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kiwi1691 last won the day on September 14 2017

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  1. Pathetic post. Johnson, saved the UK from Corbyn the rabid Anti-semite and the millions of racists who supported Corbyn the Nazi.
  2. Considering Roman's long history of quiet altruism I would be very surprised if Chelsea followed those clubs, Roman is a very different man than Joe Lewis, or the people behind FSG. Bloomberg names Roman Abramovich Russia's most charitable billionaire https://www.rbth.com/business/2013/04/29/bloomberg_names_roman_abramovich_russias_most_charitable_billionaire_25567.html Roman Abramovich donates millions to the Jewish Agency to combat antisemitism worldwide https://www.thejc.com/news/israel/roman-abramovich-donates-millions-to-the-jewish-agency-in-order-to-combat-antisemitism-worldwide-1.485337 Like I said, quite different to Joe Lewis or FSG.
  3. Covert scouts, modern data and Marina the leader: Chelsea’s transfer revolution https://theathletic.com/1713452/2020/04/01/frank-lampard-chelsea-recruitment/ There is one story that illustrates Chelsea’s recruitment strategy in the Frank Lampard era. It comes from the agent of one of Europe’s brightest young players, who had been made aware that his client was first choice to be Chelsea’s long-term solution in his position. Chelsea’s interest in the player dated back several years and it was clear they were serious. Scott McLachlan, the club’s head of international scouting, kept in contact, letting the agent know when they were coming to watch and compile further information on his client. The agent was keen to do a deal and optimistic the player’s club could be persuaded to sell. But then, this season, the situation suddenly changed. Lampard brought through an academy graduate in the player’s position, giving him regular first-team minutes and the opportunity to prove that he was every bit as promising. The academy graduate, having been handed a new long-term contract, went from strength to strength and is regarded as integral to Chelsea’s future. Chelsea’s interest in the player formally ended with a phone call from McLachlan to the agent, in which the message was: “Frank is happy with X (the kid) coming through.” Despite his relative inexperience, Lampard is leading the conversation over who Chelsea do and don’t try to sign. He has further cultivated a healthy working relationship with the director Marina Granovskaia, and is regarded internally as a real asset in persuading transfer targets to join. “I was in contact with him for a few weeks,” Hakim Ziyech said of Lampard in an interview with Ajax shortly after his £39 million transfer to Chelsea was announced. “At first, it was mainly by phone. We had a few long conversations about his approach, his playing style, the club and about me. Later on, we texted a lot. “He was such a big player and he was a midfielder, so I can learn a lot from him. I have a lot to learn. I had a good feeling after I talked with him and that feeling only became stronger. There was no doubt in my mind.” Lampard pushed for Ziyech, as well as other players, to be signed in January. Unlike more combustible previous Chelsea head coaches, however, he did not lash out at the board publicly or privately when no reinforcements arrived, instead recognising the club’s efforts in pursuing the names he requested, as well as understanding how difficult it is for any top club to do deals that make sense for quality, long-term targets in the winter market. Chelsea believe that Lampard’s youth movement this season will save them millions in future transfer fees, as well as providing a vibrant young home-grown foundation on which to build a team that contends for the Premier League and Champions League in the near future. But they also know the importance of getting the next transfer window right. The pressure is on, and not simply because they have spent the last two on the sidelines. The disastrous summer of 2017 remains fresh in the minds of many supporters, and Chelsea are still trying to extricate themselves from the consequences of some of those failed deals. Finding any buyer for Danny Drinkwater may yet be Granovskaia’s greatest achievement to date. Yet the picture painted of Chelsea’s recruitment system from a wide range of conversations with scouts, agents and rival football executives is one that stands up well to comparisons with the most modern, slick transfer operations. If they fail again, it won’t be due to a lack of resources, effort or thinking. McLachlan has been Chelsea’s head of international scouting since 2011, but the scope and nature of his role has evolved over the years. When he reported to technical director Michael Emenalo, he was granted considerable autonomy to identify weaknesses in the scouting and analytics departments, and to make the necessary changes. The recruitment structure at the time was convoluted. Each new manager voiced their transfer preferences, but owner Roman Abramovich had a tight-knit group of football advisors — including former manager Bobby Campbell and Dutch scout Piet de Visser — who influenced decisions. Emenalo’s job was to mediate, adding recommendations from the scouting system and his own network of contacts. The results were muddled and inconsistent; within a year of committing £50 million to an ill-fated move for Fernando Torres, Chelsea spent far less combined to acquire rising Belgian stars Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois on the recommendation of De Visser. Emenalo pursued his idea of building a large pool of loan players, to act both as a developmental pathway and an additional source of revenue. McLachlan’s focus was on making Chelsea’s