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The Halfway Point in 2013/14: Zone Time

Zone time is a pretty simple premise: How many minutes per game does each team spend in the opponents final third or the middle third of the pith, or their own defensive third. An introductory article can be found here

An explanation:

You know when you watch a PL game on TV and occasionally the broadcaster puts up a territory map and it doesn't really make much sense.



Well, if we convert this percentage (100) into a per 90 number then we can talk about the amount of time each team spends in the attacking zone or the neutral (middle third) zone or their own defensive zone.

The Halfway Point In 13/14

This table is sortable so sort away and figure out things like which teams have been hemmed into their own zone, or which teams spend a lot of time in the middle third of the pitch.

O Zone Time N Zone Time D Zone Time
Chelsea 27.8 40.5 21.8
Tottenham 27.7 41 21.4
Everton 26.9 38.6 24.7
Man City 26.9 41.8 21.4
Man United 26 40.4 22.7
West Ham 26 39.1 24.9
West Brom 25.7 39.8 24.5
Arsenal 25.6 40.2 24.1
Liverpool 25.5 39.2 25.4
Norwich 25 37.7 26.4
Southampton 24.7 40.3 25.1
Newcastle 24 42.3 23.7
Hull 23.7 41.5 24.8
Swansea 23.5 43.9 23.6
Cardiff 23.4 39.9 26.9
Palace 23.4 39.1 27.5
Sunderland 23.3 39.8 26.9
Aston Villa 22.8 41.8 25.4
Fulham 22.2 41 27.7
Stoke 22.1 40.9 27

Score effects and tactical setups certainly play a part in skewing some of these numbers, so we need to be wary of drawing too many conclusions.

Man City and Tottenham have spent the least amount of time in their own defensive third. Fulham, Palace and Stoke have spent the most amount of time in their own defensive third.

Anyhow the table is up there, so play around with it.


So I took the average number of minutes spent in each zone for all 20 teams and split that information into two groups: first 10 games and the next 9 games. Not perfect, the number of games don't match and there may well have been scheduling imbalances that could skew these numbers, but anyhow, these are the r2 relationships between the two groups of games:

Offensive Zone Time 0.444
Neutral Zone Time 0.569
Defensive Zone Time 0.586

The average number of minutes spent in the defensive zone is the more repeatable of the three of zones that I tracked. Why is that? No idea.


Let's go back now and look at the average number of minutes each team spends in the attacking zone and the defensive zone:


By the naked eye there appears to be a slight relationship between being a team that spends a lot of minutes in the attacking zone and being a team who does not spend a lot of time in their own defensive zone. The r2 between the two sets of numbers above is r2=0.607 which is pretty good, although not great.

It's all very intuitive really: Good teams spend a lot of time attacking and thus not too much time defending. That principle again shows up when talking of the amount of time teams spend in the attacking and defensive zones.

Final Word

Good teams: Chelsea, City, Tottenham and Man United.

Bad Teams: Stoke, Fulham, Palace, Cardiff, Sunderland

These teams pass the 'smell test'. These numbers don't look too far out to what we intuitively know about the good and bad teams of the 13/14 PL season so far.