Manchester City vs. QPR : Opposition analysis #CityOppostion #MCFCAnalytics


This is an “Opposition analysis” of QPR, City’s opponent on Saturday 1st September at the Etihad Stadium. I used the #MCFCAnalytics Lite data set to do this analysis.

Picture courtesy : @srands_analyst on twitter

QPR – Offense

Goals scored 16th
Headed goals 10 – 4th in the League 24.4% of their goals are from headers
Poor shooting efficiency from outside the box 3rd in # of shots taken from outside box but 15th in shooting efficiency (goals scored/{shots on target + shots off target from outside the box}
Long pass efficiency 7th
Final 3rd passing 13th in final third completions

 

QPR – Key attacking players

Goals Jamie Mackie (8 goals  at 26.7% shooting efficiency) and Djibril Cissé (6 goals at 31.6% shooting efficiency) were the most dangerous  goal scoring threats.
Shots 56 – Adil Taraabt took the highest # of shots in QPR

50/56 shots are from outside the box

Taraabt also had 32 of his shots blocked, 27 of them from outside the box

Assists Wright-Philips, Traore, Taraabt and Barton were the top assist providers with 3 each.
Final Third passing Joey Barton (435) had the maximum completions in the final 3rd. They have a great replacement for him in Esteban Granero, who is much better than Barton technically but he might need a few games to find his gears in the Premier League

Taraabt (322), Faurlin (288) and Wright-Philips (215) are the next 3 in this category. All with an passing completion rate of over 70%.

Other interesting aspects Taraabt (90 – 42%), Wright-Philips (96 – 37.5%) and Mackie (91 – 27.5%) are the top dribblers of the team.

 

QPR – Offensive summary

QPR seem to be very direct in their attack. They tend to defend deep and hit on the counter. They scored 10 goals from headers. Adil Taraabt is a very dynamic player but his decision-making is questionable. He takes too many shots from outside the box, many of them either off-target or blocked. Their average of less than 1 goal per away game highlights their trouble scoring away from home.

Joey Barton was one of the key cogs of their attack last season. He will be replaced by the excellent Esteban Granero, a product of the Real Madrid youth system.

The key players for QPR on the attack are Mackie, Wright-Philips and Taraabt.
Granero will be a part of this list as he gets used to the Premier League

Esteban Granero is technically much better and has none of the disciplinary issues of Barton. Granero is very adept at running the game from the midfield and has great technique and touch. His best seasons were at Getafe (on loan from Real Madrid) when he played a key role in taking the the small club from the suburbs of Madrid to within inches of the semi-finals of the UEFA cup 2007-08. He moved back to Real Madrid in 2009 and have not had a lot of playing opportunities since then. He must be eager to have a go at QPR and I expect him to have similar impact at QPR as the other Spanish midfielders are having at their respective Premier league teams. However, I doubt he will have a big impact in the game at Etihad Stadium.

QPR – Defence

Goals conceded 3rd highest in the league
Shots conceded 4th
Corners conceded 2nd
Clearances 2ndAlso 2nd highest headed clearances and highest proportion of headed clearances  among total clearances
Ground duels wining % 2nd
Aerial duels winning % 16th
Tackles winning % 17th
Red-cards 9 – 1st in the league

 

QPR – Defensive summary

“A train-wreck waiting to happen” – Is how I would describe the QPR defense of last season in 5 words. They seem to defend deep and it is likely that their back four is slow. Opponents  complete about 10% more passes in QPR’s defensive third on an average compared to their league average. The # of corners conceded and headed clearances tell me that the QPR defence is in a “hurried” mode when the opposition is in QPR’s defensive third.  This means they are a fraction too slow to be in the right place at the right time. They are forced to make clearances with no time to think about placement. They are ranked 17th in tackles won. Some of it is probably due to them being fraction late on the tackles.

QPR – Goalkeeping

Goal keeper metrics Standing among the peers
Goals conceded overall 17th in the league
GK distribution efficiency  – Kenny

(Successful GK distribution/Total GK distribution)

60% – 13th out of 18 GKs with 29 or more starts
Short passes completion – Kenny 80% – 15th out of 18 (league average 90%)
Long passes completion – 39% – 11th out of 18  (league average 39%)
Proportion of Long to short passes – Kenny 90% – 3rd out of 18 (league average 76%)

 

QPR – Goalkeeping summary

Patrick Kenny is not with QPR anymore. Robert Green was not  any better in the first two games. They have signed the veteran Brazilian keeper Julio Caesar a few days ago. He is an upgrade over Green. However, I am not too sure if their GK distribution strategy would change much. I think that is the key problem – Too much emphasis on long balls and very poor completions rates even with the short passes.

City should enjoy a lot of success if they try to pressure and hurry the QPR keeper.

City vs. QPR Head – to – head 2011-12

  1. 2 of the 4 goals were headers – a strength of QPR
  2. All 4 goals from inside the box, 1 from a set-play and  3 from open play
  3. One of the goals was a quick counterattack
  4. Scorers : Cissé, Mackie, Boothroyd, Helguson
  • How did City score vs. QPR?

 

  1. All 6 from inside the box
  2. 2 were headers
  3. 5 from open play and 1 from a corner
  4. Scorers : Aguero, Dzeko x 2, Yaya Touré, Zabaleta, Silva

Final word

City should win this game. QPR defence had too many issues last season and  based on first two games of the Premiership I am not convinced that they have addressed them. On the other hand, City has a potent offence despite the absence of Aguero. However, QPR did score twice at the Etihad in that crazy season finale. If City defence can keep a tab on Mackie, Wright-Philips and Taraabt, QPR’s chances of scoring would go down dramatically.