process of talent identification more data and analytics-driven. A graduate of London South Bank University with a masters degree in sports coaching science, he had worked as head of performance analysis at Southampton and as a technical scout at Fulham, building a reputation as one of the pioneers of performance profiling — the process of analysing an athlete’s performance to identify strengths and weaknesses — in football. “I am going to four or five matches a week, because I don’t want to lose touch with the essence of the game, but at Chelsea my role has changed,” he said in Michael Calvin’s 2013 book The Nowhere Men. “It is more managerial. I have about 20 scouts working to me. It is my job to educate them scientifically, to tailor their observations and analysis to data presentation. I’ve got to stop them using silly cliches, like the boy does this and that, and get them to focus on trends and averages.” McLachlan also spoke of the dangers of a lack of due diligence in deals like the one for Torres. “What is crazy is that, to pick a moment in time, £269 million was spent in the transfer window in January 2011,” he added. “How much of that was down to quantitative analysis of the facts? How much objectivity was used in the signing decision? How much involved real scrutiny of the data? If you are going to make a capital investment of £50 million in one player, how are you going to discover what you are getting for your money?” By the time Emenalo resigned in November 2017, McLachlan’s remit had expanded to include the UK scouting operation. Ever since, he has reported directly to Granovskaia, and the lack of urgency to appoint a new technical director — technical and performance adviser Petr Cech has different responsibilities, despite the similarity of his job title — underlines the club’s satisfaction with how this more streamlined structure is functioning. McLachlan speaks frequently to Granovskaia, to Cech and to Lampard, who has taken a more active interest in the work of the recruitment department than previous head coaches. Lampard’s approachable demeanour and desire to offer a “willing ear”, as one source describes it, to scouting recommendations have been appreciated, and this more collegiate atmosphere has prompted hope that damaging tensions over transfer strategy with past managers will not be repeated. There is broad respect in European football for McLachlan, who remains driven by a desire for self-improvement: he is enrolled in the FA’s Level 5 course for technical directors. His reputation is founded on the Chelsea scouting system he has re-moulded to his own specifications — a system regarded as one of the smartest, most efficient and forward-thinking among elite clubs. It’s possible that you could find yourself sitting next to a Chelsea scout at a match. You may already have done so, and simply not realised. Unlike a lot of clubs who formally request scout accreditation, Chelsea more often buy a ticket in the stands to make sure no one knows they are watching. They wear nothing to identify who they represent, and are under strict instructions to keep a low profile. When notes are made on smartphones or iPads, technological precautions are taken to ensure they are not seen by the wrong eyes. At times they still record their observations with pen and paper, but even if you did manage to get your hands on a Chelsea scouting report, you would not be able to read it. Like several other top clubs, they have developed over years a language of code and abbreviations that no one on the outside can understand. To help maintain this veil of secrecy, McLachlan does not use scouting consultants who also provide their services to other clubs. Chelsea’s scouts work for them, and for them alone. Their reports feed into a bespoke scouting and data analysis system, built by a member of Chelsea’s recruitment department regarded as one of the best in the industry. McLachlan’s team at Chelsea’s training ground in Cobham then sift through the sea of data — a combination of live scouting from around the world, video assessment using Wyscout and other resources, and advanced performance metrics — to identify the players who should be added to the list of potential first-team targets. Robustness is a quality particularly valued in Chelsea’s scouting assessment. They pay close attention to a player’s injury record and whether they are capable of playing three matches in the space of a week — the kind of challenge English football frequently poses. Cesar Azpilicueta’s appearance record since moving to Stamford Bridge in 2012 is held up internally as an example, while durability was also a defining characteristic of Eden Hazard and Willian’s careers at the club. McLachlan can make his player recommendations in transfer discussions with Lampard, Cech and Granovskaia, but central to Chelsea’s overall recruitment strategy is that it must ultimately serve the needs of the head coach. It is part of the reason why Jorginho accompanied Sarri to Stamford Bridge in 2018, and why Lampard has been able emphasise targets that complement the young academy core he is trying to build around. Emenalo moved to separate Chelsea’s senior and youth recruitment operations, but since his departure the two have become more integrated. The emphasis is on building players towards one journey from the under-9 age group to first-team level, and so while head of youth development Neil Bath and his assistant Jim Fraser are directly responsible for all academy business, there is frequent communication with McLachlan and Cech. In the age of Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland — an era when players between the ages of 17 and 20 are increasingly ready to shine at first-team level and are priced