Thursday, September 12, 2013

Shot data: a terrifyingly early look at team totals

I simultaneously love and hate writing posts at this time of year. On the plus side, there is so much happening with new transfer signings bedding into their respective teams, the promoted sides showing what they're made of and familiar faces emerging or fading as fantasy stars. With all that excitement though, comes the nagging issue of sample size, which needs to be trotted out with boring regularity during these early stages of the season. I don't think anyone reading these pages would be naive enough to assume that Liverpool have emerged as the best defensive unit of all time, yet to totally ignore their impressive start seems a bit too conservative in the other direction and might lead us to miss out on emerging trends.

With this in mind, I'm going to have a very tentative peak at the shots created/conceded by each team compared with their 2012/13 totals and see if we can we start to spot any flags which need to be watched more closely in the coming weeks. Remember, any variance here is absolutely not a reason to conclude anything, just a mere flag to look deeper as to what might be causing that difference in the coming weeks.

Attacking data
One point to note, which will have been picked up by anyone who's even casually glanced at the weekly scores is that goals are down so far this year and this is backed up by lower shot/created chance numbers. The variance isn't huge (it amounts to about one less shot inside the box per team each week) but it could be an early indication of a more defensive league, in part due to the arrival of a number of generally conservative managers at the league's best teams (no matter the opponents, it was rare for United to get shutout in back-to-back games under Ferguson's leadership. Indeed, United only threw out two zeros in all of 2012-13 in the league).

Liverpool have the greatest variance to date, averaging just 12 shots through three games compared to 19 for last season, though that is largely driven by their woeful display against Villa (five total shots) and one game should not cause too much alarm just yet, especially with their talisman Suarez due back in a couple of weeks.

If we look at the volume of created chances we see that all but three teams come within a variance of two chances from last season - a sign to suggest that using prior year data is probably a reasonable approximation during these early stages of the season.

Defensive data
As noted above, defensive data is generally improved across the board so it's no surprise to see a couple of strong performers here. Sunderland's improvement is as much to do with their terrible record last season (17 shots conceded) as their strong play this year (11), though in fairness, continued play like this would push them into ownable territory; a marked improvement from last campaign. Everton's data looks outstanding, though the strength of their opponents needs to be considered. Still, beating up on weak teams is a definite asset for a fantasy defense and with three strong performences from three attempts, this is probably the most significant finding to date.

As we said, there's nothing here to overreact to, with the main conclusion being that prior year data is probably a useful benchmark and thus will continue to dominate the mechanics behind the weekly rankings for the coming weeks.


Matt Stone said...

Nice warmup post Chris, it's good to have you back.

ace_the said...

Hi, Chris! I've seen just one game in current season (cause i've decided not to play Fantasy EPL anymore) but i still reading your blog and analizing your metods & ideas. The reason for my strange behavior is the desire to adapt your ideas to other tournament - Russian Premier League. For the moment my wish has not been embodied in any material result but despite of that i want to thank you for all of you great-precise-deep work! Perhaps in the near future I have any questions about the calculation or something else, and it will be great to get some explanations/advices from you.

p.s. Excuse for possible mistakes, this comment was written with the assistanse of Google Translate :)

Shreyansh Jain said...

How about changing the formation and making it a 4-3-3 instead of 3-4-3?

SuperGrover said...

Sunderland's numbers are almost wholly driven by their game against Fulham in which they allowed just 5 shots. Considering Fulham got off just 3 against Newcastle I'm not sure that is all that impressive. Sunderland have averaged allowing 17.5 shots the other two against less than stellar competition (@ CRY, @ SOU). I'm not seeing anything to suggest a major change in form.

Gummi said...

@SuperGrover: True, although Chris does note that we really shouldn´t draw any conclusions from the data yet. But I still believe your conclusions, as Sunderland have looked dire in the opening games. Certainly nothing to be excited about.

Anyway, great to see Chris back.

SuperGrover said...

Definitely agree on both points! Welcome back Chris!

Piotr StawiƄski said...

As always, great analysis. I'm trying to write similar one in Polish:

stooshermadness said...

Chris - great to have you back. Wondering if shots on target/frame is more useful or valuable than shots or SiB.