Pressing statistics have been bandied around recently in the form of PPDA (passes per defensive action). PPDA is not very nuanced for tactical use as it covers the whole pitch rather than specific areas.
I haven’t got time this week to break anything like that down and cut video etc so I tried to think of a more interesting way to present more generic pressing metrics.
Before that though, a terminology breakdown. Pressing? Closing down in old school parlance. You will also often see defensive systems being spoken about in three categories. The low block, mid block and high block.
Essentially, a high block means your midfield and forwards are closing down opposition moves from high up the pitch, forcibly trying to put opposition defenders under pressure when they build play from the back.
A low block would be when your midfielders and forwards drop off, and allow the opposition into your half before making moves to put pressure on the ball and challenges in.
Then there’s all the stages in between those extremes in a mid-block.
Back to the metrics.
If you plotted teams on such pressing scales versus xG conceded against (in open play) how would it look? Like this:
There’s a ton of stories there but we’ll concentrate on Everton.
As you’ll know from watching, Everton’s forward line works its arse off closing down the opposition: Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Calvert-Lewin, Bernard. My pressing metric backs this up. Everton are pressing higher and harder than City.
It’s been pretty damn successful too. Everton is not giving up a stack of chances in open play (in terms of xG) as you can see from the graphic. For Bournemouth, though, it’s not quite working out at the minute. Pressing higher is not necessarily pressing better!
So what happens if you plot the press against individual chances in open play rather than the aggregate? This:
Everton still look pretty solid. City though, when they get breached, they get breached and expose their keeper big time. Bournemouth are also pretty bad on that score, and we see Chelsea sneaking into that bracket too.
It’s a positive for Everton to take into today’s game at City, a glimmer of hope if you fancy trying to hang your hat on something.