accordingly — such joined-up thinking is vital. Youth scouting is increasingly regarded as a separate specialism in modern football, and Chelsea are widely seen as the masters. Domestically, their ability to spot, secure and develop talent at an early age is borne out by the presence of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori in Lampard’s squad, while Andreas Christensen and former Chelsea defender Nathan Ake are testament to the club’s success at attracting promising teenagers from across Europe. Even accounting for the transfer bans FIFA handed the club in 2009 and 2019 for violating transfer rules regarding foreign players under the age of 18, their aggression in this area has worked for them more often than against them. McLachlan empowers his team — headed up by his second-in-command James Bell-Walker, a former scout for Everton and Bolton who lives in the north west but spends most of his week at Cobham — but he also insists on watching any potential senior recruit several times. Assessing the player’s temperament and personality are an important part of the process — one agent told The Athletic that McLachlan had revealed he had watched a fly-on-the-wall documentary series focused on the player’s club to see if he could glean anything about his character. Part of McLachlan’s job is to do any due diligence relating to a player of interest and to come up with an estimated cost of any deal. At that point, if it is something Chelsea are minded to commit to, the relevant parties are informed that Granovskaia will call them to begin the final negotiations. Granovskaia’s prominence has been the constant in a decade of evolution for Chelsea’s recruitment process. The person entrusted with managing the club’s day-to-day football operations by Abramovich when she joined the board in 2010, her voice has grown more authoritative as she has established a reputation as one of the game’s most capable transfer dealmakers. Among those who have worked with or against her, the consensus is that Granovskaia is firm but fair in negotiations, and formidably dedicated to her job. “She’s constantly working,” one agent says. “It’s not uncommon to get a reply from her at midnight if she hasn’t had a chance to get back to you during the day.” An executive at a rival club says: “I’ve been involved in three or four deals with Marina and she’s always been good to her word. Every time I dealt with her, it was very straight forward, very business-like, very professional and she never went back on her word. I can’t say that about everybody else in this business.” Granovskaia does much of her transfer communication via phone calls, and is not known for engaging in tricks or mind games during negotiations. She states her position in plain terms and makes it clear when there is no room for manoeuvre. Abramovich is kept updated on all the key decisions Chelsea make in the transfer market, but her judgment is trusted. As a number of high-profile Chelsea players have discovered, Granovskaia never allows emotion or sentimentality to cloud her decision-making. If there is a good, fair deal to be made in the interests of her club, she will do it. If there isn’t, she will not be convinced otherwise. Diego Costa sent her a barrage of WhatsApp messages during his self-imposed exile in Brazil pleading to be allowed to join Atletico Madrid, but the transfer did not happen until the money was right. One agent went so far as to describe Granovskaia’s approach as “cut-throat”, though most of those who spoke to The Athletic did not use those words. The over-riding impression is of a serious dealmaker who is widely respected within the business, even by those with whom she has engaged in more fraught negotiations. She has worked productively with most of the major agents, and some have done a lot of business with Chelsea in recent years — Kia Joorabchian and Giuliano Bertolucci represent many of the Brazilians who have come and gone from Stamford Bridge, while Federico Pastorello helped facilitate the appointments of Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri. Pini Zahavi has had long-standing connections with Abramovich. Relations with Mino Raiola became strained in the fallout from Chelsea’s failed attempt to bring Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge in 2017, when it was felt that he had steered his client towards a more lucrative offer from Manchester United at the 11th hour. But overall, Granovskaia does not favour particular agents and Chelsea’s recruitment is not regarded as agent-led — the suitability of the player is what matters. Granovskaia chairs Chelsea’s internal discussions about transfer strategy, but does not overstep her brief in pretending to know the strengths and weaknesses of individual players. She understands that her expertise lies in the business of transfers, and relies on the input of the first-team head coach and scouting reports presented by McLachlan to take the lead in identifying club targets. Once a player is identified, she initiates talks and makes the final decision on the deal. Her biggest achievement in the role has been maximising Chelsea’s income for players deemed surplus to requirements, generating £397.4 million profit from player sales since 2013 — a vast sum that has provided a key source of income to help keep the club competitive near the top of the Premier League in the age of Financial Fair Play. Perhaps her most notable miscalculation was the sequence of events that led to Chelsea making Kepa Arrizabalaga the most expensive goalkeeper ever in the summer of 2018. Talks over a deal with Roma for Alisson, the club’s first-choice target, reached an advanced stage but Granovskaia had still hoped to convince Courtois to stay. Liverpool