Passing in the final third and goals – EPL 2011-12 #MCFCAnalytics


Question:

Is there a correlation between passing in the final third and the goals scored?

I used the #MCFCAnalytics data set to find the answer.

Analysis

Plot of  Total # of completed passes in the final vs. Goals scored for all the 20 teams in the 2011-12 season of the Barclays Premier League

 Findings:

  • Linear regression had an R2 of 0.671indicating a strong correlation between passes completed in the final third and goals scored.
    Excluding the outlier of Liverpool from the dataset the R2jumped to 0.827.
  • Liverpool is ranked 3rd in the # of passes completed in the final third. However, they are only ranked 15th in goal scored.
  • 75.73– Liverpool’s expected goals scored based on the above regression. However, they managed to score only 42 goals.
    • What is the reason for the huge negative difference?
  • Swansea’s case is interesting. You may remember the term “Swansealona” was one of the favorites with EPL analysts and reporters last season due to their reputation for passing style and high amounts of possession. However, they are below the league average on passes completed in the final third.
  • Newcastle  is ranked 18th in passes completed in the final third. However, Newcastle is ranked 7th in goal scored.Expected goals scored for Newcastle is 29.6. They managed to score 51!
  • Blackburn is ranked last in passes completed in the final third. However, Blackburn scored a lot more goals (44) than their expected goals scored (24.2)
  • Stoke is at the bottom – Lowest # of goals scored and 2nd lowest # of passes completed in the final third.  Not surprising based on their style of play.

Liverpool

I hypothesized that

  1. Liverpool might be crossing a lot and
  2. Most crosses occur in the final third. (I would love to look at (X,Y) data to establish this fact.)
  3. Poor shot quality (which might or might be related to their propensity to cross)

Findings:

  • 1103 – Liverpool attempted the highest # of crosses +corners of all teams in 2011-12
  • 840 –  Liverpool attempted the highest # of open play crosses in 2011-12
  • 19th in overall crossing efficiency  (#of successful crosses+corners/# of successful  + # of unsuccessful crosses+corners)
  • 14th in open play crossing efficiency (# of successful open play crosses/# of successful + # of unsuccessful open play crosses)
  • 18th in overall shooting efficiency ( shots on target/shots on target + shots off target + blocked shots)
  • 15thin shooting efficiency not including blocked shots (shots on target/shots on target + shots off target)

    A glance at the top 10 open play crossers of Liverpool in 2011-12.

Player

Attempts

Efficiency

Downing

148

0.209

José Enrique

138

0.210

Henderson

72

0.125

Adam

70

0.157

Gerrard

69

0.203

Bellamy

67

0.194

Johnson

65

0.185

Kuyt

57

0.246

Suárez

47

0.149

Kelly

38

0.105

Liverpool Average

0.192

League Average

0.202

  • 2 – According this article on EPLIndex, Liverpool scored just 2 goals from 840 open play crosses all season. That is 1 goal per every 420 open play crosses.
  • 79 – The average # open play crosses per goal scored in the 2011-12 season. Liverpool are almost 10 times worse than Man United (44.5)  and Norwich (45.1) in open play crosses/goals category. If there ever was a stat that would (or should) regress to the mean, this is it.

Liverpool had a very talented team in 2011-12. This manifested itself in their high # of completions in the final third where the defensive pressure is highest. Once they are in possession in the final third, they seem to have relied heavily on “crossing the ball” to enable their center-forward Andy  Carroll to take a shot (or head) OR knock it down for their attacking midfielders and wide forwards to take a shot. One big problem was that delivering  crosses is not a very efficient way of passing the ball.  Another problem was they did not seem to have a plan B. It is quite possible that opponents have figured out Liverpool’s crossing strategy and their lack of plan B. The combination of these three factors has contributed significantly to the poor offensive display of Liverpool last season.

Newcastle United

  • 4th – Newcastle is 4thbest in shooting efficiency (goals scored/(shots on target + shots off target)). They stayed 4th even when I included blocked shots in the denominator.
    • This could be the reason why they are an outlier in the final-third completions vs goal scored plot.
    • Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United are the top – 3 in shooting efficiency.

Newcastle had two great strikers in Demba Ba and Papisse Cisse who accounted for 29 goals between them. These two were the focus of Newcastle attack and were very efficient with their shots. They did not need a high # of completed passes in the final third to score their goals as they were able to convert a higher % of their shots into goals.

Blackburn Rovers

  • 7thBlackburn are 7th best in shooting efficiency inside the box (goals scored from inside the box/(shots on target inside the box + shots off target inside the box)).
  • Yakubu scored 17 goals for Blackburn and has the 2ndbest  Goals to Shots ratio among all the forwards who have scored than 10 goals.
    • This could be one of the reasons for their big positive differential between actual goals scored (44) and the expected goals scored (24.2).

Summary

# of successful passes in the final third has a strong correlation to goals scored.

Final third is a “high-value” area for scoring goals. More completions in the final third means a team is spending more time in the high-value area. This translates into more opportunities to take a shot or draw errors from defenders to win set pieces from close range, which further increase scoring opportunities.

A high number of completions in the final third alone might not guarantee goals. Liverpool and Newcastle , two examples from the two extremes of the outlier spectrum are cases in point. However, it is one of the key contributing factors to scoring goals. The fact R2 jumped from 0.671 to 0.827 when Liverpool’s data was excluded from the data set strengthens is a case in point.

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