The Halfway Point In 2013/14: Strength Of Schedule

Trying to analyse a teams fixture list is a tricky business; each team has now played every opponent in the league (I hope!) at the halfway stage and thus it may be fair to say that each team would have an identical strength of schedule. But it doesn't quite work out like that.

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.

Stats:

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.

Table

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
Cardiff 52.49 52.02 98.68 0.507 52.81 98.41 52.4
Stoke 48.36 51.68 98.88 0.498 50.25 103.57 48.8
Southampton 51.24 51.66 100.71 0.492 51.72 100.73 51.6
Newcastle 50.15 51.28 99.44 0.519 48.44 102.04 47.7
Sunderland 49.49 51.27 98 0.493 50.79 99.62 48.6
Chelsea 50.66 51 103.51 0.529 47.39 100.02 48.0
Man United 50.38 49.72 101.58 0.531 48.05 97.94 46.9
Liverpool 46.77 49.51 99.56 0.485 48.35 99.54 49.0
Man City 50.08 49.28 99.97 0.495 47.41 102.15 52.3
Aston Villa 51.31 49.2 101.49 0.512 49.37 96.84 48.2
Everton 50.98 48.77 101.41 0.502 51.58 100.77 48.7
Palace 48.56 48.68 99.61 0.473 50.81 101.52 47.0
Tottenham 50.12 48.6 101.95 0.489 49.38 99.13 49.8
West Ham 48.77 48.52 98.41 0.469 51.05 102.11 50.8
Hull 49.69 48.42 101.8 0.503 48.84 101.04 50.4
West Brom 49.83 48.29 98.25 0.443 48.06 96.82 47.5
Arsenal 49.96 48.19 103.95 0.572 49.79 99.55 48.3
Norwich 49.17 47.84 100.64 0.48 48.1 98.38 48.5
Swansea 49.15 46.42 101.01 0.481 46.65 99.28 47.1
Fulham 50.3 45.21 98.67 0.434 51.5 95.99 51.0

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.
This table is sortable, so play around and have a look. I am not entirely certain that my method of tracking opponents metrics at the time of fixture is the best method. early season noise can skew some of the numbers, but as yet I haven't thought of a way around that particular problem.

Examples

Regression of Strength Of Schedule

Sos_19_medium

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.

Man United

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:

Sos_mu_19_medium

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.

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