capitalised on their rivals’ hesitation to snatch Alisson, Courtois went on strike and Kepa was No 2 on the recruitment list. The only option left was to pay the £71.6 million buyout clause in his contract with Athletic Bilbao. But indecision is not a trap that Granovskaia often falls into. If they feel a fair deal can be done for a player they want, Chelsea tend to move quickly: their speed in reaching an agreement with Ajax to sign Ziyech impressed recruitment professionals elsewhere in Europe, where Premier League clubs have a reputation for being too reactive and ultimately paying over the odds. It’s fair to wonder how this widespread respect for Granovskaia, McLachlan and Chelsea’s broader recruitment system squares with the undeniable howlers that transpired in the summer window of 2017. Of the five players signed at a combined cost of almost £180 million (Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Drinkwater, Antonio Rudiger and Davide Zappacosta) only Rudiger still factors into the club’s plans. Each deal has its own context. Morata was a worthy but ultimately lost bet on an elite talent, a bet that Chelsea only made once Lukaku chose United. Bakayoko was a player with potential who could yet blossom somewhere, but he arrived injured and never adapted. Drinkwater and Zappacosta, the least defensible, were late signings made to try and appease Conte, who had spent the summer furiously lobbying for squad reinforcements. Rudiger has become a solid contributor. No matter how scientific your approach to recruitment, you can never turn it into an exact science. Chelsea’s record since offers greater cause for encouragement: Kepa is the only senior signing to underperform the fee paid for him and, at 25, still has time to improve. Mateo Kovacic has been one of the best players this season, while Jorginho has proven his usefulness was not tied to Sarri and his system. Christian Pulisic showed enough flashes prior to injury to suggest he can be a significant part of the next great team at Stamford Bridge. The biggest test of Chelsea’s senior recruitment is coming, but there is a quiet confidence that they will prove equal to the challenge. McLachlan’s data-driven scouting network has never carried more weight behind the scenes, or found a first-team head coach more receptive than Lampard. As long as they can find the players capable of taking this team to the next level, Granovskaia’s track record indicates she is capable of delivering them.
  4. https://www.sportsdirect.com/nike-chelsea-fourth-shirt-2020-377440#colcode=37744018 Only showing Large size
  5. There are right to light issues with the neighbours. To add capacity in such a small plot of land requires digging down. Digging down requires a new stadium.
  6. From replies to your tweet, this Mohamed Bouhafsi is the football chief editor at RMC Sport.
  7. This site has full matches available including classic matches https://www.fullmatchesandshows.com https://www.fullmatchesandshows.com/2020/03/18/ucl-classics-chelsea-v-barcelona-semi-finals-2nd-leg-6th-may-2009/ https://www.fullmatchesandshows.com/2020/03/24/epl-classic-match-tottenham-v-chelsea-20th-march-2008/
  8. Unwritten: What is speed in football and how do you measure it? https://theathletic.com/1703178/2020/03/27/speed-football-premier-league-fast-fastest-player/ Speed is an aspect of football that is so key, and yet so infrequently written about. There are various ways that teams can use speed to their advantage: attacking upfield fast, getting shots away quickly after turning the ball over, or moving the ball quickly to pull the opposition out of position. Rapid movements, fleet feet and quick thinking: the Premier League has always been a league where the use of speed (or lack thereof, in some cases) has lead to greatness — Leicester City’s title-winning season, for example, was built on speed. It is something that’s deemed so important, yet from a statistical point of view it’s rarely mentioned. The first kind of speed is the one we all know, and likely had to repeat again and again in physics lessons in school: ”speed equals distance over time”. To start measuring how fast a side attacks, let’s first determine what a slow attack looks like. Take Manchester City’s 44-pass goal against Manchester United back in November 2018. This move took City one minute and 55 seconds from start to finish. They moved the ball a total distance of 699 metres, for a territorial gain of just 42 metres (how far the ball was actually moved up the field). Taking the territorial gain and the total duration of the passing sequence, the direct speed (how fast the ball moved upfield) can be calculated. This City goal, while aesthetically pleasing, is on the super slow side, clocking up just 0.38 m/s, and is one of the slowest goals in recent memory. If City’s goal that day is the tortoise, the hare is Leicester’s fourth goal against Aston Villa in the 4-1 drubbing back in December: With Ricardo Pereira (21) picking up the loose ball and sending it long, Dennis Praet picks up the loose header from Villa’s Douglas Luiz and sends Jamie Vardy on his way. This move comprised of just two passes (and only one of them is complete, violating one of the commandments) and took 11.5 seconds from start to finish. Moving 86.7m upfield, this goal was reminiscent of Leicester teams of yesteryear, with a direct speed of 7.5 m/s. Calculating these metrics over every eligible shot in the Premier League in the past five seasons, we can see which is the fastest attack in terms of raw distance over time. The criteria used here is all shots that have come from open play, that aren’t rebounds, and don’t come from moves that only cover a tiny amount of ground (e.g. a goalkeeper getting tackled