coefficient between these two sets of data is 0.74).

Since high wages seem to contribute to high levels of debt AND high levels of success it seems UEFA's Financial Fair play rules are seeking to curb trends that are providing medium term success on the pitch, but have the potential to damage clubs and their fans if they were allowed to continue.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Evolution of the Premier League 2010-11 Table - part 2

Following yesterday's article one reader made the following observation; Liverpool are no closer to the team in No.1 position now than they were when Dalglish took over as manager.

Indeed after 20 games Liverpool were 19 points off top spot, and are now 18.  The graph below shows the difference between Liverpool's points total and the team in top spot (Manchester United from fixture 14 onwards) over the season.  The vertical axis has been reversed to show the gap getting smaller as moves "up".

The graph shows that Liverpool were only able to close the gap between themselves and the team at the top of the table on 6 occasions throughout the season (3 under Hodgson and 3 under Dalglish).  Clearly closing the gap on teams above you relies on them dropping points, something I'll come to later.

So you might argue that Liverpool's resurgence has been enhanced by other teams' poor form (i.e Tottenham).

However I intend to show that a) while Liverpool are essentially powerless to prevent the success of clubs above them, they were successful when the opportunities to do so arose and b) due to the fact that teams, by and large, get further from one another over the course of the season; an 18 point gap after 36 games is considerably smaller than a 19 point gap after 20 games.

Obviously it's not enough for Liverpool to win their own games to close the gap, they're reliant on the teams above them to drop points.  On the occasions Liverpool have had opportunity to impact this directly (when playing against those teams), they have performed very well.  If you look at a the mini-league containing the teams currently occupying positions 1-6; if Liverpool win the final game in the series against Tottenham (on Sunday) they'll go top on goal difference. (I got this data using

Only 2 out of the 6 times Liverpool closed the gap on the team in first place was it when they beat that team (Chelsea in November and Man Utd in March), so I'd say they were pretty unlucky on the 2 other occasions they defeated a member of the top 6.

With regards to my point that "an 18 point gap after 36 games is considerably smaller than a 19 point gap after 20 games"; you can see on yesterday's final graph, that teams, early on, are very clustered together and become much more dispersed as the season goes on.  This point is also demonstrated by the following graph, this shows the progression of the standard deviations of teams' points total across the season:

A similar picture is painted when you look at the difference between the top and bottom teams across the season.

So my argument is that a points difference in more clustered division is actually considerably "larger" than a similar points difference in more widely spread division, where the gaps between everyone are larger.

Next time I'm going to look at a different impact of new managers - at Newcastle United.

Follow me on Twitter: @lewistong

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Evolution of the Premier League 2010-11 Table

I thought it'd be interesting to take a look at the accumulation of points by each team over the course of the season.

A few months ago, after Liverpool really started to reap the rewards of Kenny Dalgish's appointment, I had a look at the pattern of their points accumulation and it looked like this:

Large version

Even after only a few games Liverpool's points tally jumped considerably.

Now, near the end of the season it looks like this:

Large version

When considered in the midst of the rest of the league it looks even more impressive.  Indeed, the most striking thing about the next graph is the way in which the teams that occupied the top 5 positions for most of the season (Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City, Spurs) pulled away from the rest of the league from around fixture 17 only for Liverpool's renaissance to force their way back into the leading pack:

Large version