Lions escape with scraps of pride after Pinho last-gasp poke

Orlando City 1 DC United 1

Stefano Pinho’s last-gasp equaliser for Orlando cancelled out Yamil Asad’s direct free-kick, as DC United threw away a win after failing to take control of a match where they spent 50 minutes playing against 10 men.

After an even start, Orlando dominated before a VAR-prompted penalty was given to United, a Darren Mattocks cross striking Will Johnson’s hand.

New signing Mattocks stepped up to take the kick but it was saved, whizzing from Joe Bendik’s glove to bar to post and finally cleared away for a corner.

Orlando soon asserted themselves again, but their policy of going in hard on DC new-boy Asad twice proved to be their undoing.

A free-kick for a foul on the Argentine, taken by the man himself, swung through a mass of bodies from a crossing position on the left and into the net on the half-hour.

Shortly after, Victor Giro swung an arm going up for a header with Asad and initially received a yellow card, but after a short VAR consultation the referee produced a red.

In truth, United’s passive defending made them look like the side with ten men. Orlando created chance after chance throughout the second half and for a long time it looked like DC would get away with ceding the game.

But in injury time, with just two minutes to go, substitute Pinho got on the end of a pull-back by new club captain Jonathan Spector.

Orlando’s dominance was such that the second-half final-third pass count was 89 to 29.

orlando v DC



The Theory of Everything (to do with clearances and how teams set themselves after they make them)

This Wednesday was the Opta Pro Forum, the gathering of the great, the good, and the darn right mediocre (presenters, proper football men and women, and ‘public analysts’ respectively).

While there, someone (I think it was Julien Assunção, who you should go and follow) mentioned that I didn’t write on this blog much any more. A couple of days before(?) the Forum, someone else (I’ve forgotten who) tweeted that part of what public analytics had lost was the half-finished experimentation that people just *~*~put out there~*~*, which people could then discuss and evolve (or, if it was good, blatantly copy).

So, here’s something that I’d been meaning to do for a while, and something which I now realise is similar to a (rejected) submission for the Opta Pro Forum I made last year, tying this whole thing up quite nicely.

I had a theory. Continue reading


A splurge of footballing and footballing statistic theory

“Stop. Calling. Over. Or. Under. Performance. Of. Expected. Goals. ‘Finishing. Skill’.”

Is what I would have liked to have tweeted had I not decided that that would have been annoying to almost everyone who follows me.

The point, though, is a good and meaningful one, even if I do say so myself.

The narrative around stats and finishing skill appears to have gone something like this:

  1. Finishing skill does not exist
  2. The people who said ‘finishing skill does not exist’ are dummies. Finishing skill does exist, obvs, we just can’t detect it
  3. Not only does finishing skill exist, but we can detect it, but it doesn’t do very much

And 4., more recently, is a good article from Bobby Gardiner which says

  • Not only does finishing skill exist, but we can detect it, and it does more than we think, but it’s still less important than actually getting in good positions in the first place.

This is all good, fine, and fascinating to people interested in stats.

It’s also consistently incorrect in the most important way, which is that what is commonly known as ‘finishing’ to, like, normal people, isn’t what stats people mean when they talk about finishing.

Which is a problem. Continue reading


On Squawka and its new owners

Squawka is dead. Long live Squawka.

On the morning of 3 November, the news of Squawka’s demise filtered out on Twitter, slowly.

Everyone was sad that people had lost their jobs; former employees mourned what sounded like a good working environment; journalists who had been, temporarily, within the site’s orbit mumbled about plagiarism or poor pay; more niche members of stats twitter mourned ‘what could have been’. Continue reading


The Curious Case of Who Are Scoring Headers

The power flexes from knees to pitch; a doorframe filler of a man stretches beneath the murky sky, elbows, like wings, extending outwards.

An inch of flesh, two centimetres above Andy Carroll’s elbow, glances a defender’s head, and the player, toes still touching grass, folds into a collapse.

The whistle blows, because football is soft nowadays, or so it’s often said. With the traditional values of British football – being big and strong and heading the ball – hagiographically mourned as a dying art in the Premier League, one would imagine that they are better exhibited in the not-quite-so-modern Championship. Continue reading


Saves to the left of me, saves to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with save stats

Prompted by a tweet from @RandyHauser, I decided to have a look at some keeper stats and whether keepers had a weak side.


Below is a plot for Premier League, Bundesliga, and La Liga keepers for 2012/13 to 2016/17 who’ve faced more than 50 shots on target in a season, along with the difference between their save percentages for SoTs to the left side and right side of the goal*. Continue reading