Weekend Review 28/02/17

Highlights

Spanish Primera Division
Atletico Madrid 1-2 Barcelona (Sunday 3.15pm)
Our headline game of the weekend started off with such promise for our suggestion, as Atletico came out of the blocks quickly and demonstrated good control of the contest until past the half hour mark. Here fatigue from their midweek excursions in Europe began to play a part, though, as Barcelona wrestled back the ball and were largely the better side until they opened the scoring through Rafinha after the hour. This was the signal for the intensity of the game to climb again quite dramatically, with Godin (who else?) scoring on his return to make it 1-1 before Messi (who else!?) won it for the visitors.

All-in-all Barcelona did enough to deserve the narrow victory, with Atletico running out of steam and failing to capitalise on the momentum generated by their equaliser. This was not Barcelona at their absolute best but they showed a clinical edge when it mattered and belied the negative press to take a pretty enormous win. They sit within just one point of Real now, although Sevilla have recovered form and continue to be a pest even this late in the season. It would still take a brave man to oppose Ronaldo and company, however.

Suggestion: Atletico Madrid +0.25 @ 1.82
Actual Outcome: 1-2 (-1)
Fair Outcome: 1-2 (-1) 

Italian Serie A
Internazionale 1-3 Roma (Sunday 7.45pm)
Roma cemented their status in the top three with a completely deserved win over Inter, although the final score of 1-3 was a little bit on the flattering side and callously gave us a double loss. This was a game decided by the early goal from Nainggolan, which came after 12 minutes. From that moment things looked pretty bleak, with recent Serie A statistics showing that when a home team goes 0-1 down in the twenty minute time band there is only around a 40% chance of the game going 1-1 and only around a 35% chance of it staying under 2.5 goals (many thanks to SOTDOC for the numbers!)

In the end this one fell into the ~40% of games that end up with over 3.5 goals, as Icardi gave Inter some brief late hope before Perotti played the role of super sub and sealed the deal from the bench for Roma. Inter deserved nothing but their outside chance of a top three finish lingers on thanks to Napoli’s surprise home loss to Atalanta.

Suggestion: Internazionale DNB @1.87 and Under 3 @ 1.80
Actual Outcome: 1-3 (-2)
Fair Outcome: 1-2 (-1)

French Ligue 1
Olympique Marseille 1-5 PSG (Sunday 8pm)
Interestingly we as a company ended up with a decent position on PSG by the time kick-off arrived and it was known that Sanson was joining Gomis on the sidelines for Marseille. PSG recovering Thiago Silva for definite was also big news, which brought the visitors into play and also removed any temptation we had for an Under 2.75 trade. In the end this turned into a procession, with the early goal from Marquinhos knocking the stuffing out of Marseille.

The attitude of the hosts was very concerning and though they did manage to draw back to 1-4 with twenty minutes left, Matuidi promptly added a fifth for PSG to extinguish any semblance of an insane comeback. These sorts of results are what make PSG so frustrating this season, as they could be racking up huge wins every weekend if they were even half as motivated as they were here.

Suggestion: N/A
Actual Outcome: 1-5 (N/A)
Fair Outcome: 0-3 (N/A) 

Dutch Eredivisie
Feyenoord 2-1 PSV (Sunday 1.30pm)
The narrative is that Feyenoord won this huge game in the Eredivisie by “millimetres” and with thanks to goal line technology, but our Analyst Fair Score believed the hosts to be fully deserving of the 2-1 that effectively removes PSV from the title equation. We thought being able to get Feyenoord at DNB looked like good value and they were never really in a position where the handicap looked in danger, being pegged back to 1-1 after leading early and then grabbing the late winner. This was a typically high quality contest between two of the Netherlands’ very best and with Ajax easily overcoming Heracles it leaves us with a two-horse race for the remainder of the season. Feyenoord haven’t won the league since 1998/99…

Suggestion: Feyenoord DNB @ 1.80
Actual Outcome: 2-1 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 2-1 (+1)

Spanish Primera Division
Villarreal 2-3 Real Madrid (Sunday 7.45pm)
We kept out of this one and given the way it unfolded we didn’t feel at all bad about that decision, with Villarreal getting into a superb position at 2-0 just before the hour and being overcome by Real’s attacking power late on. It is always difficult for teams to withstand such constant attacking threat for an entire game, especially when a team like Real end up with nothing to lose, but there is no way Villarreal deserved to leave empty-handed. On paper they still look unconvincing to us overall, but they keep churning out performances in big domestic games.

Suggestion: N/A
Actual Outcome: 2-3 (N/A)
Fair Outcome: 2-2 (N/A)

Ones to Watch

English Premier League
Leicester City 3-1 Liverpool (Monday 8pm)
The big story here is how Leicester’s players suddenly became committed again once Ranieri was gone, which is something we did not manage to successfully predict, although it seems we weren’t alone in that! Liverpool were terrible and played into Leicester’s hands, meaning we should have stayed out of this.

Suggestion: Liverpool -0.75 @ 1.80
Actual Score: 3-1 (-1)
Fair Score: 3-1 (-1)

English Championship
Leeds United 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday (Saturday 12.30pm)
The home side won a potentially pivotal play-off battle with a controversial goal, with the contest being an extremely tight one played at a frenetic pace and with a lot of tension in the air. Wednesday do consistently poorly in these sorts of circumstances, but they deserved a draw here.

