Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Winter Wondering

Common sense would lead us to believe that goals per game should decrease in the winter months. The best teams start to 'settle down' and 'make their push' for the title while rainy nights in Stoke get harder to manage as the elements take their toll on the playing surfaces.

However, 'common sense' can often lead us astray so I thought we should look at the actual numbers.

The percentage of games in which teams keep clean sheets has been pretty consistent over the years:

2007-08
29%
2008-09
33%
2009-10
29%
2010-11
25%
2011-12
26%

If you limit games to just January and February, we can see the impact of the winter months:


Over 80 games in January and February these trends are going to lead to 4 or 5 extra clean sheets, which is promising but nothing to get overly excited about.

What though, if we limit our search to the 'big teams', the ones who are supposed to be locking in on their way to the big title push. Isn't this the time of year when the United's of the world prove their mettle?

Let's look at the data for the past four seasons:


Not exactly what we were expecting. Aside from Arsenal (who probably wouldn't be considered an elite defensive team at the best of times) and United, the 'elite' sides actually take a slight backwards step in terms of clean sheets kept in January and February. Even United, the supposed kings of the second half, only show a minor improvement (though from a loftier starting position).

Not all analysis will lead to a positive action, some will lead us to not do something. Here, I think we can conclude that defense is not necessarily a major solution to our problems and a different strategy shouldn't really be undertaken in the coming months. With the top teams all having their shaky defensive moments this year, it seems safest to continue with the likes of Enrique, Jones and Richards but continue to avoid going overboard with multiple defenders from any one team.

Next time I will look at goals scored over the next couple of months and see if any particular trends emerge historically.

20 comments:

Chris said...

Is it really advisable to keep the likes of Phil Jones and Richards/Kompany at the same time? Looking at the top teams, it seems that most put more emphasis on midfield and forward and stack the back with budget defenders. Phil was good for an amazing -2 points this past week, which brings his total over the last 4 weeks to zero points.

stooshermadness said...

Chris - intriguing post, bit of an eye-opener. After the Boxing Day games finished where every game either involved a clean sheet (including two 0-0)or a 1-1 draw, I thought we might see a lot more low scores as fatigue set in, at least short term,around the New Year games. But, not so much. And these charts suggest low scores are not necessarily in the cards through Jan/Feb, and, perhaps loading an extra 1 or 2 'elite' defensive team players is not really too important. I agree with you that Arsenal should not be considered an 'elite' defensive team, but they have kept 7 clean sheets and it seems to me Koscielny/Mertesacker @ 5.7 might be in the conversation. But Arsenal's Jan/Feb schedule does not look conducive to clean sheets . . .

vanilla said...

more winter wondering:
It could be my imagination, or it could be the shoulda/coulda prism through which I see my starting11 choices every weekend, but it seems to me that although the quantity of clean sheets to go around may be similar to previous years, they are difficult to predict this season.
Is there any easy way to take this analysis, Chris, and scrub against your "gameweek preview" data?
In other words, how many of those clean sheets were Swansea-at-home predictable, and how many were Newcastle 3-0 ManUtd ?

vanilla said...

More examples of what I mean about the scattering distribution of clean sheets.
Clean sheets kept for previous 3 seasons, and season-through-19-games multiplied by two (crude but easy to imagine) ...
ARSENAL: 16, 14, 13, (14)
VILLA: 13, 15, 7, (10)
CHELSEA: 22, 18, 15, (8)
EVERTON: 17, 11, 9, (8)
FULHAM: 15, 12, 14, (14)
LIVERPOOL: 20(!), 17, 14, (14)
MAN.CITY: 10, 11, 18, (14)
MAN.UTD: 24(!), 19, 15, (20)
STOKE: 12, 14, 9, (12)
SUND: 9, 7, 13, (10)
TOTT'HM: 13, 13, 8, (12)

So what I mean is that although some teams are holding the line, nobody is improving by much. A similar amount of clean sheets is being spread much thinner this season, and clean sheet points seem less predictable thanks to a downward trend across all teams (barring United) who have defenders worth owning.
If clean sheet numbers are more or less steady, and Chelsea/Everton clean sheets are what's missing, is Swansea the easy explanation, or is total value of defense diminishing?

(yes, I am bored and at work)

Davefevs said...

Re Chris - last night was one of mixed emotions from a Fantasy and Real Life view:

Real Life - as a Liverpool fan, seeing Man Utd beaten, although flip saw NUFC close ground on LFC.