and the ball put into an empty net). Leicester’s title-winning team are the fastest, with moves averaging 3.9 m/s. They also dominate the top five with the 2016-17 and 2017-18 teams included. Where Leicester differ, though, is the absence of many passes in their moves leading to shots. Their passes per sequence is the lowest by a long way compared to the other teams (the lowest in the dataset, in fact) and shows how different Claudio Ranieri’s team was when it came to turning defence into attack. Essentially, they moved the ball by carrying it forward, with Vardy scoring more goals following a carry of five metres or more than any other player in the Premier League that season. Sean Dyche’s Burnley in 2018-19 sit third in the table by this measure, with their way of attacking quickly being slightly different to that of Leicester. While Leicester’s quickness was born out of long passing and ball carrying, Burnley progressed their attacks through even longer passes and winning possession from second balls. The inclusion of Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United isn’t overly surprising, given the team is set up to absorb pressure and attack from deep, yet their attacking approach is different again. Objectively, they are the most passive pressing team in the Premier League this season, allowing the opposition 19 passes before sticking a foot in and attempting to win it back. They also start their attacking moves from the second deepest position in the league, after Arsenal. With Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin as the two key attacking outlets in transition, Newcastle look to run the ball upfield, with Almiron and Saint-Maximin as the 3rd and 8th most willing runners in terms of distance-per-carry: Moving the ball upfield with speed is one way that a team can be quick, but another is turning defence into attack quickly and taking shots soon after turning the ball over. Taking advantage of these transitional moments is key to creating shooting opportunities, and speed of thought and speed of reactions are the tools required. Defining these moments when teams win the ball back and shoot quickly is relatively straightforward — any shot that comes from the ball being recovered in open play and taken within 15 seconds of the sequence starting is counted. Here’s the fastest teams in the last five seasons in terms of turning defence into attack quickly: Naturally, this lists consists of clubs that press high up the field, or at least used to. Jurgen Klopp’s early seasons at Liverpool were when Liverpool’s press was at its most intense, which is a similar story to Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs. Manchester United buck the trend slightly. This season, they don’t exactly fit the bill in terms of a high-pressing side, but in Daniel James, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, they have the youngest (and arguably fastest) collection of attacking talent this season. Being able to turn the ball over and attack at speed is another way of getting included here, similar to Leicester’s title-winners from 2015-16. Chelsea’s inclusion in 2016 is intriguing, given it’s Antonio Conte first year managing the team, and also the first year of N’Golo Kante in midfield. Eden Hazard had his joint-best year in terms of scoring, as did Diego Costa, as Chelsea cruised to the title. Lastly, teams can use speed to their advantage through crisp ball movement — letting the ball do the work — to carve open opportunities to score. There’s the caveat that this measure is far from perfect — with the absence of a timestamp of when the ball is received in the data, these statistics don’t take into account the time that a player is on the ball and the time that the ball is on the move (i.e. has been passed). Nonetheless, the table of fast-tempo sides below makes for interesting debate. To also cater for messier moves in the data (and on the field) only those which last 15 seconds or more are included. To approximate tempo here, we take the duration of an attacking sequence and divide it by the number of passes that take place within it. A quicker tempo move is one that has less time between passes. Of two sequences that each last 20 seconds, the one with five passes and a tempo of four seconds per pass is quicker than the other sequence consisting of just two passes and a tempo of ten seconds per pass. Arsene Wenger’s final year at Arsenal coincided with Arsenal having the fastest team for ball movement, with an average of 2.8 seconds per pass. Although the passing may have been of the U-shaped, painful variety, it was still done at a relatively high tempo. Pep’s City also feature three times in here, which passes the eye test given how they look to pull opponent’s from left to right, waiting for the right moment to play through the lines and carve open a scoring chance. Notably, the tempo at City under Pep compared to Pellegrini has changed a fair amount, with the latter’s side averaging 3.2 seconds per-pass, the highest of any City side in the past five seasons. These measures, however, are partly stylistic instead of being indicative of great attacking sides. While Fulham of 2018-19 had a relatively high tempo, and an attack good enough for mid-table last year, the defence was ultimately too flimsy to keep them afloat. Speed of movement, reactions, and of the ball itself are just three ways that the fastest teams in the Premier League can be labelled as “fast”. It’s not always a winning strategy to be quick. Sides that play at speed tend to either burn out (Spurs), get tactically worked out by opponents (Ranieri) or lose the pieces that made the speed so successful in the first place (Conte’s Chelsea) — but it’s certainly fun to watch.