Suggestion: Sheffield Wednesday +0.25 @ 1.82
Actual Outcome: 1-0 (-1)
Fair Outcome: 1-1 (+0.5)

English Championship
Brighton & Hove Albion 3-0 Reading (Saturday 5.30pm)
Hughton’s side look the real deal and prepared perfectly for Tuesday night’s visit of Newcastle by effectively eliminating Reading from the automatic promotion race. The 3-0 score was completely deserved, making them look cheap off a line of -0.75 in front of their own fans, which is usually the case.

Suggestion: Brighton & Hove Albion -0.75 @ 1.91
Actual Outcome: 3-0 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 3-0 (+1)

Italian Serie A
Napoli 0-2 Atalanta (Saturday 5pm)
We thought Napoli’s upcoming semi-final against Juventus would be a distraction, and so it proved. Atalanta have been tremendous lately and while they did not deserve to win they easily deserved to beat the +1 handicap, which did not pay them enough respect pre-match. They remain in contention for Europe.

Suggestion: Atalanta +1 @ 1.92
Actual Outcome: 0-2 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 1-1 (+1)

Turkish Super Lig
Galatasaray 0-1 Besiktas (Monday 5pm)
Another tight game at the top in Turkey ended in a narrow away win for Besiktas, who look sure to be crowned champions now. It took a deflected free kick to take the points and chance creation was largely even throughout, which meant that we probably didn’t deserve a full loss.

Suggestion: Galatasaray +0.25 @ 1.81
Actual Outcome: 0-1 (-1)
Fair Outcome: 0-0 (+0.5) 

9 Suggestions
Total Actual Outcome: -3
Total Fair Outcome: +1

Weekend Preview 24/02/17

Highlights

Spanish Primera Division
Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona (Sunday 3.15pm)
Sky Sports 2
In years past this would have been an enormous occasion at this stage of the season, but neither Atletico nor Barcelona have been at their best in 2016/17 so far. As it is, the game looks more significant for who finishes second rather than who goes on to win the title, but there is still an awful lot at stake. Starting with the team news it appears that both will be nearing full strength, with Godin expected to return to boost Simeone’s men and Oblak also set to reclaim the gloves. Barcelona will welcome back Busquets and Turan, leaving only Mascherano on the sidelines once more.

With not much to separate them there, we turn to the schedule and see that Atletico battled to a 4-2 away win in the Champions League on Tuesday while Barcelona enjoyed a free week, which is a clear edge to the visitors. However, what diminishes this almost completely is the negative atmosphere around the Catalans after the 4-0 defeat to PSG ten days ago. The 2-1 win over Leganes that followed was hardly convincing and we tend to believe these two are on opposing trajectories at the moment, hence we’ll go for the hosts.

Suggestion: Atletico Madrid +0.25 @ 1.82

Italian Serie A
Internazionale vs. Roma (Sunday 7.45pm)
BT Sport 1
It was agony to decide between this game and the Atletico one for our major highlight, as since Pioli arrived at Inter they have become serious contenders for a top three spot. Roma are firmly in their crosshairs but have found form again lately, largely thanks to the return of Salah from injury, which sets this up to be a fantastic encounter. Inter’s upturn has seen them winning five in a row at home lately and four out of the last five overall, while Roma’s away record is not quite so sparkling.

In addition to this Spalletti’s side had to contend with a dead rubber Europa League match with Villarreal on Thursday evening, but they edge the team news with Rudiger returning and Manolas being the only doubt. Inter have captain and top scorer Icardi back for a major attacking boost, but Brozovic still looks unlikely and key centre-back Miranda is suspended. We expect that both sides will show a lot of respect for one another, but feel that the home side can snatch it.

Suggestion: Internazionale DNB @1.87 and Under 3 @ 1.80

French Ligue 1
Olympique Marseille vs. PSG (Sunday 8pm)
BT Sport 2
The big shame here is that Gomis is still missing for the hosts, with the former Swansea man an absolutely integral part of their attack this season. Other than that Marseille are at full strength with Sakai and Fanni returning to boost the defence, while PSG are also nearing full capacity with Thiago Silva looking more likely to start than not, Kurzawa definitely returning and Di Maria also in serious contention as well.

Emery’s side missed a huge opportunity to narrow the gap to Monaco when only drawing 0-0 with Toulouse last time and they should have benefited from having a free midweek. In addition to this they have the advantage of a cup game with Niort on Wednesday night, while Marseille face a much stiffer test when Monaco come to town. All of this adds up, but probably not enough to see PSG at -0.75. Under 2.75 is tempting.

Suggestion: N/A

Dutch Eredivisie
Feyenoord vs. PSV (Sunday 1.30pm)
Sky Sports 5
You need only look at the league table to see what a huge game this is for the Eredivisie, especially at this late stage of the campaign. Feyenoord lead the table by five points and could eliminate PSV from the title race with victory, while PSV could blow the whole thing wide open if they could escape from De Kuip with all three points. Ajax are in between the two and should beat Heracles at home on Sunday in the game that immediately follows this one, which means a PSV win is definitely the most interesting outcome. Both sides have won five in a row, while a draw suits the hosts more than the visitors but is not ideal for either. We like the leaders.

