Friday, February 7, 2014

Visualised EPL player offensive/defensive contributions

click to enlarge
This chart tracks individual players' contribution to team offense and defense across the Premier League season so far. In so doing, it tracks how regularly their teams score a goal while an individual is on the pitch, versus how regularly they concede,  normalised to ninety-minute matches.

In essence, it asks "If every player in this sample played 90 minutes, how often would their teams score and/or concede". It allows us some insight into the individual contributions (or maybe just luck) that each player brings their team. Each team was chosen to ostensibly represent a portion of the table - reigning Champions, Champions League contenders, two from the mid-table and one promoted club.

Team performances are listed for comparative reference.

To qualify, a player must have played a minimum of 600 minutes (of a possible 2160 so far) - hence the absence of notables Shinji Kagawa, Juan Mata, Javier Hernandez, Lewis Holtby, Etienne Capoue and Sandro. Four players from the sample have played every minute of Premiership football this term - Brad Guzan of Villa, Steve Caulker of Cardiff City, United's David De Gea and Michael Dawson at Spurs.

With that said, there are some easy conclusions to draw: first, Emanuel Adebayor may be the most influential offensive player in this sample - Spurs score nearly 0.7 goals more per game when he plays than when he doesn't. Some of this, however, must be down to Tim Sherwood's tactically adventurous spell as manager. That Spurs concede far more frequently while Ade is on the pitch (nearly half a goal more per game) suggests this may have more to do with Sherwood than Adebayor.

A player who actually played for both Villas-Boas and Sherwood - and is thus more representative of Spurs' season as a whole - is Romania captain Vlad Chiriches, whose presence corresponds to an increase in the Whites' productivity by 0.4 goals per game while reducing defensive leaks by half that amount.

Manchester's darling, Adnan Januzaj, is perhaps a greater example of the tactical nuke. While Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney (and latterly Juan Mata) get most of the publicity, Januzaj boosts United's goalscoring by nearly half a goal a game without sacrificing defensive stolidity. van Persie's presence, on a per-minute basis, sees the Red Devils actually scoring less often.

While the numbers claim that Don Cowie is this sample's most ineffective player, this might be somewhat misleading - we can still claim unluckiness. The cluster of Bluebirds (no, shan't say Dragons) in the top left hand corner are superseded by the Scot, who sees the Welsh team concede nearly half a goal more during his matches as when he doesn't play. This may also correspond to his stint in the first team, which occurred just prior to the firing of former manager Malky Mackay.

Further quick grabs: Artur Boruc is super-important and Victor Wanyama is channelling some 2011-style Cheick Tiote stuff for Southampton; Danny Rose seems to be the best left-back option at Spurs; Rio, Rio, Rio - it was nice while it lasted; Andros Townsend's drop from superstar to irrelevance is now nearing completion.

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