As noted thinker Richard Whittall says, statistical analysis is, "just something else to look at" - like a painting, a sandwich, or a brick.
So let’s look at statistical analysis as if it were as useful as a painting, a sandwich or a brick. Unfortunately you can’t throw statistical analysis through a window, but you can make a blog out of it.
Tactics Bored once tried to submit a picture of a brick to its editor, but was soundly beaten for its insolence. Here, then, is some hardcore number watching:
At Eurosport, we put together a computer rig to work out how both teams played. We used a formula that was based on goalkeeping efficiency, tackles, interceptions, pass completions, amount of ground covered by each player and the number of shots converted into a goal. All this information was put into a machine that uses 200gb of RAM and 16 quad-core processors to factor in this data. Here is how it summed up the weekend:
Aston Villa 0 Sunderland 0 - both teams played as well as each other
Norwich 1 Crystal Palace 0 - Norwich played better than Crystal Palace
Everton 4 Stoke City 0 - Everton played better than Stoke City
West Ham 3 Fulham 0 - West Ham played better than Fulham
Newcastle 2 West Brom 1 - Newcastle played better than West Brom
Arsenal 3 Cardiff 0 - Arsenal played better than Cardiff
Spurs 2 Manchester United 2 - both teams played as well as each other
Hull City 3 Liverpool 1 - Hull City played better than Liverpool
Manchester City 3 Swansea 0 - Manchester City played better than Swansea
Chelsea 3 Southampton 1 - Chelsea played better than Southampton
WEST HAM 3 FULHAM 0 - FALSE THREE FAILS JOL
At kick-offs, Fulham used a tactically interesting ploy to start the match for one half, and in the three restarts following each goal. Adel Taraabt and Darren Bent would take a straight forward kick-off, with a short pass, but Steve Sidwell lurked as a kind of ‘false kick-off taker’ just by the two ‘true’ kick-off takers. Unfortunately for Martin Jol, these kick-offs failed defensively, as Fulham conceded three goals.
CHELSEA 3 SOUTHAMPTON 1 - POCHETTINO SPEAKS ENGLISH
Mauricio Pochettino was heard speaking English to the fourth assistant on the touchline, while querying a decision. If you have a look at the heatmap in the press box, you can see the tangible rage coming off some of the petty Little Englanders, furious that he will not engage with them in God’s Own Language.
When Alvaro Negredo was replaced by James Milner, it seemed like Manuel Pellegrini was looking to hold onto the win without risking anything defensively. Milner, a man made out of a robot, is tactically disciplined and able to do the simple things well and the necessary things cleverly.
He is also capable of an excellent pass at times, and his ball over the top to Sergio Aguero was impressive. Credit, then, goes not to Milner for the pass, but for Pellegrini for being responsible for the swap of personnel. Just look at the simplicity of the move:
Congratulations and good luck to Tom Daley for having the courage to face down the rampant homophobia in society and its digital extension, by announcing he is in a same-sex relationship.
Given the arrest of Derby County fans for homophobic abuse at Brighton’s ground as recently as September 2013, it seems that might be an indicator as to the reason for the number of openly gay or bisexual professional footballers in England, seen in this bar chart below:
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 MANCHESTER UNITED 2 - LONG RANGE GOALS
Sandro's brilliant long-range goal against Manchester United brought to mind the age old tactical question: if it's so easy to score from distance like that, why doesn't everyone do it? The only real conclusion is that they should. Everyone should score more from far out - undeniably, there'd be a lot more long range goals if people did.
Vertical - kicking the ball forward, but for pseuds.
Horizontal - kicking the ball sideways, but for pseuds.
Diagonal - kicking the ball vertically and sideways at the same time, but this has as yet escaped the massed hiveminds of tactical experts.