Suggestion: Feyenoord DNB @ 1.80 

Spanish Primera Division
Villarreal vs. Real Madrid (Sunday 7.45pm)
Sky Sports 1
Leaders Real need to dust themselves down after a surprise loss in Valencia midweek and that performance could lead Zidane to turn to Bale for a start, with Villarreal typically very difficult opponents. The hosts only have a concern over Sansone and are otherwise at full strength, as they played a heavily rotated team in the 0-1 win in Rome on Thursday. They’re in the rare position of only having the league to focus on at this stage of the season, so will be fully motivated. This one seems to hinge on the first goal, which means we’ll duck it.

Suggestion: N/A

Ones to Watch

English Premier League
Leicester City vs. Liverpool (Monday 8pm)
Sky Sports 1
Leicester are once again the story of the football world with the decision to sack Claudio Ranieri being met with a mixture of anger and acceptance. They probably won’t have a new manager in place in time for Liverpool’s visit, which means you have to fancy Klopp’s men to win.

Suggestion: Liverpool -0.75 @ 1.80

English Championship
Leeds United vs. Sheffield Wednesday (Saturday 12.30pm)
Sky Sports 1
Realistically neither of these sides are in contention for an automatic promotion spot, but this contest does have some serious implications for the play-off situation with Leeds fifth and Wednesday sixth. The market has Leeds as minor favourites, but this looks like it should be a DNB line to us.

Suggestion: Sheffield Wednesday +0.25 @ 1.82

English Championship
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Reading (Saturday 5.30pm)
Sky Sports 1
Another huge game from England’s second flight sees title challengers Brighton looking to cut Reading out of the automatic promotion race altogether. The visitors have just lost a crucial promotion battle at Huddersfield on Tuesday evening and may be a little jaded after that, which plays nicely into Brighton’s hands.

Suggestion: Brighton & Hove Albion -0.75 @ 1.91

Italian Serie A
Napoli vs. Atalanta (Saturday 5pm)
Bet365
Serie A just keeps throwing them up at the moment and this one is second against fifth, with both teams being unbeaten in their last five. What makes it even more interesting is that both are full strength and Napoli have a Coppa Italia semi-final with Juventus coming up fast.

Suggestion: Atalanta +1 @ 1.92 

Turkish Super Lig
Galatasaray vs. Besiktas (Monday 5pm)
Bet365
Third host top in Turkey in a game with a rather strange start time and while we would have found it difficult to give the home side a chance before the manager change, they may have some added impetus here. Team news favours Besiktas but the schedule massively benefits Galatasaray.

Suggestion: Galatasaray +0.25 @ 1.81

*Odds accurate at time of writing

Who scores next? Goal Ratios and xGoals in the English Premier League

Alongside the EFL cup final on Saturday, the Premier League returns after a break for the FA cup last weekend. For this round of matches, I’m going to be exploring the likely game state paths that a selection of this weekend’s fixtures could take based on scoring performances. To do this, I’ve again queried our database for all English Premier League data from the start of this season to the 22nd of February 2017. Using StrataData, I’ve calculated how frequently each team score the next goal in a given game state, as well as their expected goals (xGoals) in a given game state.

Game State (GS) simply refers to the difference of goals between two teams. For instance, if a team is up by 1 goal, then they are in a +1 GS, whilst the losing team will be in a -1 GS. If a team is up by 2 goals, then they are in +2 GS, whilst the losing team are in -2 GS (and so on). At kick-off, the GS is always 0 (as no team has yet scored), but if it is a score draw (e.g. 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 etc.), then the GS is 0+ (indicating a difference of 0 goals when there have been goals scored by both teams.)

With this in mind, we’ve calculated each team’s goal ratio, which is the number of goals scored / (goals scored + goals conceded) whilst in each game state. The bigger the percentage, the better the goal scoring performance. For instance, Chelsea have a goal ratio of 83% from the 12 instances that they’ve been in a 0-0 game state. This is calculated by counting the number of times they’ve scored first (10) from a total of 12 that they’ve been involved in (10/12 = 0.83). If they had only scored the first goal 3 times out of the 12 they’ve been involved in, their goal ratio would be 3/12 (or 25%.) This can be further explained using a smaller sample – Chelsea’s last 5 home games at 0-0. Here, Chelsea have scored the first goal in all of their last 5 home games*, so their goal ratio is 5 goals scored/5 goals total, which is 100%.

To visualise this, I’ve created some tree diagrams to demonstrate the likely path I think a game will take based on a team’s goal ratio at a given GS. I’ve created branches coming off each GS “node”. The likelihood of a team scoring the next goal based on the current GS is written on the branch, and the outcome is written at the end of the branch. I’ve then extended the tree diagram to further goal possibilities as the match develops. It’s worth noting here that the goal ratios are calculated for each team over the course of the season, and that the outcomes are not interactions between the two playing teams.

Alongside this tree diagram, I’ve created xGoals heat maps coloured green (indicating good performance) to red (indicating poor performance). As this metric is calculated per GS, I’ve calculated xGoals per 90mins based on the time each team has spent in a GS.

