19 games, 19 opponents. A fair fixture list right? Not quite.
I believe, and I could be wrong, that the timing of a fixture is important. Form - whatever that is - does fluctuate. Some teams have hot starts then cool, some teams start poorly and take a certain number of games to get into stride.
So, being the geek that I am I attempted to track these fluctuations in order to see if teams' strength of schedule do differ from one another. To do this I tracked seven different stat categories and for each team I tracked their opponents number in each category at the time of fixture.
TSR = Share of the total shots
SoTR = Share of the shots on target
PDO = Scoring% and Save% added together is called PDO. Regresses heavily.
GD Ratio = Goal Share
Final 1/3rd = share of the final third passes
Shots On Target Rating = how efficient teams are at getting their shots on goal and preventing the opposition from doing likewise.
So, all these numbers are recorded at the time of fixture. The numbers next to each team name indicate their opponents average in each category. In short, how difficult has each teams' schedule been through the first 19 games.
Tabele is sortable and set to SoTR.
|Opp TSR||Opp SoTR||Opp PDO||GD Ratio||Final 1/3rd||SoT Rating||Possession|
So looking through this table a few things stand out:
- Teams do have slightly different strength of schedules.
- Cardiff have had the toughest schedule in terms of opponents SoTR, final Third Passing and Possession%. An argument may be made that this is due to not having faced themselves! Although, Fulham and Sunderland have the same issues and haven't faced schedules nearly as strong.
- Liverpool have had the easiest schedule in terms of TSR, Fulham the easiest SoTR.
- Arsenal and Chelsea have had the hardest schedules in terms of opponents PDO.
- Swansea, Chelsea and Man City the weakest final third teams.
- Stoke and Man City the hardest fixture list by SoT Rating, or shooting efficiency, or whatever we are calling this stat nowadays.
Regression of Strength Of Schedule
I highlighted two teams here: One team who has seen their schedule get easier as the season has wore on and another team who has seen their schedule become more difficult.
We know that Man United faced a fierce opening few fixtures to the 13/14 season and that at some point they had to face weak teams:
First 5 games: Swansea, Chelsea, Liverpool,Palace, Man City.
Last 4 games: Villa, West ham, Hull and Norwich.
The timing of fixtures is important, as Man United help to demonstrate. Tough fixtures to start the season saw some difficult results. The last four games however have been against weak competition and shock horror, Man United have won out. Again, the timing is important: Villa are sliding, West Ham are sliding, Norwich are sliding and only Hull are on a decent run by results and underlying metrics.