  9. The 10 Commandments of football analytics https://theathletic.com/1692489/2020/03/23/the-10-commandments-of-football-analytics/ Last year, The Athletic’s Ben Baldwin wrote a piece detailing the 10 Commandments of numbers-based analysis of the other football. The one with the funny-shaped ball. The beautiful game lends itself to plenty of analysis using numbers, too but just because the data is there, it doesn’t mean that it’s always used correctly. This guide will give you a better appreciation of the context required when talking about teams and players, which numbers to focus on and how to better question what you’re seeing. Here are The 10 Commandments. 1) Thou shalt not use save percentage to evaluate a goalkeeper’s shot-stopping ability Example: “Martin Dubravka has been the eighth best shot-stopper in the Premier League this season with a save percentage of 73.9 per cent” Why it’s misleading: The equation for save percentage is shots saved/total shots faced. Straight away, there’s no accounting for the difference in the type and quality of shots that a goalkeeper faces, which will have a large impact on his ability to make a save, and therefore, his save percentage. Goalkeeper X facing 10 shots from inside the six-yard box is going to have a tougher time making saves compared to Goalkeeper Y, who’s facing all of his ten shots from 30 yards out or more. Expected Goals and its cousin, Expected Goals on Target, tell us that shots from further away are less likely to result in a goal and shots that are either right at the keeper or down the middle are more likely to be saved. Anyone reading who has watched enough football will, of course, tell you the same thing. By equally weighting each shot to calculate save percentage, we are doing a disservice to Goalkeeper X and making Goalkeeper Y look better than they actually might be. What to use instead: Comparing the quality of on-target shots by using Expected Goals on Target (or Post-Shot Expected Goals) to the number of goals conceded, which I’ve written about previously here, adds much needed context to a goalkeeper’s numbers. Goals Prevented tells us how many goals a goalkeeper saved given the quality of shots he’s faced, compared to the average goalkeeper. Through doing this, Martin Dubravka looks far better than his save percentage says he is, and Vicente Guaita looks like a world-beater: 2) Thou shalt not use distance or sprint stats to indicate effort Example: “Mesut Ozil has run more than any other player for Arsenal today, clocking up 11.2km” Why it’s misleading: Premier League clubs have had access to tracking data since 2013-14 and, as part of that deal, the media get access to derived outputs too. Up to this point, all we’ve really seen is distance and speed statistics. The reality is, these numbers are some of the most contextless around, yet they’re used frequently when analysing teams and players. The reasons for not using are plentiful. Firstly, there’s no correlation between the distance you run and your likelihood of winning a game. The amount of distance covered in a finite amount of time is only useful in a time trial, which football is not. From last year’s UEFA Technical Report on the Champions League, Shakhtar Donetsk ran the furthest on average of all 32 teams in the competition, yet finished third in their group and crashed out of the Europa League in the round of 32. Manchester United ran the second-least on average, yet were still able to reach the quarter-finals. Distance doesn’t really tell us much. Secondly, distance and sprints are going to be stylistic, as in, the numbers that players rack up will be linked to what’s asked of them, the system they play in, how the opposition sets up, game state, and various other factors. Without controlling for — or at least mentioning — these other factors, these numbers don’t give us much insight. Finally, there’s also some evidence to suggest that running less actually can be beneficial — just ask Lionel Messi. Most players have the fitness levels to last a full game but the manipulation of space is what matters. Similarly, there have been plenty of quick players to have played the sport but the very best know when to use their pace. Very rarely do players need to beat another in a foot race but it’s quick bursts of speed to get past someone or latch on to the end of a loose ball that are key. There’s value in this data but it’s on the athlete-management side and ensuring that the players are in the right condition to be playing. Football is a game of space and time, and the current tools to measure these are too blunt to be interesting right now. What to use instead: There’s not really a great substitute here. Either these numbers need to be framed properly before using or we’re probably better off without them. 3) Thou shalt not use possession as an indicator of quality Example: “Tottenham had 79.8 per cent possession in their 0-1 defeat to Newcastle; the second-highest figure for a losing side in the Premier League since 2003-04.” Why it’s misleading: As Marti Perarnau puts it in Pep Confidential (my pick for The Athletic’s list of favourite football books) “possession is only a means to an end. It’s a tool, not an objective or an end goal.” Leicester City won the league averaging 42.6 per cent of possession in 2015-16. Manchester City won the league last season averaging 67.7 per cent of the ball. In essence, it doesn’t matter how much you have — it’s what you do with it. Winning the possession battle doesn’t really tell us that much beyond how teams stylistically set up to play and in-game, can be entirely dictated by the scoreline. Take Atletico Madrid’s 1-0 victory recently against Liverpool in the Champions League. After a fourth-minute goal, Atleti set up shop, having just 27 per cent of possession. That figure may have looked entirely different had Atleti not scored early on. What to use instead: Possession is still a useful nugget of information to understand which side had more of the ball — but just don’t use it to win any arguments that one team is better than another. Expected Goals is a far better indicator of the quality of a team, so if you want to argue about quality, see how good your team is at creating and preventing goalscoring chances. 