10 Points: Manchester Luck, Balotelli, Chelsea And Wigan (Week 25)

Alex Livesey

The usual roundup of talking points, statistics and goals of the week.

1) Swansea's Away Goals Swansea are a curious bunch;Scoring 22 goals at home and just 12 away, including five away goals on the seasons opening day. The Swans have failed to score on 8 occasions away from home, so what's happening to Swansea when they play on the road?

Swansea have taken 66 shots on target at home and 50 away from home. A significant gap but not enough to explain a 12 goal difference.

Swa_sc__25_medium

Swansea's away scoring% is massively skewed by that opening day 5-0 win, but it's clear that Swansea's scoring rate, away from home, is poor and declining. Swansea's away possession is good, but they are being beaten in the shot count, failing to score and are being kept in games by a high save%.

Swansea will be an interesting team to look out for next year. Yes, they play an attractive brand of football and are capable of springing the odd upset, but their away form is solely held together only by an unsustainably high save% and an average of just 1.33 ppg at home is not impressive enough to cover for what may be worse away form next year.

2) You knew this would happen, right?

3) Reading's Comeback Wins Wow, another comeback win and another late one at that. Reading have won just 4 games this season, with 3 of those wins in the last 4 games. It is strong, yet out of character, form.

Of Readings 4 wins this term they have been leading for just 30 minutes in total. Thirty!. That minutes count is hardly indicative of a team that has turned the corner despite 10 points in the last 4 games:

Read_tsw_25_medium

Reading spend twice the amount of time in a losing position compared to a winning position. Not quite sure how to put that all together just yet, but it's not good.

4) Manchester's Points per Game: 2011/12 and 2012/13 We know Man United are way ahead of Man City as it stands, infact they are way ahead of where they were at this point last season.

Mcr_ppg_25_medium

Man City, if they had won v Liverpool wouldn't have been too far off their ppg number from this time last year. City ended last year with 89 points which included a dip in form, as seen above. For 89 points this year City would need to win 12 and lose 1. Both impossible and improbable.

Man United have somehow managed to keep this good, and lucky, form going far longer than I expected. Their form this year is significantly better than this time last term. RvP is touted as the 'difference' but he hasn't added anything to United's shots totals, he has merely finished his chances at a higher rate than Rooney and Hernandez, who he has taken a share of shots from.

86 points should be enough for United, and that is just 8 wins from 13 games. 86 points is well within United's ability, and probably beyond City's.

5) City and United's Scoring% and Save%. But not as we know it.

I've been doing some work on PL teams' ability at certain game states, by this I mean wining by a goal, losing by a goal etc etc. For this point I want to look at City and United's scoring % and save % ability when winning and losing by a single goal and when the game is tied. Hopefully this shows us some interesting things:

Gs_25_city_sc_perc_medium

Looking at just these 3 game states is vitally important. The most important game state is when zero or when the game is tied followed equally by +1 and -1. A huge percentage of game time, shots and goals are scored at these game states, so it's only natural that we should investigate these areas further.

In the table above we can see how United score at a better rate than City and concede at a lower rate than City. United's numbers at a tied game state look about par for their talent, at +1 and -1 they are simply off the charts, and yes we are dealing with small samples and all, but surely United's pdo numbers at +1 and -1 cannot be maintained?

Man United are a good team, but not a very good one, who are propped up by some unique 'talent' and some Jupiter sized luck. A shot on target pdo of 140 at a -1 game state?

6) Liverpool Impress I wrote this about Liverpool on the morning of Sunday's game:

Liverpool will be a tough opponent for Man City, but if the blues can hold their own in the possession battle and win the shots on target battle, as they have done for nearly every game, then this seasons data tells us Liverpool may struggle to gain a positive result at the Etihad.

Liverpool were indeed a tough opponent, as was expected. City neither won the possession or shots on target battle and thus it was unlikely City were going to be able to secure 3 points. Take nothing away from Liverpool who, despite those 2 goals from 1 in 40 chance outside the box shots, played really well in a stadium that is notoriously difficult to visit these days.

Liverpool got strong performances from a number of players, as they needed to, but Sturridge stood out for me. His touch was, and always has been, good, ditto for his movement and shooting ability. I'd go as far as to say, on that evidence, he is exactly what Chelsea need and dare I say it, maybe what Man City need.

A pacey, technically gifted forward who is just 23 years old? Sounds like Mario without the scoring droughts.

7) Goal of the week part 1

8) Can Wigan Escape? MixedKnuts, one of Bitter and Blue's newer authors, had a run down of the relegation candidates on his twitter feed a few days ago. His thoughts on QPR and Reading made a lot of sense.

But what about Wigan, the perennial strugglers? The narrative on Wigan is 'this is the year they finally go down' and somehow they evade that drop. Last year's escape was a miracle of the like we have rarely seen, Wigan for a run of 9 games went from dead in the water to exhibiting a level of points per game form that would have seen them win the PL title if extended over 38 games. It was simply staggering.

Wigan_ppg_25_medium

This year Wigan are tracking slightly ahead of the previous seasons ppg number, but it's a close run thing. Wigan may well need another burst of form similar, if not as spectacular, to last seasons in order to save their PL status.

The issues for Wigan this year are the poor home form, a squad that's more model thin than previous years, and which is now being hit hard by injuries at just the wrong time. At least one of the relegation haunted teams will complete a great escape. Could it be Wigan, again?

9) Where do Chelsea go from here? Another loss, and a painfull one at that. This loss wasn't cruel or unjust, far from it, instead it highlighted Chelsea's frailty and weakness. Newcastle outplayed the visitors and heavily outshot them and Chelsea deserved the defeat which featured Terry and Cole finally looking the aging players that they are.

I feel a bit sorry for Benitez, infact I will feel sorry for any manager who takes the Chelsea job from here on out. Zero job security, a declining squad with the sneaky ability to hang the manager out to dry and a reportedly ultra-meddling and impatient owner--what's not to like?!

Che_ppg_25_medium

Benitez was brought in to replace the struggling RdM, who presided over a pretty strong start to the season albeit during possibly the easiest run of fixtures any PL team will see in this or any other season. After two strong starts to seasons Chelsea, from the 13th game onwards, have sunk continued form which sits below 2 ppg.

Is sub 2 points per game form actually Chelsea's real level? Despite heavy investment and three managers, it may well be. Chelsea will probably have another new manager in the summer who will bring renewed hope and new systems, but he will be a manager who will, ultimately, fail to halt what may be the natural cycle of decline?

10) Goal of the week part 2 A touch more painfull this one. But it's a classic from the long range master


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