Fantasy - for every Ba goal / assist or Krul assist I saw Jones losing points. The 3rd goal was worth 1 point net! (maybe 2 if it gained Krul 1 BP)

I also saw my 3 THFC & Everton GW20 strategy put into jeopardy as Gallas and (possibly) Jagielka get injured.

I feel my Fantasy judgement is on a part with Bogdan's judgement of a bouncing ball :-)

Raddz said...

I am thinking of using my wildcard this week and was wondering what people thought of the team i am going to pick and maybe give some input.
My current team is:
Vorm, Given
Assou-Ekkoto, Jones, Enrique, Evans, N Tylor
Silva, Valencia, Bale, Dyer, Tiote
Van Persie, Aderbayor, Morrison

I was thinking of making it into:
Vorm, Hennessey
Assou-Ekkoto, Jones, Enrique, Simpson, N Taylor
Silva, Valencia, Bale, Sessegnon, Dyer
Van Persie, Aderbayor, Sturridge
with 0.3 in the bank

can anyone help me or give some suggestions?
Thanks

stooshermadness said...

Radz - A few thoughts -
Vorm/Hennessey is a good GK combo. Even in situations where both face a tough week, Hennessey gets so many saves he may be worth 3-4 points even when Wolves get shelled. I'm not sure I understand the Assou-Ekkotu love after this DGW and I would dump him out, especially at his price, 5.4. Too expensive for a guy with his limited CS potential ahead. By GW27, Tot will have played @ MNC,LIV,ARS and played MUN at home. I don't see a lot of CS there. You can find a 4.5ish defender (McAuley at WBA is 4.0) likely to get as many points in rotation with your other guys. I also might hedge my bets on the MUN defense over the next 7-8 GWs and go for Evans instead of Jones (saves 2.2M) (and assuming reports are accurate that Evans will be back soon), assuming you have a commitment to MUN defense at all - through GW27 they face ARS, CHE, and TOT away, and have LIV at home. I know MUN have something like 9 CS already but Vidic is not around anymore. So, rather than be frustrated that you have a 6.6 defender not keeping CS, go for Evans. If you are determined to spend ~6.6 on a defender, get Kompany in. You might look at Clichy too, at 5.6. Not completely nailed on but plays most weeks in the meanest defense in the Prem.
The midfield works for me but I might think about using the money I save from downgrading AE and Jones to upgrade Valencia to Nani. Or Dempsey. Fulham schedule gets very good very soon with only a GW24 trip to MNC looking like keeping Dempsey from some good hauls.
Or, I might use the savings to upgrade Adebayor to Aguero; with Bale you've got Tot coverage and Man City's schedule is pretty good for the next 8 or so, from an attacking perspective. Might be worth having both Silva and Aguero. Anyway, just some ideas.

Raddz said...

@ stooshermadness
Thanks for the input.
I am now thinking of downgrading my defence to mostly budget defenders and spending it up front. I am now thinking of making my team:
Vorm, Hennessey
Richards, Evans, N Taylor, Simpson, McAuley
Silva, Valencia, Bale, Sessegnon, Dyer
Van Persie, Aguero, Sturridge
with 0.5 in the bank
Thanks

vanilla said...

What's everyone's take on Thierry Henry ? Seems like he might get a few games: the coach loves him, and a 2month loan deal is a welcome extra-man for rotating players that need a day off. (think of where Everton would be without Landon Donovan right now)
So... at what price will Thierry be worth a look? The man is an offensive force, even at his age.

Raddz said...

@ vanilla
Right now I don't think henry is worth it untill we see what Wenger will do with him as he may be played an the wing in gervinho's position to alow van persie to go up the middle or will he try to pair them or play one as a second striker or just be used off the bench? Also he will be playing for arsenal so he will mostlikely come with a big price tag around 9 mill where there are better strikers around that are proven this season. Like van Persie who if you have you might not want to have Henry as well

CDI said...

Hey Chris, great blog as awlays. Last few weeks has brought me nothing but red arrows and now my team is riddled with injuries I was thinking about taking my Wc early. Old team :

Vorm Ruddy
Jones, Evans, Senderos, BAE, Enrique
Bale, Nani, Silva, Osman, Drenthe
Ade, Ba RVP

New team:
Vorm Sorensen
Enrique, Jones, BAE, Shotton, Kelly
Bale, Nani, Silva, Dempsy, Sessegnon
Adebayor, Yak, RVP

How does the new team look? Views from peole other than Chris are welcome also.

vanilla said...