4) Thou shalt not judge a player’s defensive ability on the number of tackles and interceptions they make Example: “Ricardo Pereira is the best defender in the Premier League, making 119 tackles this season” Why it’s misleading: Not all the defending that a player does is tangible and the measurable output that can be counted is often biased by team style. Logically, if a team has less possession, they have more opportunities to defend, and vice versa. For that reason, tackle and interception numbers are better indicators of defensive style (i.e. is the player passive or active) and not necessarily the defensive quality of a player. Virgil van Dijk attempts just 0.76 tackles per 90 minutes, yet no one would make the case that that makes him a poor defender. In addition, because these defensive numbers are at the mercy of the style of team that a player plays in (mainly the frequency of time they are out of possession and therefore are called into action), it’s hard to compare one player to another. What to use instead: To combat this, we can adjust defensive statistics for the number of times that they make these actions for every 1,000 touches that an opponent makes when on the field of play — an interpretable method of getting all players on a level playing field. Jordan Henderson’s 2.6 tackles per 90 is 15th best in the league but, when adjusting for possession, he jumps to 4.6 per 1,000 opponent touches, the fifth most defensively-active midfielder in the league. Possession-adjusted defensive numbers give a more rounded view of defensive activity but these still only show style and not overall quality. 5) Thou shalt not use tackle win-rate to judge a player’s tackling ability Why it’s misleading: I’m going to let you into a secret: tackles lost and tackles won are practically the same thing and ignore two other key outcomes when trying to make a tackle. Tackles are usually split into two categories — those that are won and those that are lost. Winning a tackle consists of a player winning back possession when challenging for the ball, while losing a tackle sees a challenge take place but the ball isn’t won back. Losing a tackle could be due to the ball being poked out for a throw-in for the opposition, the ball knocked loose for the opposition to recover, or some other reason. Tackle win-rate is currently defined as tackles won/(tackles won + tackles lost). What this currently tells us is the proportion of tackles that a player makes where his team wins the ball back. What’s the problem? Well, this currently ignores times when a player attempts a tackle and gets bounced off the player currently in possession, or when attempting a tackle, commits a foul. Of full-backs in the Premier League with the highest tackle win-rate, Martin Kelly is the best with 80 per cent of tackles won. The eye test tells us Aaron Wan-Bissaka should be amongst the top players, yet he’s only 11th. What gives? What to use instead: True tackle win-rate can help avoid this error by incorporating these two missing categories, with the equation of total tackles/(total tackles+challenges lost+fouls when attempting a tackle). Through this metric, Wan-Bissaka is top with a 78.9 per cent true tackle win rate, and Martin Kelly is down in 29th — much better. 6) Thou shalt not use goals minus expected goals as an indication of finishing ability in small samples Example: “Roberto Firmino has only scored eight goals from 12.7 xG, therefore he’s a poor finisher.” Why it’s misleading: When it comes to understanding goalscoring ability, there are two crucial elements that need to be considered and judged in isolation. The first is a striker’s ability to generate chances for himself. Goals are a striker’s main currency and to score goals, strikers need to take shots. To measure the quality of these shots, we use expected goals. If a player consistently gets into good goalscoring positions, over time, goals will come. It’s one thing taking shots, it’s another thing to finish them. In small samples — such as a whole season — a player’s goals and xG may not match up. Take Roberto Firmino. This season, he’s scored fewer than you’d expect given the chances he has but it is his best in terms of getting into great goalscoring positions. Firmino’s three prior seasons at Liverpool have seen him score above, below and on expectation. This isn’t enough data to give any concrete conclusions on his finishing ability. What to use instead: Comparing expected goals (the chances players have) with expected goals on target (what they do with those chances) is one method of considering finishing quality in a very basic way. Even over larger samples, use with caution, and consider at least several hundred shots. There’s a lot of debate in football analytics circles of whether finishing is a repeatable skill, though, so until there’s a proper answer, go ahead and rely on expected goals’ indication that, over time, most players score in line with their xG. 7) Thou shalt not judge a team’s performance with or without a given player Example: “Arsenal’s win percentage this season without Mesut Ozil is higher without him (40 per cent) compared to with him (28 per cent)” Why it’s misleading: With or without you (or WOWY, as it’s known in sports analytics circles) stats are intended to isolate the impact of a single player in a team to see how results change with that player involved compared to when they’re missing. These stats can work in sports with smaller segments to analyse such as basketball, which has more line-up changes and is far higher-scoring. In