Stoke City vs. Manchester City–Opposition Analysis


This is an “Opposition analysis” of Stoke City, Manchester City’s opponent on Saturday 15st September at the Britannia Stadium. I used the #MCFCAnalytics Lite data set to do this analysis.

Stoke

Stoke – Offense

Offensively bad
Goals scored
Shots on Target
Shots off Target

20th
20th
14th
Strong in the airHeaded goalsHeaded shots (on + off target) 14 – 3rd in the League  –  40%  (14/35) of their goals are from headers
2nd
Poor Final 3rd passing
Completions in final 3rd

19th
Lots of “throw ball”
Attempts on goal from throws (on + off target

1st

 

Stoke – Key attacking players

 

Goals Peter Crouch10  – 5 from headers
Jonathan Walters 7
Shots 55 – Jonathan Walters took the highest # of shots for Stoke followed by
49 – Peter Crouch
Robert Huth leads the Headers with 13 (on + off target)
Assists Mathew Etherington7
Jermaine Pennant
6
Jonathan Walters5
Final third passing Peter Crouch (286 – 46% completion rate) had the maximum completions in the final 3rd.
Glenn Whelan (268 – 63%) and
Jonathan Walters (253 – 54%)
are the next best passers in the final 3rd.
Other interesting aspects 1st in Assists to Goals ratio

 

Stoke – Offensive summary

Stats from last season indicate that Stoke is very “direct” in its attack (my “Eureka” moment right there!). Headed goals constitute 40% of their total goals scored. They were last in goals scored and shots on target. Overall, a very poor offensive record.

Peter Crouch is Stoke’s top-scorer. Jonathan Walters is the most valuable offensive player who can score (7 goals) as well as provide (5 assists) and is one of their most active passers in the final third.

Peter Crouch has the most # of completions in the final third, but that is not saying much. His completion % is below par. It is very likely that Stoke’s offensive game plan is to lob long balls in the direction of Peter Crouch, whose subsequent pass(or header) is easily intercepted. Stoke ranked last in the  # of corners won. This is partly explained by the fact they are 19th in final 3rd completions – Could it be because Stoke is not spending enough time in the final 3rd to force clearances or mistakes from opposing defenders?

Stoke have the league’s highest Assist-to-Goals ratio. Stoke are very poor shooting from outside the box. The two stats put together imply that they neither have someone who can make dangerous solo runs at the defence and create a goal scoring opportunity on their own nor possess a goal-scoring threat from outside the box. Pulis has addressed the latter by signing Charlie Adam, whose 40-yard boomers will at least add another dimension to their attack. Adam’s signing should also improve their passing in the final 3rd.

They signed free agent Michael Owen last week in an effort improve their goal scoring. It is likely that Tony Pulis is looking for someone who can pounce on the knockdowns by Peter Crouch in and around the 18-yard box and take high percentage shots on goal. Not a bad idea in theory but I am skeptical on the kind of impact Michael Owen is going to have in the Stoke system.
New signing US defender Geoff Cameron will provide cover for Rory Delap with his powerful throw.
All their new signings are geared towards upgrading personnel for their direct approach rather than try something different.

Stoke – Defence

Goals conceded 53 – tied for 7th
Penalties conceded 7 – tied for 4th
Shots conceded 2nd – From outside the box
13th – From inside the box
Corners conceded 5th
Aerial duels 2nd – Total duels
1st – Duels won &
1st – Duels winning %
Ground duels won % 20th
Tackles 20th – Tackles won
20th – Tackles winning %
Clearances 1st – headed clearances
1st – total clearances
Fouls committed 5th
Pitch size 100 x 64 (vs. Man City’s 105 x 68) – smallest in EPL

 

Stoke – Defensive summary

Stoke rely heavily on their strong and physical aerial game in the defense as well. Stoke create the 2nd highest # of aerial duel situations in the league and are the best in the league in winning % of aerial duels. This shows Stoke’s clear affinity to play the ball in the air to take advantage of the physical conditions of its players. On the flip side, Stoke are the worst in the league  in winning ground duels & tackles.

Stoke have the highest # of clearances 1910 (459 more than Norwich who are second. League average 1128). They also have the highest # of headed clearances in 959 (159 more than QPR who are second. League average is 575). This indicates that Stoke defenders are probably slow and tend to react late and get into situations where they have to make a clearance. They conceded the 5th highest # of corners in the league.

Britannia stadium has the smallest pitch in all of Premier league. It is 4 meters narrower, 5 meters shorter and 10.36% smaller in area than that of Manchester City. This means less space to work with on the ground. The passing angles for players like David Silva, Tevez et al, will be restricted. It will make it easier for Stoke defenders to close down the attacking players of the opposition despite their inferior technique and slowness. It also makes the aerial game a bit easier as the likelihood of completing a pass through the air is probably easier than passing on the ground in a small and crowded field. (This could also be the reason why Stoke defenders are forced to make so many headed clearances as the opposing teams are forced to play the ball in the air to have a better chance of completing a pass in and around the 18-yard box).

