Do The Black Cats really have another life left? Defoe.

Well, last time out I had some concerns that City were looming on the horizon following an easy-ish run of opening fixtures for Everton.

The numbers underneath the draw with City, weren’t pretty (albeit with two pens chucked in). They suggest that a 3-0 drubbing would have been the most common result, and that even getting smashed for 5 would’ve been more likely than the MoM show that we got from Maarten Stekelenburg:

city-v-everton-yesterdayThe result turned out ok but it felt like the knife to a gun-fight kind of performance that David Moyes would have been criticised for and Roberto Martinez seemed incapable of organising.

Looking at the league table, it would appear that Wor Davie has been taking a water pistol to Sunderland’s gun-fights so far this season. The data, however, suggests that there are some signs of life still in the Black Cats despite them being run over 6 times in the last 8 weeks.

While sorting out my snazzy new interactive viz this week, I was interested in seeing which forwards were getting into the best and most regular positions to score from in open play. Jermain Defoe is smashing EVERYONE. On average, each of his chances has been 20-25% better than the other top forwards in the league.

The viz shows how the ball’s been delivered to him in and around the danger zone:

defoe-chances-receivedI decided to do an eye test and the model’s assertion seems reasonable. Defoe’s getting onto the end of a range of chances, coming from all sides. Until, now he’s only scored from one of them. The probability of it staying that way is low:


Meantime, I got short shrift from Spurs fans on twitter for my Hugo Lloris can’t keep this level of shot-stopping up comments. He is so far. Keep scoffing…it’s going to come down, kids.

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On Everton, Spurs and Man City

Last month’s post looked at how Maarten Stekelenburg couldn’t hope to keep his early season shot-stopping performance up. Fast-forward a month and the Dutchman has conceded 3 goals from the 4 shots on target he’s faced in the Premier League since then.

However, the good news is that based on my expected goals model, Everton now boast the meanest defensive set-up in the league. The Blues are keeping a lid on both the volume and quality of shots on target they’re conceding.

Everton have conceded 5 now and they’ve faced a set of shots that is likely to have yielded 5 goals for the opposition. To put that in to some context, Spurs have only conceded 3 when they are more likely to have conceded 6 or 7. Lloris will regress in the same way Stekelenburg did.

It may make more sense with visualized shot maps. Here’s the shots on target Everton conceded so far:


And here’s the shots on target Spurs have faced so far. No way they can keep this up:


That said, one at least has to mumble something about the fixture list being kind so far to Everton, and that City loom large this week.

With the last couple of results being disappointing, it’s tempting to say Koeman is now finding out for himself problems which have been apparent for a fair while. One of these is figuring out which 3 players to play behind Romelu Lukaku.

Koeman went out and bought Yannick Bolasie for £25m so he’s going to play. This is fair enough as currently, the Congolese international is in the top ten in the league for creating chances in open play. He’s 8th in fact according to my expected assists model.

But he’s the only one really weighing in right now. Ross Barkley, despite actually creating more chances than Bolasie sits in 45th, and Mirallas is 77th.  Again, visualisations help here. You’ll see Bolasie is getting the ball right into the danger areas, whereas the others (Gerard Deulofeu included) aren’t at all:


On top of this, whatever the make up of the front four is, none are great at keeping the ball in the final third. How long can Gareth Barry’s legs hold out once Everton start playing the good teams?

This is going to be tested to the max versus Man City. You won’t be surprised to hear that in those chance creation rankings, Kevin De Bruyne is 2nd and David Silva is 4th. That’s built on them being able to thread chances into the danger areas not from out wide, but through the middle.

Those chances are gold. And Man City are the craftsmen of the Premier League here – 42% of the chances they create in open play to the penalty box are fed in from central areas. It’s going to be fun!

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