Which Teams Are Best At Defeating A Parked Bus?

Liverpool’s win against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend was obviously well received by Reds everywhere, but at the same time it didn’t teach them anything new about the strengths and weaknesses of their team. Jürgen Klopp’s men have been ruthless this season against teams who play a high line, as Spurs did to suicidal effect at Anfield, but they have seemed toothless against the low block favoured by the Premier League’s lesser lights.

The Tomkins Times published a very good article this week (here) which looked at how Liverpool have fared against teams who have ‘parked the bus’ against them this season. The findings were certainly interesting, but in my continual quest for context with statistical analysis, I thought it would be worthwhile comparing the Reds to the other members of the big six to see how each team has fared. My assumption is that all teams struggle against a low block, but is that actually the case?

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Race For The Top Four: An Analysis

I recently appeared on an Anfield Index Analytics podcast (which you can listen to here) in which host Dan Kennett and I ran through the pros and cons of the five contenders who are aiming for a third or fourth placed finish in the Premier League this season. As there is only one third of 2014/15 now remaining, I thought I’d share the stats and my thoughts here.

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Balotelli vs Welbeck

When Danny Welbeck made his slightly surprising move from Manchester United to Arsenal on transfer deadline day, I noted that there were several parallels with Liverpool’s new signing, Mario Balotelli.

Both born in 1990, the two strikers each moved for a fee of £16m to teams of broadly similar standard. The obvious question to consider is therefore which of the two will score the most goals this season?

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Is Time On Liverpool’s Side?

We keep hearing (from Jose Mourinho, mainly) that Liverpool are challenging for the title due to them not having to play in Europe (as if Champions League income doesn’t help with that particular ‘chore’, but let’s ignore that for now).

Whilst it is true that the other teams in the top four have played more games than the Reds this season, I thought it’d be interesting to break it down per player to see what the extra workload is. After all, these teams have bigger squads as they have more money to spend, so what difference do the extra games make per man?

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Liverpool vs Arsenal: Chance Quality Preview

I posted an image on Twitter earlier in the week, which showed how many assists each Premier League team has got this season against their expected assist rate from my Chance Quality system.

As the top two overachievers meet at Anfield on Saturday lunchtime, I thought it was worth taking a closer look at their figures to see if either side has an edge in any particular area of the pitch.

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Arsenal 2 Liverpool 0: Stats Zone Analysis

Where are Liverpool at the moment? Did anyone truly believe that they are realistic title contenders? I suspect that if they did before this match, then they probably don’t anymore.

Yet as much as the result was disappointing, there were some crumbs of comfort to take from Liverpool’s performance.

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Walcott To Liverpool?

As rumours circulate that Theo Walcott is refusing to sign a new deal at Arsenal, so people begin to speculate where he might end up if he left north London.

Having looked at his key stats from last season, and compared them with those of Liverpool’s squad, I’m beginning to think that I would like him to move to Anfield. Based on the numbers at least, he could improve the Reds in several areas.

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Robin van Persie: 2011/12 Distorts The Picture

As a Liverpool fan, I wouldn’t normally write about other teams or players. However, the news today that Robin van Persie will not be signing a new contract at Arsenal (and so only has one year remaining on his current deal) set Twitter alight, so I thought I’d look up his Premier League statistics.

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Arsenal 0 Liverpool 2 – How important was the sending off?

Liverpool beat Arsenal 2-0 last weekend, and staked an early claim for a place in the top four. But until Emmanuel Frimpong was sent off in the 70th minute, the match was fairly even, with the young Gunner who was making his debut playing well (a few hot-headed moments aside).

But what impact did the red card have on the match? The statistics show that Liverpool’s passing was markedly more accurate against the ten men; nothing unusual in that, with them having more space to play in and less opposition players trying to stop them, but I took a look at the Guardian’s Chalkboards to try to quantify the difference.

Here’s a comparison of where on the pitch Liverpool attempted their passes before and after the dismissal of Frimpong:

The big difference between the two chalkboards above is that Liverpool actually attempted some passes in the Arsenal box following the sending off, something they’d not managed earlier in the match.

It’s important to remember that immediately following the sending off Kenny Dalglish made a double substitution: Luis Suárez and Raul Meireles replaced Andy Carroll and Dirk Kuyt. The impact of this can be seen on the chalkboards.

The two most attacking wide squares accounted for 7% of the teams attempted passes whilst Carroll was on the pitch. Safe to assume that quite a few of these passes may have been crosses towards the big man.

The figure for the same areas dropped to just 2% after his substitution. Liverpool also increased the percentage of their passes in the two squares directly in front of the home team’s penalty box; from 7% to 9% after the substitution.

This was demonstrated in the central play in the build up to both of the team’s goals. Frimpong’s self imposed absence lead to space in the middle of the pitch, and Dalglish exploited that superbly with a tactical and personnel switch.

I have also taken a look at where on the pitch the completed passes originated from:

As you would expect, these figures mirror the changes seen with the attempted passes – less out wide and more through the middle. Perhaps the key thing here is the 1% figure in the right half of Arsenal’s penalty box on the second chalkboard, as this is Meireles’ assist for the second goal which wrapped up the three points.

Liverpool’s passing accuracy stats are the best way to sum up the difference the sending off had on the outcome of the match:

Up to 70 minutes – 377 passes attempted, 281 completed –

74.54%

70 mins to end – 168 passes attempted, 144 completed –

85.71%

Quite a difference. In 22% of the match (the final 20 minutes), the Reds attempted 31% of their total passes, and logged 34% of their total completed passes.

Sending off + double substitution = massive difference to result. Kudos to Kenny for making Frimpong’s foolishness benefit his team.

Please take a look at my other articles, a list of which can be found here.