Time Part II: +1 Game State

In the previous article title Time I looked at each Premier league club and the average amount of time per game that they spent winning, drawing or Losing. In part 2 i want to focus on how long each team spent at +1 game State and specifically the shots totals of each team.

The first question is: Why Plus 1 Game State? It's simple, when a team goes a goal ahead (+1 GS) strange things happen, the team that is leading tends to take less shots, they usually sit deeper and solidify their defensive shape at the expense of searching for a second goal. Not all teams employ this system, but in close games where the teams are evenly matched and there is just the 1 goal between the teams (+1) it's a pretty frequent tactic.

This defensive shell causes no small havoc for those of us who use Total Shots Ratio, for the team with the 1 goal lead are routinely outshot at this game state, whereas at every other game state we usually see the stonger team out-shoot the opposition.

The Plus 1 Game State is a unique beast, the team who gained the lead simply sits off, protects it's game position and doesn't care for being outshot. Why? Because the defensive shell employed by the team at +1 attempts to restrict the opposition to poor quality shots, it blocks more shots and this is all due to the leading teams defensive organization.

A team who spends a lot of game time at +1 Game State will take less shots and concede more shots in comparison to their time at any other Game State. That is the very basic rule.


+1

Plus 1
Man United 1033
Chelsea 852
Everton 829
Man City 712
Aston Villa 693
Fulham 686
Arsenal 631
Southampton 618
West Brom 616
Tottenham 597
Newcastle 572
Liverpool 563
Stoke 525
Sunderland 524
West Ham 505
Wigan 485
Norwich 476
Reading 408
QPR 248
Swansea 243

Manchester United are by far and away the team who has spent the most time at +1 Game State. As stated this plays havoc with overall TSR predictions, it also means Man United spend a lot of time in the supposed defensive shell and this has implications for scoring% and save%, both of which rise slightly at +1. Spending this amount of time at +1 is incredible and it helps explain some of Man United's strange and lower TSR number this year. Spending this amount of time also has tactical consequences: United go into a defensive shell of sorts, they counter attack, they block shots and they restrict the opposition (more on this later).

Chelsea and Everton show pretty well, Man City are way down on last years number. Arsenal and Liverpool fall down a little at time spent at +1 for strange reasons. These two clubs struggled somewhat against the Big 6 but when they played weaker opposition they tended to steamroll them, racking up goals, dishing out hammerings and usually that meant fewer minutes spent at +1 and more minutes spent at +2 onwards.

The worst team in the league? Swansea. Worse than Wigan, QPR and Reading. Again, there is a little of Swansea racing through the game states and not spending much time at +1, there was also many a game where Swansea were drawing or trailing late and came up with crucial goals at the death to snatch wins. On a general, unrelated point I must say I am a little concerned for Swansea next year.

Shots For And Against

Plus 1 sf sa
Arsenal 631 137 106
Aston Villa 693 88 126
Chelsea 852 152 153
Everton 829 160 129
Fulham 686 80 141
Liverpool 563 119 76
Man City 712 164 101
Man United 1033 154 147
Newcastle 572 88 112
Norwich 476 56 98
QPR 248 25 57
Reading 408 39 80
Southampton 618 91 97
Stoke 525 62 101
Sunderland 524 54 120
Swansea 243 46 53
Tottenham 597 122 80
West Brom 616 79 103
West Ham 505 84 112
Wigan 485 51 80

Sortable.

Here we see each teams shots for and against at the +1 Game State. Because we know how many shots a team took, and conceded, all we need to do now is some simple maths and calculate which teams were least likely to conceded a shot at +1 when in this defensive shell.

I am going to use Minutes per shot in the next table even though I loathe it.

Shots Against Rate

Minutes Per Shot Against
Tottenham 7.46
Liverpool 7.4
Man City 7.05
Man United 7.02
Everton 6.42
Southampton 6.37
Wigan 6.06
West Brom 5.98
Arsenal 5.95
Chelsea 5.56
Aston Villa 5.24
Stoke 5.19
Newcastle 5.1
Reading 5.1
Fulham 4.86
Norwich 4.85
Swansea 4.58
West Ham 4.5
Sunderland 4.36
QPR 4.35

What this table shows us is pretty cool. It tells us which teams go the longest amount of time without conceding a shot.

I'm not sure anyone will be surprised by the teams in the bottom 8 positions of this table.

Chelsea reside in mid-table, and it must be said this Chelsea team had serious problems trying, or maybe not even trying, to 'shell' at +1 as is evident by the amount of goals and points (18) they surrendered when at the +1 Game State.

Tottenham, Liverpool, Man City and Man United are all over 7 minutes per shot against, and are clear of the rest of the league, but why? Do these teams have superior defensive tactics or is it something else?

Shots For Rate

Minutes Per Shot For
Liverpool 2.35
Arsenal 3.04
Swansea 3.07
Man City 3.17
Chelsea 3.27
Tottenham 3.61
Everton 3.65
West Ham 3.91
Man United 4.34
Newcastle 5.15
Southampton 5.28
West Brom 5.75
Fulham 6.01
Aston Villa 6.48
Norwich 6.7
Sunderland 6.8
Stoke 6.81
Wigan 7.69
QPR 9.18
Reading 10.2

Remember, the lower the number the better, for this indicates that team X is shooting more frequently.

My initial hunch was the teams who concede shots infrequently were not employing a defensive shell but were merely still attacking and thus pinning the opposition back. But my hunch is wrong, in parts, at least.

Exempting Swansea due to a small sample, we can see that the Liverpool (wow), Arsenal, City and Chelsea were the teams who shot most frequently and these may be teams who did not employ a strict defensive shell, or maybe they were simply just better than the opposition they were beating.

*Just a hunch but aren't the top 5 teams in this chart the league's 5 best passing/possession teams and if so, does outshooting the opposition at +1 stem from being able to control the football despite the opposition pushback?

Looking down the chart the top seven teams (sans Swansea) in shots for rate are the top 7 teams in the league, defensive shells, or outshooting may be simply due to having better players, better coaching and a better setup.

The bottom 3 teams in shots for rate were all relegated, the teams just above them were all in serious trouble at one time or another.

Final Thoughts

Minutes spent at +1 really matters. Logically, the longer a team spends at +1 the more likely they are to win a football match, they are also more likely to score the second goal of the game. A team like United who spent a crazy amount of time at +1 will have their PDO and scoring %'s boosted as they are able to counter into space and create more open scoring chances whilst seeing their save% rise as the opposition breaks its teeth on a solidified defensive setup.

The advantages are clear. The one draw back for people use TSR as a predictive tool is that a teams TSR is affected by time spent spent at +1 and in United's or Chelsea's case hugely affected. TSR is a good tool, Close TSR is a superior one.

As for shot rates I really need more time to think about this new stat and how big the spread is, but it appears some teams are far better than others at restricting opposition shots. Some teams - City and Liverpool and maybe Tottenham - seem to do this by simply carrying on attacking (not comfortable with countering?) and playing a style which fits their personnel. Other teams must surely employ defensive shells, but to varying degrees of success.

Arsenal seem to struggle with the concept, maintaining a good rate of shots for but distinctly mid table in shots against. Ditto Chelsea.

Wigan are the most fascinating: A shots against every 6 minutes and a shot for every 7.6 minutes. Wigan were a really low event shots team at +1, this I presume was a deliberate tactic by a Manager who perhaps felt his teams only hope of maintaining their favourable game position was simply to 'shut the game down.'

Any thoughts, suggestions, or ideas please let me know.


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