football, however, there are just way too many moving parts for this to be a good way of analysing if a player’s any good or not. There’s too much out of Ozil’s control that he gets penalised for in both situations. Here’s just a sample of things that ideally should be taken into account but aren’t with WOWY: What was the quality of the opposition? What was the quality of the other players playing alongside Ozil? Was there a red card? Was Ozil subbed on? Equally, you have the Burnley problem. Ben Mee and James Tarkowski have both played every minute of Premier League football this season. Which is better? We’ll never know. What to use instead: It’s better to analyse players within the context of their position and focus on just what they can control. For Ozil and other creative midfielders, that’s chance creation, for strikers, it’s goalscoring and so on. Leave WOWY stats to sports played by big lads indoors. 😎 Thou shalt not judge a player’s pass ability on his passing accuracy Example: “Phil Bardsley is the worst full-back at passing in the Premier League, completing just 63.6 per cent of his passes” Why it’s misleading: The degree to which a player’s passing is accurate or not depends a lot on what they’re being asked to do, and the choices they make when on the ball. Some teams, such as Manchester City, play the ball very short and in certain areas of the field, under little pressure. Due to this, they’ll have a high pass-completion rate. Others, like Burnley, look to hit the channels and user longer passes instead of shorter ones — passes that are, on average, less likely to be completed. The passes may be, by the definition of the data, inaccurate, but that doesn’t tell the whole picture. Consider the example below, from a recent Leeds United game: https://cdn.theathletic.com/app/uploads/2020/03/22085743/costa_pass_example.mp4?_=1 Here, Helder Costa’s pass goes down as a failed pass into the area but it’s largely due to the excellent recovery run of the Hull City defender. Here, we should care about possession retention and the progression that Costa has enabled. There are various other times when this situation takes place — possession being retained but the pass incomplete — which players get unfairly judged on. What to use instead: I’ll write more on other options on this in future, as currently I don’t think that there are many metrics that properly cater to this issue. Expected Pass completion rates may give a more rounded view of why a player’s pass completion rates are low but that data is relatively sparse in the public domain. 9) Thou shalt not judge players if they fail a lot Example: “Trent Alexander-Arnold has made more unsuccessful passes than any other outfielder in the Premier League” Why it’s misleading: The Athletic’s Michael Cox wrote at length back in January on what being a “failure” in the Premier League means, so I won’t go into too much depth here. The Golden Boot winner every season will fail to score more times than they succeed in doing so. But if we want to find out the most clinical finisher, we’d look at conversion rate and therefore need goals. What to use instead: In most cases, if the focus is on how many times a player has failed, it’s worth turning that into a percentage to add more context. Have they failed a lot, or is it that they’re tried something far more than other players? 10) Thou shalt not compare players with differing numbers of minutes played Example: “Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Maddison are the joint second-best chance-creators in the league, with 75 each” Why it’s misleading: Players who play more minutes have more chances to do things on the field that are counted. By not putting all players on a level playing field in terms of minutes played, it means that those who have played less will nearly always look worse. I’m probably building some sort of a reputation for always fighting Emi Buendia’s corner but by adjusting for minutes played, Buendia is actually the second-best chance-creator in the league on a per 90 basis (3.3 per 90). What to use instead: By adjusting stats per 90 minutes played (that is, dividing the stat by minutes played/90), players who have played differing numbers of minutes can have their numbers compared, and more fair comparisons can be made.
  10. https://www.chelseafc.com/en/news/2020/03/26/pedro-corrects-reporting-of-contract-situation-and-talks-about-a
  11. So you think it is irresponsible to tell people the truth. COVID-19 kills a higher percentage of people than flu so far, but that chart is showing the number of people dying, not the percentage. Diseases like TB, Malaria, HIV/AIDS, Flu. Infect far more people every year. Malaria Infects 200 million + a year, but only kills 400,000+ a year. So technically less lethal than COVID-19, but 400,000 is a lot higher than 4000. https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/malaria_worldwide/impact.html Granted most people who die from infectious diseases live in some of the poorest countries and to most people do not matter, I mean who cares how many millions of people die of TB, Malaria, HIV/AID's etc, but if a few thousand people in wealthier countries die, it is the end of the world. I find it interesting you insist on bringing political crap, into what you want to pretend to be a factual statement.
  12. By the standards of other infectious disease Coronavirus does not kill that many people
  13. As we know over 4000 people have died, to put that into context, that is similar to the number of people who die every day of TB. https://www.tballiance.org/why-new-tb-drugs/global-pandemic https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tuberculosis
  14. PSG played their recent Champions League game in an empty stadium, the fans just massed in the street. https://www.bbc.com/sport/av/football/51845054

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