Monday, February 3, 2014

Attacking SiB +/- moving averages

Each stage of the season throws up different challenges, and while I'm very conscious of not overreacting to small samples at the start of the year. sometimes I think my model and associated analysis can be too slow to react to emerging trends by putting too much weight on events from last August. For example, should we totally discount those opening weeks of the season when Liverpool were Suarez-less? Or, should we press the reset button on Fulham's woeful data after Meulensteen took over?

With that in mind, the below graph shows the average attacking SiB +/- score for the season, the 8 week moving average and the 4 week moving average, with the weekly score in the bar chart below. A couple of teams stand out for further comment below:

It isn't immediately obvious what the problem is here, though mounting injuries putting a strain on Arsenal's solid (but not City-like) depth is likely a factor. Many have commented that Ozil has looked less impressive than in the earlier stages of the season, but based on simple data like created chances and touches in the opponents' third, this isn't really borne out (I haven't seen every one of Arsenal's games though so I'd be willing to listen to suggestions this is indeed a fair claim).

An average of just 7 SiB against a mouth watering fixture list of @AVL, FUL, @SOU and CRY is a real concern and after months of having a couple of Arsenal names at the top of everyone's hit list, it's looking harder and harder to justify the lofty prices attached to the likes of Ozil, Giroud and Cazorla while cheaper options like Ramsey and Wilshere are of course sidelined. I'm generally one to sugest caution but with only a couple of really good fixtures in the next nine gameweeks, serious thoughts of selling some of these assets would be reasonable.

Before we get too excited about this chart, remember that everything is relative. Even a sharp improvement still makes Fulham a pretty mediocre team, but they'll certainly take that after a near historic level of ineptitude to open the year. What this really means is that they now have a base from which they can build and the addition of a couple of promising signings - led by the free-scoring Konstantinos Mitroglou - suggests this may not be the fantasy graveyard it was for the first half of the season. Now, realists will be quick to counter that this improved shot data has meant little in the way of actual results (just three goals in the last seven games) but at least Mitroglou should get some chances to continue his goal scoring form from Greece. I'll follow this post up with some thoughts on the transfer window but early thoughts seem to suggest that Mitroglou might be worth a look if you're looking for something new.

Liverpool showed steady improvement through basically the entire first half of the season and have since managed to stabilise at that elevated level, which puts them a distance ahead of everyone other than the all-conquering City. Indeed, given the rotation risk associated with their sky blue rivals, one can argue that Liverpool offer the best combination of elite returns and security, thus making it reasonable to consider the normally-ill-advised same-team-duo of Suarez and Sturridge (and possibly even a trio adding Coutinho or Sterling). With European action set to return in a couple of weeks, the value of having players who could very well be out of all non-Premier League competitions in two weeks should be high.

Man City
Like Liverpool, City have shown an incredible ability to improve as the season has progressed, taking things to an even greater level of success than we've previously seen. There's nothing really to say here as we all know how great they've been, and the bright spot from a fantasy perspective is that Aguero's injury makes it slightly easier to project the lineup every week (the team will presumably take a slight step back though, especially if you buy into the correlation between that dip in the four week average from GW16-21 and Aguero's absence).

Like Fulham, we should be careful about what exactly we're seeing here, but such improvement deserves attention, even if it's only going from awful to mediocre. The improvement looks real and we've already seen the impact it has had on Adam Johnson's fantasy returns, though the sticking point is that outside of him the team is still highly unpredictable and still lacks the kind of upside we'd ideally like for mid-priced options. In the last 10 gameweeks Sunderland players have registered just 14 appearances where they've registered two or more SiB. Johnson owns two of those games with the others dispersed between Fletcher (4), Borini (2), Colback (1), Larsson (1), Giaccherini (1), Altidore (1), Ki (1) and the now departed Ji (1) (who has interestingly just agreed to join Dortmund in the summer). So, in short, while the team is showing a marked improvement, I'm not sure it's focused on few enough players to translate into too much fantasy success.

Swansea enjoy a reputation of a mid level team who can punch above their weight with attacking flair, though the data suggests such a reputation should be fading. In fairness, of course, they have been without their talisman Michu for some time (he's played just twice since GW10) but other than a bump in GW11-13, the decline started even with the Spaniard in the team. There's enough talent here for this team to be successful but right now that isn't translating into an end product and I'd be cautious about owning any Swans right now.
West Ham
Long time readers will know of my admiration for Allardyce and I'd still suggest he's been underrated throughout his time in the Premier League due to some media criticism which has (often) been unfair. That said though, his current West Ham team has been in attacking decline for some time now and the hyped return of Carroll hasn't shown a bump in the stats the narrative suggests it might. Allardyce has demonstrated an ability to "out perform" the data more than some teams, possibly due to a focus on high conversion chances like close range headers from set pieces, but that's not enough to paper over a team who are creating SiB's at rate 30% below the league average. Managers haven't really bought into the Carroll discussion yet (and any such excitement will have been extinguished by this week's red card), but just in case you were flirting with the idea of bringing in the big Geordie, be sure you understand the level of scraps he will be feasting on.


Kalix said...

Awesome stuff Chris, interesting data and nice analysis! :)

Sean H said...

Thanks for the article, interesting read as ever. As an Ozil owner, soon to be Ozil seller, he doesn't seem to make runs into the box, or look to be involved in the box. I know there isn't a stat for runs into the box (ribs, if you will), but if there were, his would be minimal at this moment in time. And his current price makes it easy to bin him for the Matas/Lallanas of the fantasy world.

Greg Frost said...


TheD said...

So good to see you back Chrism hope to see you more often and I wish u upturn in the ranking, especially with the WC in pocket for u.

Is it possible to have a little bit explanation how to read the table for some novice like me? I have difficulties in reading it.


2ndMan said...

Good to see a new article from you Chris. Glad your backing Fulham and Mitroglou as well as I've just written an article suggesting him as an option!

Interesting thoughts on Swansea too. With Europa league returning soon as well, the Bony punt many took doesn't look quite so good.

Kyle Shaughnessy said...

Mate, good to see you back in the swing of things!

Great article...

CDI said...

Hey Chris glad ur posting again though I did miss the weekly projections last week :)

If you had to pick 2 from Koscielny, Kolarov and Azpilicueta who do you leave out? I'm currently debating who from the first 2 I should cut so I can have some chelsea defense but its not easy. Kos has the worst fixtures but is part of a great defense + he's a Bap magnet.

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