It’s been a positive start to the season for Everton and the fans are happy.
Which players have been impressive so far? Idrissa Gueye is a new fan favourite, Romelu Lukaku is back scoring goals and Maarten Stekelenburg is looking pretty damn solid compared to what we’ve seen in recent times between the sticks.
The Blues lie third in the table and things are rosy…mostly.
While it’s nice that Everton finally have a keeper in form, a little look at the numbers raises the only cause for concern in the team’s performances to date.
‘Which numbers?’ I hear you scoff.
“Stekelenburg’s numbers,” says I.
The Dutchman’s shot-stopping numbers are twice as good as average.
Which keepers maintain such a level?
None of them…
Imagine a world where each game is played over and over until all the quirks of each game were ironed out. Each team gets the same chances in front of goal. Different outcomes occur. The luck on any particular day is wiped out. Play the game thousands of times over and by the end, what ‘should’ have happened, happened, and you get your ‘fair’ result – a new reality.
Basically, although its anathema to you as an Evertonian, I want you to act like a Liverpool fan. Ask yourself: ‘What if?’ over and over until you’ve got what you want and fully justified it to yourself.
Koppite behaviour? Lord, yes.
Everton have conceded just 2 goals so far. I’ve built every shot taken in the Premier League over the last 6 years into a model to tell me how often a certain type of shot can expected to be scored.
The model takes the shots Everton have conceded this season, reaches into this imaginary world and plays the games over and over. It then punches out a nice looking graph. It’s a likely distribution of goals Everton conceded in each world based on the shots faced so far. It tells us that Stekelenburg could have conceded anything up to 10 goals in some worlds. In most worlds he conceded 4 goals:
He’s made some absolute belters already hasn’t he? And this is the slight problem, here. This level of performance isn’t sustainable. The garden’s rosy, but it isn’t perfect.
While a team can only play what’s in front of them, Everton have played three pretty poor teams in the first four games. And in most other worlds would have conceded 4 times. In fact, Everton were more likely to have conceded 5 or 6 goals than 2 from that set of shots.
What am I saying? The defensive frailties haven’t suddenly been fixed overnight by Roanld Koeman. The outcomes may lead you to think they have been. The process is actually still ongoing. Stek’s numbers can only steadily get worse until they drop back down to this world. The planet we live on.
Get prepared for a slightly new reality in the not too distant future.
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