So now that we’re up to speed, lets jump straight into a selection of this weekend’s fixtures:

Chelsea vs. Swansea City (Saturday 25th February 2017 @ 3pm)

Chelsea_Swansea_NextGoal-01.png

Chelsea entertain Paul Clement’s Swansea City on Saturday afternoon and our analysis only sees this going one way. At a 0 GS (i.e. 0-0), Chelsea have scored the first goal at home 83% of the time, whereas Swansea have scored the first goal away from home 31% of the time, so Chelsea taking the lead (1-0) would not be at all unprecedented.

When Chelsea have been in a +1 GS at home (14 instances), they’ve gone onto score the next goal 53% of the time, whereas Swansea have only gone onto equalise 14% of the time; so I’m going to back Chelsea to double their advantage here. This is corroborated when we analyse each team’s xGoals; as when in a +2 game state, Chelsea are expected to score 1.36 goals per 90, whilst Swansea are expected to concede 1.72 goals per 90 when they are in a -2 GS.

From the 9 times that Chelsea have been in a +2 game state, they’ve gone on to score the next goal 60% of time, and whilst Swansea have won 3 of their last 5 games, Chelsea going 3 up before the final whistle does not seem to be out of the question. This is further coupled by both teams’ xGoals, as when Chelsea are +3, they’re expected to score 1.71 goals per 90, whilst Swansea are expected to concede 1.52 goals per 90 when they are 3 down away from home. Based on this, I’m going for a comfortable home win for Chelsea.

Final Score: 3-0

Watford vs. West Ham United (Saturday 25th February 2017, 5:30pm)

Watford_WestHam_NextGoal-01.png

This game is tough to call and here’s why; both teams have scored the first goal 42% of the time, and both teams’ xGoals pattern appears to cancel each other out. Looking at the xGoals heat map at the bottom of the graphic, at 0-0, West Ham are expected to concede almost 2 goals per 90 (having spent ~211mins in this game state), but Watford are only expected to score around 0.5 goals. On the flip side, West Ham are expected to score 1.26 goals at 0-0, but Watford are only expected to concede 0.39 goals at home. Given this xGoals balance, I’m going to stick my neck out and go with Watford to strike first.

Now that we’ve banked on Watford to score first, the rather diminished goal ratio for both teams (36% vs. 30%) makes me wonder whether there are going to be any further goals. Turning to the xGoals calculations, Watford are expected to score 0.65 goals when a goal up at home, with West Ham appearing to concede 0.73 goals. On the flip side, when West Ham are a goal down, they are expected to score 0.81 goals. That, alongside their recent strong scoring form away from home and the knowledge that Watford concede an average of 0.75 goals when they are a goal up, suggests that West Ham will pull a goal back.

In a score draw GS, neither team appears to have a very strong propensity to score the next one (although you could argue with West Ham’s goal ratio). However, turning to their respective xGoals gives us more granularity. Watford are expected to score 1.03 goals per 90 whilst West Ham are expected to concede just over a goal (1.06 goals) per 90. The inverse stats also favour Watford considerably, so I’m going to bank on Watford getting a winner and taking all 3 points.

Final Score: 2-1

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Stoke City (Sunday 26th February 2017, 1:30pm)

Spurs_Stoke_NextGoal-01.png

Tottenham currently sit in third place and will be hoping to continue their strong form when Stoke City visit North London on Sunday afternoon. I’ve backed Tottenham to take the lead here, as they’ve scored the first goal of the game 75% of the time playing at home. They are also expected to score 1.18 goals per 90 min in a 0 GS, whilst Stoke are expected to concede 1.30 goals per 90 in 0 GS.

Both teams will feel in familiar territory in the ±1 GS, as both teams have occupied this space 11 times this season respectively, and both have scored the next goal 45% of the time. Tottenham’s goal scoring strength is inferred by their 1.18 expected goals when one up, whilst Stoke are expected to conceded 0.74 goals when one down. On the flip side, Stoke are expected to score 0.81 goals when in a -1 GS, but Tottenham are only expected to concede just over a half a goal (0.62) when they are 1 up. This, coupled with Tottenham’s home advantage makes me think they will have enough to double their lead.

At a -2 GS, I’m giving Stoke no chance of scoring a goal. From the 4 times they’ve been in a -2 GS, they’ve never scored next. Furthermore, they are only expected to score 0.15 goals in this GS, and Tottenham are only expected to concede 0.35 goals when they’re 2 goals to the good. Having said that, I’m banking on Stoke to keep their xGoals conceded below 1, so I’ll settle on this as the final score!

Final Score: 2-0

Leicester City vs. Liverpool (Monday 27th February 2017, 8:00pm)

Leicester_Liverpool_NextGoal-01.png

Champions Leicester City will host Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Monday evening and will be hoping to win 3 points to push them away from the relegation zone. I’m not sure whether Ranieri’s departure will have any instant impact against Liverpool so putting the psychology aspect aside, let’s explore the numbers. Liverpool have been in a 0-0 GS 13 times this season so far, and have scored the first goal 62% of the time. Comparing this with Leicester’s 42% goal ratio from their 12 instances in a 0-0 GS, I’m going to go with Liverpool to take an away lead. Liverpool’s xGoals corroborates this, as they’re expected to score 1.30 goals whilst in the 0-0 GS.