@Raddz: fair enough, and I figure Henry will be a 8.0-9.0m striker. With Chamakh and Gervinho out, I'll be interested to see how it shakes out.. Arsenal look like they're in a Cubs-season backwater (always rebuilding)
Because of the GW1 transfer/format cock-up at the fantasy site, there are way too many similar teams in my league. Henry is the kind of guy I'd take a flyer on if I needed differentiation and could massage my budget.

@CDI: Mid and forward look very good, but i'll take issue with your defenders:
Kelly (Fulham) only has been playing in games where Chris Baird is missing. He's not injured, but out with personal issues so Kelly would be a gamble. Senderos is only 0.4 more in price and plays more often.
Shotton is a good way into Stoke's defense but they are too spotty for my money. Why not buy into Swansea? Astounding defender value for money.
Sorenson: as stoosher says (above), Wayne Hennessey is a shot-stopper with a defense that actually helps him rack saves up. If you're not getting a clean sheet (AlHabsi, Mignolet, Ruddy) you may as well rack up saves points. Hennessey costs only 0.2 more than Sorenson and has TWENTY EIGHT MORE SAVES than any other goalkeeper out there.

CDI said...

Thanks Vanilla for taking the time to answer. If I wait for ruddy to rise today I'll be able to raise the extra 0.1 to do Kelly > Caulker. The team I posted left me with 0 in the bank so Sorensen is my best options to rotate with Vorm as he has some tricky fixtures soming up.

On another note do you view Aguero as a 'must own' when using your winter WC? The only way to fit him into my wc team would be to do Yak> Aguero, Dempsey > Surman/Gower/Reo-Coker and BAE > McAuley. This seems like too much Crobar work just for one play but I will consider it if his upside really is that high.

vanilla said...

Well maybe I can push you off the fence: why not sell high on Benoit Assou-Ekotto? Historically he doesn't contribute much to offense, and isn't a bonus point superstar either.
I like Spurs defense, too, but there is better value for money at the back; This is another opportunity to jump on the Swansea train if you are using the WC. There are no shortages when it comes to defense value sub-5.4 (BAE's price). Since you like Stoke, why not Shawcross? If anyone's heading in corners from the back line, it's he or Huth.

CDI said...

I actually Cut showross for BAE but I see your point that he might not rep the best PPM for a defender. Huth seems to be nailed on now but what happens when Wilkinson comes back? Will he and Huth have to share mins again? I'm looking to bring in Caulker but don't wanna tripple up on swans as they have tough fixtures coming up. This WC is proving tougher than I thought due to not wanting to produce the same generic team as everyone else. K how would this team look:

Sorensen, Mignolet

Jones, Richards, Shotton, Caulker, McAuley

Dempsey, Nani, Silva, Moses, Bale

Yak, Aguero, RVP

Sorry for asking so much about my team. I appreciate you answering.

vanilla said...

Ruddy's value went up (as you predicted) at some time today, so you can pull off your intended move.
I don't want to steer you too much with your team selection. (if everyone had my team, things would be awful boring)
If you really are set on playing your WC this week, you get extra time to change your mind: all transfers you make until the next GW are free.

vicky said...

wildcarded......team for now is
vorm,stockdale...
vermaelen,richards,kelly,ntaylor,shotton......
sessegnon,bale,silva,dempsey,moses....
rvp,aguero,sturridge........as for gw21 i hv benched vorm,moses,ntaylor,shotton......
any changes needed for wc team and for starting 11 for gw21???
suggestions from anyone would be highly appreciated....
thanks in advance...

vicky said...

and i hv got 0.1 in the bank.........

Mitchell Stirling said...

I am contemplating my wild card for this week, but may hold off for next.

At the moment I am looking to have

Vorm/Stockdale

Kompany / L. Enrique / Evans / McAuley / Caulker

Bale / Silva / Walters / Sessegnon / Moses

Van Persie / Aguero / Adebayor

It would be great it anyone knows whether the two A class + one B class forwards and two A + B midfielders is the best way to go or if downgrading to a bargain forward and getting a Nani in for a B defender or upgrading to another A defender is the way forward.

Ali Dia said...

@ Mitchell Stirling.
I actually prefer not to wildcard this week. Taking into account the upturn in fixtures and the transfer window, you never know what might happen. I understand the thrill of playing the wildcard early like making quick profit @ avoiding price rises. As for your team,
Solid picks mostly but I think you are a bit lightweight in midfield. No attacking Man United coverage also. I will probably downgrade one the forwards (I prefer Aguero & RVP)so that you get Nani. I know he is frustrating at times but he is capable of explosive returns in a matter of few games. You can get a cheap striker like Morison or Yak. Sturridge is also a good pick even though he is more expensive.