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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Liverpool vs Manchester United: Expected Goals Preview

This is a very quick one. United have won the last four league meetings between the two teams, but did they deserve to? I’ve used my expected goals system (which is explained in full here) and Danny Page’s match simulator to have a look.

Here are the shot maps and stats from the four matches:

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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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Which Win At Old Trafford Is The Greater?

Following a fantastic 3-0 victory by Liverpool over Manchester United, the debate amongst Kopites has begun over whether this victory was better than the famous 4-1 win in 2008/09.

Whilst there is no way to settle it conclusively, I thought I’d take a quick look at the match stats and make a judgment that way.

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Brendan Rodgers’ Cross To Bear

Due to a fixture scheduling quirk that has been brought about by various teams’ cup involvement, Liverpool’s trip to Old Trafford this weekend is Manchester United‘s first home game in over a month.

Their last run out at the self-styled Theatre Of Dreams was a 2-2 draw with Fulham, which was notable for the Red Devils setting a new Premier League record for the number of crosses by a team in one game: eighty-two. Eighty-two!

Liverpool are widely perceived to struggle with crosses defensively, so I thought I’d take a closer look at this issue ahead of the match on Sunday.

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Game 29 Proves Significant

League matches don’t get much bigger for Liverpool than their next one: Manchester United, away. As chance would have it, the meeting happens to fall on the fifth anniversary of the weekend when the Reds returned home along the M62 with all three points following a fabulous 4-1 win at Old Trafford.

Thanks to the home match with Sunderland being postponed, the United away fixture is Liverpool’s twenty-ninth league game of the campaign, just as it was in 2008/09.

Out of curiousity, I decided to see which matches have been the twenty-ninth in the seasons in-between, and it turns out you won’t have forgotten any of them. They have all proved to be significant; some for good reasons, others not so much.

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Better With The Ball? It’s Just A Shot Away

The original version of this article appeared in These Turbulent Times, and the stats (sourced from EPLIndex) were correct up to 29 March 2013. I’ve now updated it to include all of last season so that it covers 1,900 matches worth of data in total, and re-written parts of the article accordingly.

I have read a couple of very interesting statistics with regards to the bearing that having more shots on target (SoT) than your opponent has upon winning football matches. On 24th February, The Guardian advised us:

Of the 181 games won in the Premier League before last weekend, the team who had the most possession only won 103 – 57% in total. The team who had more shots on target than their opponents won 128 matches – 71% of the total.

Then this article, which used a larger sample of 987 matches, chipped in with:

Winning the SoT battle in non-drawn games, results in a team winning that fixture 71.73% of the time and losing the fixture 19.35% of the time.

It seems pretty conclusive; have more shots on target than your opponent, and you’ll win around 71% of the time (when excluding drawn matches). This isn’t in itself that surprising, but it’s valuable to be able to quantify it from a performance monitoring point of view all the same.

But a thought occurred to me; you could win the SoT battle by anything from one in a close game performance-wise to potentially any number (and for the record, Liverpool’s best figure since August 2008 has been twelve on two occasions). Surely accounting for this differential might provide an even better guide than simply who had more shots on target?

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Liverpool 1 Manchester United 0: Stats Zone Analysis

As an owner of a shiny new smartphone, I’ve recently become acquainted with FourFourTwo’s excellent Stats Zone application. Typically, they’ve now made it available on the web too anyway, meaning that I didn’t need the new phone to access it after all.

Anyway, now that I can use Stats Zone, I’m going to post interesting things from there that I spot from the latest Liverpool match, to try to get to the bottom of why the result turned out as it did; in this case, spectacularly well.

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