Liverpool are most familiar with being a goal up this season, as they’ve been in this game state 14 times already. From these 14 instances, they’ve managed to score the next goal 35% of the time. Leicester on the other hand have been a goal down 7 times at home this season, scoring the next goal 38% of the time. Whilst I appreciate that Liverpool have maintained a goal ratio similar to Leicester’s even after being in +1 game state significantly more frequently, I’m going to explore the xGoals table to help us decide the next scoring team. Leicester have spent approximately 149 minutes in a -1 GS this season, so are expected to score 2.29 goals per 90 when in down 1. This, coupled with Liverpool’s propensity to concede (xGoals = 1.43 when in +1 GS) suggests that Leicester City may pull a goal back.

In this “goal draw” GS, I can only see Liverpool going on to score next. Leicester have been in this GS 3 times this season and have never scored the next goal, whilst Liverpool have a goal ratio of 56%. Furthermore, in the short time that Liverpool have ‘lived’ in this GS (~154mins), their xGoals is 2.38 per 90mins. That attacking dominance from Klopp’s men makes me believe that Liverpool will snatch the win.

Final Score: 1-2 

Conclusions

In this analysis, we’ve combined two metrics, namely goal ratio when scoring the next goal and xGoals to help predict the likely paths a selection of games will take in this Premier League round. We believe Chelsea will have a comfortable time hosting Swansea, and whilst Watford vs. West Ham appears to be a more difficult tie to predict, I believe Watford will have the slight edge. I’m hoping Tottenham’s Europa League fixture on Thursday doesn’t affect the statistics too much, as I’ve predicted their strong domestic run to continue against Stoke. Leicester on the other may have parted company with their league-winning manager, but I don’t think this will change Liverpool taking all 3 points at the King Power.

Until next time,

Sagar Jilka (@DrSagarJilka)

* Here are Chelsea’s last five home games to breakdown the example:

4th Feb 2017: Chelsea vs. Arsenal, Marcos Alonso scored the first goal of the game (13’)

22nd Jan 2017: Chelsea vs. Hull City, Diego Costa scored the first goal of the game (45’)

31st December 2016: Chelsea vs. Stoke City, Gary Cahill scored the first goal of the game (34’)

26th December 2016: Chelsea vs. Bournemouth, Pedro scored the first goal of the game (24’)

11th December 2016: Chelsea vs. West Brom, Diego scored the first (and only) goal of the game (76’)

Weekend Review 21/02/17

Highlights

Spanish Primera Division
Real Sociedad 0-1 Villarreal (Sunday 11am)
In what was a weekend of 1-0s for our Weekend Preview, it’s quite fitting that we begin with Villarreal’s last minute win in Sociedad. The visitors looked to be in a very bad spot psychologically before this encounter, but again produced a resilient away display that limited their opponents to having just a pair of high quality scoring opportunities. Willian Jose was missed a fair bit more than we expected, with Juanmi really struggling to fill his boots, and in the end our suggestion of a Sociedad win was the least fitting outcome to the contest.

This is not a game that will go down in the annals and was probably a poor choice for the number on highlight of a relatively low quality weekend of action around Europe, but Villarreal greatly enhanced their European claims and showed a superb mentality to bounce back from their humbling loss to Roma on Thursday. Despite making just ten key entries in the game they fashioned three Great Chances, showing excellent attacking efficiency and continually frustrating Sociedad’s weakened attack. The hosts ended up with two “0” rated players on the pitch, showing that depth could be an issue for them during the run-in.

Suggestion: Real Sociedad -0.5 @ 1.94
Actual Outcome: 0-1 (-1)
Fair Outcome: 1-2 (-1)

Italian Serie A
Milan 2-1 Fiorentina (Sunday 7.45pm)
We billed this one as being a floundering Milan hosting an inconsistent Fiorentina and it was the hosts who came out on top, though our Analyst Fair Score believed 1-1 to be a more accurate outcome based on the events of the contest. Both teams benefited from some poor officiating in the first half, with Milan’s opener coming about after a softly awarded free kick and with some question marks over Bacca being offside, while Fiorentina’s equaliser was definitely offside and the goal should not have stood.

These decisions were largely to thank for us ending up with a 0 return here thanks to winning the Over 2.5 suggestion and losing the Fiorentina +0.25 one, though ultimately we deserved to take a -0.5 on a 1-1. After restoring their narrow advantage Milan saw things out relatively comfortably as the away team ran out of ideas, missing their solitary Great Chance of the second half before the hour and never creating anything better than a “Fairly Good” thereafter. The trick here was to avoid the handicap.

Suggestion: Fiorentina +0.25 @ 2.04 and Over 2.5 @ 1.86
Actual Outcome: 2-1 (0)
Fair Outcome: 1-1 (-0.5)

German Bundesliga 1
Hertha BSC 1-1 Bayern Munchen (Saturday 2.30pm)
The hosts belied their recent wobble in form to produce an excellent team performance that came so close to snatching all three points, substitute Lewandowski breaking their hearts with an equaliser from the last kick of the game. We had backed Bayern to continue the momentum from the demolition of Arsenal in the Champions League here but were caught out by their minor rotation, not liking the -1 nearly as much when we saw their number nine named on the bench.

