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PL 2013/14: Zone Time

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Another short article.

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 example above was from the Sunderland v man City fixture. City are shooting from right to left and thus spent a huge chunk of time - whether in possession or not - in Sunderland's zone.

If we change those percentage stats into per90 stats the splits look like this

Attacking Zone 36.9 minutes

Neutral Zone 41.4 minutes

Defensive Zone 11.7 minutes.

Those minutes splits are where the action took place in that particular fixture. If we log every PL game for every team and use the same percentage to per90 calculation we end up with a sortable table like this:

Zone Time (13 PL Games)

O Zone Time N Zone Time D Zone Time
Tottenham 28.1 40.8 21.1
Chelsea 27.3 40.8 21.8
Everton 27.1 38.5 24.4
Man City 27 42.1 21
West Ham 26.6 40.3 23.3
Liverpool 26 39.3 25.4
Man United 26 41.6 22.4
Arsenal 25.3 40.7 24
Southampton 24.8 39.7 25.5
West Brom 24.8 40.4 24.8
Norwich 24.3 39.5 26.2
Swansea 24.1 44.6 22.8
Hull 24 41.4 24.6
Newcastle 23.2 42.7 24.1
Aston Villa 23.1 41.6 25.3
Palace 23.1 38.9 28
Cardiff 22.6 40.6 27
Stoke 22.6 41 26.4
Sunderland 22.6 40.8 26.7
Fulham 21.5 41.1 28.4

This table is sortable, so play around.

Man City are pretty good, Fulham are terrible and Arsenal are average. Score effects will have an impact on some teams' numbers with Arsenal and Liverpool just two of the teams that will be impacted by said score effects.

The chart below shows the correlations between Goal Difference and Attacking Zone Time & None-Defensive Zone Time:


Adding in neutral zone minutes slightly improves the correlation between GD and Attacking zone time, but it's a really close run thing. (I'll run some correlations between zone time and TSR and the like in good time)

It's also worth noting that these correlations should improve once we get the 20 game mark or so. Or maybe they won't, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

In short, zone time is a proxy for territorial control: keeping the ball away from your own end is a pretty good tactic at the basic level.


West Ham are an interesting team by the zone time numbers. Hell, Big Sam was only on the TV two nights ago talking about the importance of zone entries.

I have zone entry time formatted as rolling averages. Some teams' numbers are on my twitter feed.

In a few days or so I will post on each teams possession percentage within each zone of play. It may throw up some interesting bits of information.