City should field as many players as possible who can pass the ball in tight spaces to move the ball on the ground close to their 18-yard box to force hurried clearances, defensive mistakes and set pieces. Stoke give up the 2nd highest # of shots on target from outside the box. Yaya Toure must fancy his chances of scoring a goal in this game.

Stoke are reasonably good (13th lowest) at conceding shots from inside the box. This could be due to their physical defending style. If the ref is “letting them play” then Stoke defence could frustrate attackers of the opposition and force them to settle for shots from the outside.

 

Stoke – Goalkeeping (Asmir Begovic)

Goals conceded 31 – 1.41 goals per game 7th (for All GKs with 20 or more starts)
GK distribution efficiency
(Successful GK distribution/Total GK distribution)
67% – 11th
Long passes completion 51% – 1st
Short passes completion rate 75% – 19th (only 24 short passes attempted)
Proportion of Long to short passes 95% – 1st (league average 76)

 

Stoke – Goalkeeping Summary

I have considered only Asmir Begovic’s numbers for this analysis, as he is the starter this season. He is the best in the league at completing long passes and one of the worst goalkeepers at completing short passes. 95% of all passes attempted by Begovic are long (1st in the league). He gave up 1.41 goals per game, 7th highest in the league. However, he only conceded 0.727 goals per game ( 8 goals in 11 games)  with 4 clean-sheets at home. Overall Stoke gave up only 20 goals in 19 home games. This was one of the main reasons for their survival last season.

 

City vs. Stoke Head – to – head 2011-12

  • City drew 1-1 at the Britannia and won 3-0 at home
  • Can you guess who scored the away goal for City and from where? Yaya Toure, from outside the box. Peter Crouch scored for Stoke.
  • In the home game at the Etihad, Aguero – 2 and Adam Johnson – 1.

 

Final word

City will find the going tough but should win this game. The key for City is to stay patient with their passing game and not be drawn into the physical and aerial battle that Stoke is so comfortable. Stoke do not create many clear scoring chances. If the City defence can keep their errors to a minimum, Stoke will most likely not score.

Final 3rd analysis – more follow ups


Thanks a lot for all the feedback and discussion regarding the final third analysis. Here are a few follow-ups on the feedback.

Feedback: The correlation between goals scored and passes in the final third is driven by the top 5 goal scoring clubs. If they are removed from the data set, the correlation might be weak.
This was brought up by @WillTGM & @Chumolo

Follow-up:

  • The correlation is not nearly as strong if the top 5 (goals scored) are removed. However, 5 teams constitute 25% of the sample space. If we cherry pick the top 5, it is not surprising that the correlation becomes much weaker.
  • I did an experiment choosing 15 clubs randomly from the 20. In several such experiments, the correlation was strong and significant. R2 varied between 0.56 and 0.87. The regression was significant. (F-test)
  • On a similar note, if outliers like Liverpool and Newcastle are excluded, the correlation becomes much stronger.

Feedback: Significance of the regression

@rui_xu brought up a great point about the importance of the significance of the regression and how just R2  might not tell the whole story.

Follow-up:
I did the F-test for all the regressions with the following results

  • However, when I did the same analysis using data from all the 380 games of last season (760 samples), the correlation was weak (as observed for the 38 games of Man City) and the regression was significant for the larger sample space.

Please keep the feedback coming!

Follow-up analysis: Final third passing and Goals scored per game


This is a follow up to my post regarding the strong correlation between completed in the final third and goals scored.

Question

Is there a correlation between the final third completions & goals scored at the game level?

Analysis

I investigated to see if this correlation exists at the game level using the #MCFCAnalytics data set. I plotted the completions in the final third vs. goals scored for Manchester City in all their 38 games of English Premier League.
Blue = Away
; Orange = Home

Manchester City Goals vs. Pass completions in the final 3rd on a per game basis

Findings:

  • Linear regression had an R2 of 0.04  implying that there is no correlation between passes completed in the final third and goals scored at the game level.
    I did the plot for a few other teams and got similar results.
     
  • Arsenal – Away and Liverpool – Home. In both cases, Manchester City had very little success completing passes in the final 3rd. However, they lost 1-0 at the Emirates and won 3-0 at home vs. Liverpool.
    Against Liverpool, City had 6 shots on target and 2 off target.
    Against Arsenal, City had 0 shots on target and 3 off target.
  • QPR – Home and QPR – Away. City scored 3 goals each against QPR home and away. However, they had a season high 326 completed passes in the final 3rd at home vs. just 74 in the away fixture.
    Shots vs. QPR Away – 5 on target & 10 off target.
    Shots vs. QPR Home – 15 on target and 10 off target.

The City – QPR fixture was that crazy season finale. City fell behind and they threw everyone forward to go for the win and the Premier league title. QPR was a man down from 55th minute and they defended at the edge of their 18-yard box for most of 2nd half. This explains the unusually high number of completed passes in the final third.

The above examples underline the rarity of the “goal” event. In any given game, there could be factors like bad shooting, luck, the opponent’s goalkeeper having a great game etc., which could influence the # of goals scored. However, over a season those things seem to even out.

In the next step of analysis I will add a 2nd variable to the model and analyze.

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.

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