Before the weekend Lewandowski had scored 42% of their goals on the road, had 47% of their significant chances and had made 16% of assists. Even for a club with as deep a squad as Bayern it is almost impossible to effectively replace someone with this kind of output, which we saw clearly on Saturday afternoon. Interestingly the market barely priced it, with Bayern -1 continually hovering around 1.78.

Suggestion: Bayern Munchen -1 @ 1.78
Actual Outcome: 1-1 (-1)
Fair Outcome: 1-1 (-1)

Portuguese Primeira Liga
Sporting Braga 0-1 Benfica (Sunday 8.15pm)
We signed off the Weekend Preview analysis of this game by advising the bolder amongst you to go for the Under 2.5s in addition to the handicap, which was sound advice and actually proved to be the best bet to take when looking at both the Actual Outcome and Fair Outcome together. In actuality it seems that we got a little bit fortunate to take the win on the handicap, but an unders bet would have paid out deservedly. Benfica won it late with another crucial goal from Mitroglou and continue their charge to the title, while Braga continue to post heartening displays despite terrible team news. They deserved more here and should have enough to hold on to their customary fourth place this season.

Suggestion: Benfica -0.5 @ 1.75
Actual Outcome: 0-1 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 1-1 (-1)

Ones to Watch

English Championship
Newcastle United 2-0 Aston Villa (Monday 8pm)
The Juventus of the Championship did it again last night, producing another result out of a performance that could be described as being “measured” at best, and “awful” at worst. 2-0 flattered them a little, with Villa doing a great job of disrupting their play before conceding a sloppy opener.

Suggestion: Newcastle United -0.75 @ 1.84
Actual Outcome: 2-0 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 1-0 (+0.5)

Netherlands Eredivisie
Vitesse 0-1 Ajax (Sunday 1.30pm)
A Klaassen-inspired Ajax were fully deserving of a narrow victory here, with the midfielder scoring, seeing a penalty saved and crucially clearing a van Wolfswinkel header off the line just before half time. -0.5 on the visitors always looked a bit on the small side, but Vitesse worked them hard.

Suggestion: Ajax -0.5 @ 1.75
Actual Outcome: 0-1 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 1-2 (+1)

Netherlands Eredivisie
Twente 1-0 Heerenveen (Saturday 5.30pm)
We ended up being off the mark with this, but it was a game with enough chances to have had a couple more goals. In the end our Analyst Fair Score of 1-2 reflects the fact that Heerenveen had enough opportunities to have won and Twente’s penalty was incorrectly awarded.

Suggestion: Over 2.75 @ 1.89
Actual Outcome: 1-0 (-1)
Fair Outcome: 1-2 (+0.5)

Greek Super League
AEK Athens 1-0 Olympiakos (Sunday 5.30pm)
This one always looked like being a big ask for Olympiakos, sandwiched between a pair of Europa League ties. In a very tense derby affair between two sides desperate not to give anything away we saw an enormous 12 cards but the solitary and deserved goal fell to AEK.

Suggestion: AEK Athens DNB @ 1.88
Actual Outcome: 1-0 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 1-0 (+1) 

9 Suggestions
Total Actual Outcome: +1
Total Fair Outcome: -0.5

Weekend Preview 17/02/17

Highlights

Spanish Primera Division
Real Sociedad vs. Villarreal (Sunday 11am)
Sky Sports 2
On a weekend with no Premier League action and a lack of real marquee clashes around Europe, our attention turns to Spain for the most interesting contest. Sociedad host Villarreal on Sunday morning with both teams still in the argument for a surprise Champions League spot, given Atletico’s continuing struggles for form and the possibility of Sevilla falling away after such a strong start to the campaign. At the current time the hosts seem in a much better place than their visitors, although the loss of starting striker Willian Jose to a season-ending injury is obviously not ideal.

In a game between two direct rivals for a European spot it is somewhat ironic that Villarreal’s mood will be low after a crushing 0-4 home loss to Roma in the first leg of their Europa League tie. Being almost certainly out of the competition there should be no real rotation here, meaning Soriano is the only new absence. All-in-all the real test for the visitors here is a psychological one and while they will come out looking to repeat the sort of performance that gave them a 0-0 draw at Sevilla recently, Sociedad should be smelling blood and motivated to win.

Suggestion: Real Sociedad -0.5 @ 1.94

Italian Serie A
Milan vs. Fiorentina (Sunday 7.45pm)
BT Sport 2
Another great game from Serie A is coming our way on Sunday, as floundering Milan host the inconsistent Fiorentina. The hosts are sitting seventh despite a run of form that has seen them win just one of the last five, while Fiorentina are eighth and have taken ten points in that time but have been overachieving versus the Analyst Fair Score. Ultimately this is a battle between two sides that still harbour ambitions of finishing in the European places, though the contest comes between Europa League ties for the visitors.

This is a nice little advantage to Milan, but they are worse off in terms of team news as Romagnoli, Bonaventura, De Sciglio and Montolivo all remain absent. Paletta and Kucka are back to boost defence and midfield, however, while Fiorentina are not totally unscathed themselves due to Bernardeschi’s absence through suspension. This looks incredibly close on paper and we have a liking for the visitors on a plus handicap and the goals, mainly due to Fiorentina going over 83% of the time when away.

