Thursday, August 20, 2009

The writing's on the chalkboard

My favourite new tool for evaluating player performance is the Guardian's new chalkboard function which allows you to monitor all the passes, shots, tackles and free kicks made by any player, in any game in the Premier League in the last 4 seasons (updated within hours of any games this season). This allows you to see how a player is performing when you can't see the game and whether he is getting goalscoring opportunities and is playing in the right part of the field.

For example, if you are choosing between two centre backs and you can see that one had 2 headers per game in the opposition box and the other had six, then it is clear that the team is game planning to get the ball to that defender (like Laursen last year) and he is therefore more likely to score. Equally, if a midfield player (say, Jon Obi Mikel) plays 90% of his passes in and around the centre circle, he is unlikely to ever contribute more than performance points and clean sheets.

Modric v Lennon

Having only seen the highlights of the Hull-Tottenham game, I was worried by the lack of points from Modric, who failed to get a single assist or goal despite Spurs notching 5 at the KC Stadium. I am a big fan of Modric and agree with Redknapp's assessment that he could get into any team in the league. However, this does not equate to fantasy points so I decided to look at the stats. Below are the passes attempted by Modric (left) and Lennon (right) with blue being successful and red being unsuccessful passes:

While the pass completion rate is exactly the same for both players, there is a clear difference between the successful passes played into the danger zone (ie the box) by Lennon and Modric. Modric didn't have a single completed pass beyond the 18 yard line, and was absent from most of Spurs' counter attacks throughout the game. This is a troubling from a fantasy perspective as if you don't play forward and up with Spurs fast paced breaks, you aren't likely to contribute too many fantasy points.

In the previous game against Liverpool Modric was more successful, contributing an assist to Bassong, along with a number of passes into the danger zone so we should not therefore panic but should definitely monitor this situation in the two coming games against West Ham (A) and Birmingham (H) before they get United (H) and Chelsea (A). Modric is owned by twice as many players as Lennon (14% vs 7%) and so Lennon could provide good value as a differentiator if Modric turns out to be a disappointment.

Andrey Arshavin
As an Arshavin owner I was worried about Arshavin's lack of production in the 6-1 destruction of Everton, only notching an assist and one bonus point. I have therefore gone to the chalkboard to see if he was playing too deep and too far out of the play to gain substantial fantasy tips, which I have tipped in previous posts. His passes (left) and shots (right) are shown below:

The lack of shots do not settle my nerves, as he only had 2 of Arsenal's 18 shots, both of which were blocked. However, his passes look very interesting with double digit passes into the danger zone and plenty of action in and around the box. Also, his 46 touches are well ahead of Fabregas (34), Van Persie (26) and Bendtner (21) which will allow him to put himself in the window for bonus points. His midweek performance against Celtic was a joy to behold, as commented on in the Mail this week and I think more is to come from the Russian maestro.

Patrice Evra
Last year I was a bit disappointed with the French fullback who registered an unspectacular 106 points (.610 PPMS) with only 6 of these from non-defensive means. Although yet to score or get an assist (United have after all only scored once) he did get 2 bonus points against Birmingham and the two diagrams below show how heavily he was involved in United's attacks against Birmingham (left) and Burnley (right):

Evra has had significantly more touches than O'Shea on the right and the passes made up near the opposition box demonstrate that he has been given a long leash by Ferguson and should start to contribute offensive points soon. He came very close yesterday against Burnley after being taken down for the penalty which was duly missed by Michael Carrick, thus losing 3 points for Evra. The exemplary passing shown against Birmingham show that the pundits were correct to award him the bonus points and hopefully this form will continue in the future. The clean sheets should also start to come as Vidic and Ferdinand return from injury in the next couple of weeks.

Let me know what you guys think of this tool and if you want to see more analysis using it in the future. While not fantasy focused, I think it will give great indications of future points flow and allow us to follow the stats to points rather than chasing points based on one off events. As always, you can follow me on Twitter, and I encourage you to join the blog league (see box on the right) which has gotten off to a good start so far.


NotoriousDre said...

nice tool.
it takes you beyond the static stats and more into the flow of the game!

this can help you find that cheap diamond in the rough...or at least point you in a direction

NotoriousDre said...


have a question...bramble or hanglehand in gameweek 3?

Chris Glover said...

Thats a tough one. I would probably go for Hangeland as Fulham have played Chelsea well in the past couple of years where as I believe Wigan are yet to beat a big 4 side. I wouldnt buy either this week but if you already hold them id play Hangeland. Wigan could face a backlash from Utd after their awful midweek loss.

NotoriousDre said...

i agree...going with Hanglehand.

i also believe Ashavin is going to have a big game. Leaning to him over lampard as captain this weekend.