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. The theory was that some clubs (read: Burnley) make more effective clearances than others. The theory was that some clubs send their clearances to more specific areas of the pitch, to players who are better able to hold the ball up, or otherwise allow themselves some respite.

I set about looking at what happened in the ten seconds after a team made a clearance: how many times their opponents got a shot, how many times their opponents got into the final third.

My theory, in a sense, was wrong.

Below is the table of results that I’ve just screenshotted from R. It’s sorted by the percentage of post-clearance periods where a team concedes a shot:

clearances R table

My theory falls down where it relates to Burnley. Over 8% of their clearances are followed by a shot in the next ten seconds. Given how close that is to the rest of the pack, that might just be noise and variance. The column to the right (o_SiB_pct) is the same but for shots inside the box, where Burnley also feature towards the bottom of the league, but not separated from the mass of the league by what would seem a significant amount.

But there is a team who seems to clear more effectively than everyone else, so far this season, and that is *sighs heavily* Manchester City.

They’re middle of the pack for all shots in the ten seconds after a clearance, but a (relative) distance away from everyone else when you look limit these to shots inside the box, and when you look at how often teams get back into the final third post-clearance.

Why is this? The obvious answer would be City’s counter-pressing-ness, and while I’m inclined to think that’s part of it I haven’t watched enough video after seeing these stats to be confident in any conclusions myself.

(Sidenote: The final column in the table is the percentage of times that an opponent, having got into the final third post-clearance, gets a shot. City are middling of the league values on this, though how much this means I don’t know.)

So there ya go. This was a little post-Opta Pro, experimental blogging, with a side order of publishing results despite them proving me wrong. There’s probably an important postscript to make that this is probably a sign that I’m overly looking for ‘reasons why Burnley are good’ and ‘finding’ things that aren’t there. Must do better.



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

  1. Pingback: Are Burnley better at clearances? (ERT: 2 mins) – The Row Z Regulars

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