Premier League predictions based on defensive performance (feat. tableau)

This is another piece that is more a vehicle for me to play around with and showcase tableau than a serious analytical or statistical thing. This time, I’ve plotted points per games of this season’s Premier League clubs against both their shots on target+shots blocked conceded, and just their shots on target conceded.

Team pts per game vs SoT+SB CIt’s a fairly simple graph, though might look a little crowded. I’ve no idea if shots on target+shots blocked conceded per90 is a good measure of a team, but I figure that if you’re giving away large numbers of shots on target (generally ‘good’ shots) and shots blocked (in my mind they signify some type of pressure) then you’re probably going to be losing matches. However, like we saw with Liverpool last season, you can give away a fair bit defensively but still do well as long as you blitz it offensively. For this, the main graph is the one on the left (SoT+SB), with the one on the right (SoT) as a kind of supplementary or comparison graph.

A few observations:

– Chelsea are phenomenally high up given how many SoT+SB they concede per match. They’re so far away from the average, they look like an outlier. Are they doing ‘a Liverpool’ (from last year)? Can their results up considering these shots conceded numbers?

– Southampton maybe deserve to be where they are. I say maybe because there are other better statistical methods of judging whether a team is ‘where the belong’ in the table, or whether their results are masking something deeper. They’re not too far away from the average in either graph, and within the confidence bands in both. It’s promising at least.

– West Ham will drop, Burnley will up their points per game. This might seem like an obvious thing to say because it seems like common sense, but these stats at least seem to back common sense up. West Ham are conceding shots on target+shots blocked that should get them around 1.3 but they’re getting 1.8, which over just six games is a difference of a full three points – a free win. Burnley, on the other hand, while they haven’t been great, their ppg of 0.44 seems very harsh, and on this graph they should be getting about 1 point per game instead.

– Newcastle (the pink dot between Palace and Stoke on the left graph) should pick up too. Using the same logic as for the other teams, they should have been getting nearer 1.5 ppg rather than the 1.11 that they’ve had so far. Michael Caley wrote an article a few days ago on this subject ( essentially saying that their underlying stats say they’re better than their points total does. He also suggests that Newcastle has some underlying issue around scoring goals, which I agree with. It’d explain why they’re where they are on the graph, and also just agrees with what my eyes tell me – that they have a good team for who they are but that they ALWAYS look like they’re underperforming.

– Stoke are a huge outlier on just SoT but not SoT+SB. This probably just means that they’re throwing themselves in front of a lot of shots, but that they’re still giving away a fair number of opportunities – the SoT+SB graph has them roughly where they ‘should’ be.

Anyway, as I said there are more rigorous and accurate ways of looking at team performances, but defensive data is what I have available and I wanted an excuse to use tableau and write something. The link for this particular interactive tableau graph is here:!/vizhome/Othercentre-backcomparisons/TeamptspergamevsSoTSBC and the interactive graph for all PL, Bundesliga, La Liga centre-backs judged on a couple of TICAD defensive scores is here:!/vizhome/Somecentre-backsSpainGermanyandEngland21-10-14/PLLaLigaBundesligaCBsafterGW8

Thanks for reading, you can comment below or get me on Twitter @ETNAR_uk


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