Suggestion: Fiorentina +0.25 @ 2.04 and Over 2.5 @ 1.86

German Bundesliga 1
Hertha BSC vs. Bayern Munchen (Saturday 2.30pm)
Bet365
Hertha’s form has started to stutter of late, with their early season promise giving way to something more like what was expected of them ahead of the campaign. Their 2017 schedule has been tough so far, with this game being no exception, as Bayern come in on a real high after demolishing Arsenal in the Champions League. Hertha remain without Weiser, who continues to be missed, while Bayern are still minus Boateng and Ribery.

Although this is a tough trip for Ancelotti’s men they still look attractive at -1 when considering Hertha’s recent run, plus the fact that Bayern have scored in nine of ten away games, winning eight, and are on a run of five in a row. There is no doubt that Dardai’s side are better in Berlin than on the road, but their best chance here looks to be to keep it tight and not risk much.

Suggestion: Bayern Munchen -1 @ 1.78

Portuguese Primeira Liga
Sporting Braga vs. Benfica (Sunday 8.15pm)
BT Sport 3
Our last highlighted stop sees leaders Benfica heading to fourth-placed Braga, with the visitors in great spirits after an excellent 1-0 home win over Dortmund in the first league of their R16 Champions League tie. This is always a very tough place to come but Braga have been limping through the last few months with terrible team news and have begun to find it hard to grind out wins.

Benfica are without key striker Jonas but should still have enough to get the win here, and while under 2.5 is tempting due to the expected defensive approach of the hosts and Benfica’s lack of desire to win by racking up the goals, we can’t quite bring ourselves to suggest it. Feel free to brave it…

Suggestion: Benfica -0.5 @ 1.75

Ones to Watch

English Championship
Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa (Monday 8pm)
Sky Sports 1
Many would have expected this to be a key battle between two automatic promotion contenders at this time of the season. However, Villa have floundered and are back to struggling again following the initial honeymoon under Bruce. They will make it tough, but Newcastle should win it with Gayle back.

Suggestion: Newcastle United -0.75 @ 1.84

Netherlands Eredivisie
Vitesse vs. Ajax (Sunday 1.30pm)
Sky Sports Red Button
Ajax have won their last five matches but this looks a tricky trip, despite the fact that Vitesse could be missing three of their regular back four. Ajax have concerns over Veltman and Sinkgraven, meaning they could have defensive issues of their own, but they look attractive at -0.5 here.

Suggestion: Ajax -0.5 @ 1.75

Netherlands Eredivisie
Twente vs. Heerenveen (Saturday 5.30pm)
Bet365
This should be a very close battle between two evenly matched teams in the Netherlands, with neither having ideal team news. Twente have lost Assaidi and Heerenveen are without St. Juste and Bijker in addition to Schaars, significantly weakening the defence, although Larsson returns to greatly enhance their attacking power.

Suggestion: Over 2.75 @ 1.89

Greek Super League
AEK Athens vs. Olympiakos (Sunday 5.30pm)
Bet365
This looks like a good time for AEK to host rivals Olympiakos, who are in between Europa League ties and have a number of starters side-lined through injury and suspension. AEK themselves still look to be without Galo, Chygrynskiy and Almeida, so do not have it all their own way.

Suggestion: AEK Athens DNB @ 1.88

*Odds accurate at time of writing

Weekend Review 14/02/17

Highlights 

English Premier League
Liverpool 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur (Saturday 5.30pm)
Having gotten away with a relatively terrible Tottenham suggestion at the Etihad Stadium recently, we got burned this time as Mauricio Pochettino’s men turned in the same sort of absent-minded performance but were not capable of mounting an undeserved comeback. Liverpool were in no mood to pass up the opportunity in the same way as Manchester City did and blew away all doubts about their ability to function as cohesive unit, though the restoration of their absolute best front six and the demotion of Can to the bench played a huge part.

After Mane’s two-goal blast within three minutes we looked almost certain of at least making .01 from our double suggestion, but the third goal never came and Son’s miss relatively soon after proved to be pivotal. The longer things went on the more the 2-0 became entrenched, as Tottenham’s belief ebbed away and further quality chances failed to materialise. Despite the pain of a fully deserved -2 here, we appreciated the performance that Liverpool put in and the result has set up a fascinating end to the season. Chelsea will win the league without question, but the battle for the Champions League spots should be the best ever.

Suggestion: Tottenham Hotspur +0.5 @ 1.77 and Over 2.5 @ 2.01
Actual Outcome: 2-0 (-2)
Fair Outcome: 2-0 (-2)

Italian Serie A
Lazio 1-1 Milan (Monday 7.45pm)
In our preview for this one we noted that Milan conceded 22 chances to Bologna… they went one better than that this time, conceding 23 to Lazio but still somehow escaping with a 1-1. The home side were guilty of extreme wastefulness throughout the match, and if they had added to Biglia’s penalty opener on the stroke of half time then the result would not have been in doubt. As it was Milan hung in and hung in before equalising late through Suso, being rewarded for their persistence.

