No stupendous claims will be made in this article, no tremendous revelations shall be revealed by the power of the word nor graph. Instead, this article shall be a fun read read and a read that shall hopefully, in some ways, show us why certain teams are struggling for form and points in the PL.
The premise is simple: take each teams time spent in a winning position, add it all up and divide by 19 games--our halfway point in the season.
Minutes Spent In A Winning Position
Straightforward, really. Chelsea and Man United have spent 38 minutes in a winning position for each of their first 19 games. It's nearly a whole half of football. A high number could very well be a function of an early goal or a function of a good team who rarely let leads slip from the skillfull grasp.
The best 6 sides in terms of time spent in a winning position occupy 6 of the top 7 places in the Premier League table. Only Man City are absent from that leading pack, and it is Man City who justifiably deserve a closer analysis here. City sit 12th in the above table with 21.2 minutes per game spent in a winning position, sandwiched between those powerhouses of PL football-Stoke and Norwich.
Mancini's outfit aren't a poor side, or, a less dominant team than some of their peers, but they are a side who, despite all the skill and strikers, have only managed to score the opening goal on 8 occasions through 19 games, including just the solitary one first goal of the game away from home. On the one hand, City should be starting games at a better tempo and with an increased level of concentration, but on the other hand, my have they been doing well too win games, no matter how late they left it.
Looking at the foot of the foot of the table we see QPR with an almost unbelievably shambolic average of just 5.9 mionutes spent in a winning position every game. It is, always has been and will continue to be, so difficult to gain many points if a team spends so little time in a winning, game controlling position in their majority of fixtures.
6 of the bottom 7 in the table above lie in a bottom 6 PL position. Swansea are the exception and the oddity.
Minutes Spent In A Drawing Position
When looking at average minutes spent in a drawing position it becomes immediately apparent that there isn't a great diversity or spread between all 20 teams in such a way as there was for minutes spent winning.
West Brom are by many minutes teh most stubborn PL team, spending on average over 66 minutes in a drawing position. Leaves little time for much else, but West Brom have found ways to win games and are sitting prettily near the upper part of the table.
QPR and Reading are middle of the pack teams in the chart above, potentially a sign of teams who attempt to restrict the opposition? I'm at a loss as to how to properly and precisely evaluate minutes spent in a drawing position as I believe, and maybe somewhat erronously believe, that time spent in a drawing position is probably just random luck and chance time distribution of goals.
Minutes Spent In A Losing Position
This, I think, is the most telling graph. It shows us which teams have a greater skill, or some good luck, in not falling into a losing position in games. The average time a PL team spends in a losing position is 23ish minutes.
Of the 8 teams who have spent the least minutes per game in a losing position 7 of them feature in the top 7 of the PL proper, and the other team is that strong, obdurate and tactically disciplined bunch named Stoke. Stoke lead the league in this category and deservedly so when they have accumulated so many clean sheets. Man United are doing just fine by this method, although that isn't testament to their strong defense but moreso a credit to their weirdly good ability to score themselves back into drawing and winning positions in double quick time, hence just 15.8 minutes spent in a losing position per game.
We can see another reason here for QPR's struggles. 33.3 minutes per game are spent in a losing position, asnd thus it can be no real surprise that they have struggled for points this term. QPR are spending too long chasing the game and battling for parity, a tiring exercise that has played out in nearly every game.
5 out of the worst 6 teams in terms of minutes spent in a losing position occupy bottom 6 positions in the PL.
Percentage of time spent in a winning/drawing/losing position.
These are Man United's numbers but in a slightly changed format.. The above graph shows Man United's data in percentage format. The league's best team has seen their own percentage of time spent winning climb steadily throughout the season, and suffering only the slightest of blips in the last two games. Man United's numbers are as outstanding as they are astounding.
QPR's percentage of time spent in winning, as seen above as a moving average, is woeful, and potentially top flight status threatening. Neither improvement nor decline can be seen in their winning%. Qpr's percentage of time spent in a losing position is declining, though, and has done so by over 10 percentage points. The improvement in the % of time spent losing has led to, crucially, not an improvement in time spent winning but in time spent drawing. It is improvement, but it is slow, and an increased amount of time spent in drawing positions will not save them from what many now accept as the inevitable relegation to the Championship.
Thanks for reading.