Central defensive profiles: an update

This is very much a quick, Twitter-esque type update to the previous piece on central defensive profiles (https://everyteamneedsaron.com/2015/08/11/central-defensive-profiles/). Basically, the idea is that defenders are easier to compare if you take into account their personal styles. This is true of forwards and midfielders too, but we tend to watch them more when they’re on the ball and so naturally pick up on the ways they play more easily.

So, here are a few examples of the ‘new’ CB profiles:

Defensive Profile Test Team stuff added

  1. Int/Tck swing: the proportion of tackle attempts and interceptions they make. The dotted line is 50/50, so Mertesacker intercepts around 65% of the time and tries to tackle around 35% of the time.
  2. “Proactiveness”: Kind of self-explanatory, it’s a rough measure of how proactive they are.
  3. “Defensive Openness”: This is the average percentage of a team’s defensive actions that a centre-back on that team makes. If the bar is low, it means that that team’s CBs do relatively little compared to the league average, suggesting they are protected quite well by their midfield.
  4. “High line”: Another self-explanatory one, another rough measure. For this, a small bar means a higher line, so you can imagine the left side of the bar as the halfway line and the right side of the bar is the defensive line.
  5. Offsides p90: The amount of offsides that team ‘makes’ (offside traps they spring) per 90 minutes/game
  6. “Defensive contribution”: This is at the end separate from the player and team groupings because it’s not so much about style. This is a stat I tentatively think may be the most simple way of getting anything useful from defensive statistics (talked about a bit here https://everyteamneedsaron.com/2015/07/28/is-it-simpler-than-we-all-i-thought-cb-stats/). It’s a player’s tackles, interceptions, and ball recoveries per 90 minutes and *may* be related to quality, to some extent. But that extent is unknown and not really proven.

I’ll post that image again to make some observations on it, kinda see how you can use it

Defensive Profile Test Team stuff addedCaulker joining Southampton

QPR’s back-line (if my method of calculation, below, is to be trusted) was relatively high, not radically so, and the ‘openness’ of their defense was pretty average. Southampton (apparently) had a more ‘open’ defense but a deeper line. Apart from the propensity to play offside, there doesn’t look to be anything too different between the two teams, so you’d imagine Caulker could slot in quite well. I should have included Alderweireld in this picture, because his “proactiveness” is much more similar to Caulker’s than Fonte’s is (although a far different int/tck swing). Maybe Southampton have something like this of their own and have just picked Caulker to plug into the stylistic hole.

Chester joining West Brom

My support for this transfer comes from the ‘might be something in it but might not’ Defensive contribution number, which Chester scores pretty highly in. This is also without having a stupidly large “Proactiveness” rating. West Brom seem to have played a higher line than Hull last season though, and double the amount of offsides per match, so maybe the stylistic fit will be more difficult. In his first match for the club, Chester *was* caught a couple of times with runs behind him, although this was against Man City and he was playing at right-back so it probably isn’t fair to draw any conclusions from that.

Thanks for reading. Everything involved in this is solely based on the 2014/15 English Premier League season; I’m planning to do it for the 2014/15 La Liga season but am moving to France this Sunday for a year so I don’t know how soon I’ll get round to it. If you’ve any thoughts on methods (below), features to add, or presentation/naming issues don’t hesitate to get in touch, either in the comments, on Twitter, or at mrkthmpsn9@gmail.com


Show your working:

“Proactiveness”: Mentioned in previous article on this, but it’s (dominance adjusted tackle attempts plus dom adj interceptions) divided by (dom adj tackle attempts plus dom adj interceptions plus ball recoveries), as I think a higher proportion of ball recoveries imply more of a sweeper role. Then this is multiplied by (dom adj tackle attempts plus dom adj interceptions).

“Defensive openness”: Explained above, average percentage of a team’s defensive actions that an individual centre-back in that team makes.

“High line”: The percentage of a team’s average CB’s tackle attempts/interceptions made above a certain point on the pitch. Then the average point of a team’s offsides won. Both of these are given a ‘score’ out of 100, and these are added together.


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