Even at 1-1 with 85 minutes on the clock we had some hope of getting a win here, but no more significant chances came and we were left licking our wounds and feeling hard done by. Having nailed all six of the StrataBet Premium Recommendations on Atalanta, Roma, Torino, Juventus and Inter over the course of Saturday and Sunday this one would have been the cherry on top of a superb Serie A weekend of trading for us and our customers, but ultimately it wasn’t to be.

Suggestion: Over 2.5 @ 1.90
Actual Outcome: 1-1 (-1)
Fair Outcome: 2-1 (+1)

English Premier League
Swansea City 2-0 Leicester City (Sunday 4pm)
After a horrendous summer, Swansea have clearly made amends with some excellent business in January, not least with the acquisition of Paul Clement from Bayern Munich. The new manager has made a huge difference at the Liberty Stadium, but a special nod to Tom Carroll here, who has been superb since signing from Spurs. An archetypal “Swansea signing”, the little midfielder has provided Sigurdsson with some much needed creative support and the team are flourishing.

In the end this was one of those games where we regretted our cautious stance on the DNB suggestion, because after Mawson’s great opener things never looked to be in much doubt, but we were delighted to have steered clear of trading on the Total Goals line of 2.25. These two teams are on completely opposite trajectories at the moment, but we still don’t see Claudio Ranieri’s men playing in the English Championship next season.

Suggestion: Swansea DNB @ 1.75
Actual Outcome: 2-0 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 1-0 (+1) 

Netherlands Eredivisie
PSV 3-0 Utrecht (Sunday 3.45pm)
So that was why PSV were -1.75 at home to Utrecht! We could stop there, but we’re going to put up a case for the defence, which includes Utrecht’s starting midfielders Brama and Amrabat being ruled out through illness after we submitted the Weekend Preview. In addition to this Utrecht saw a perfectly good goal disallowed in the 21st minute, Barazite being a couple of yards onside when the pass was played. The worst thing was that terrible decision was the catalyst for the game to burst into life tempo-wise and once PSV had a 2-0 lead by the hour mark we were in big trouble. Typically, a half loss was then turned into a full loss with just 45 seconds of added time remaining.

Suggestion: Utrecht +1.75 @ 1.80
Actual Outcome: 3-0 (-1)
Fair Outcome: 2-0 (-0.5) 

German Bundesliga 1
Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Eintracht Frankfurt (Saturday 2.30pm)
We didn’t believe that Frankfurt had enough goals to win this one due to their team news, but we thought they might have enough about them to frustrate an inconsistent Leverkusen side on their way to an unders outcome. However, Hernandez scored after just five minutes and though it took a further hour for the next goal to come we were always in big trouble after seeing such an early opener for the favourite. Indeed, the fair score had this one at even more of a loss than the actual score, making the unders a very bad play to make.

Suggestion: Under 2.5 @ 1.84
Actual Outcome: 3-0 (-1)
Fair Outcome: 3-1 (-1)

Ones to Watch

English Championship
Rotherham United 1-1 Blackburn Rovers (Saturday 3pm)
Blackburn were relentless in terms of chance creation throughout most of the contest, though Rotherham surprisingly took the lead against the run of play and almost saw it out the whole way. Still, we got away with this one a little bit as the away side probably edged it overall.

Suggestion: Rotherham +0.25 @ 1.83
Actual Outcome: 1-1 (+0.5)
Fair Outcome: 0-1 (-1)

Netherlands Eredivisie
Heerenveen 1-2 AZ (Sunday 1.30pm)
Having gone against AZ in their previous game due to poor team news, this contest saw us take the opposite approach due to Johansson, Haps, Seuntjens and Weghorst all returning. Heerenveen were without the excellent Larsson and captain Schaars, meaning that the line should have been flipped the other way.

Suggestion: AZ +0.25 @ 1.90
Actual Outcome: 1-2 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 1-2 (+1)

Portuguese Primeira Liga
Vitoria Guimaraes 0-2 Porto (Saturday 8.30pm)
Guimaraes had terrible attacking team news ahead of this one, meaning that we saw real value in buying a Porto win for near evens. It took the visitors a while to wrestle control of the contest, but with the hosts toothless a victory never looked to be in much doubt.

Suggestion: Porto -0.75 @ 1.76
Actual Outcome: 0-2 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 0-2 (+1)

Swiss Super League
Luzern 4-1 Young Boys (Sunday 3pm)
Young Boys were unbeaten in their last six away games before this one, leading us to liking them on an underdog handicap. Things were looking so rosy when they took the lead after 12 minutes, but Luzern scored three in eight minutes to take this one away from us quickly.

Suggestion: Young Boys +0.25 @ 1.80
Actual Outcome: 4-1 (-1)
Fair Outcome: 3-1 (-1)

Greek Super League
Xanthi 0-0 PAOK (Sunday 3.15pm)
We thought the market had priced this one pretty accurately on the Asian Handicap, with the -0.5 on PAOK leading to a loss in actuality and a win using fair score. We did well to avoid it in that regard, but there was an unders trade that passed us by.

Suggestion: N/A
Actual Outcome: 0-0 (N/A)
Fair Outcome: 0-1 (N/A)

10 Suggestions
Total Actual Outcome: -2.5
Total Fair Outcome: -0.5

Weekend Preview – 10/02/17

Highlights

English Premier League
Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Saturday 5.30pm)
Tottenham have emerged as most people’s favourites to put up a challenge against Chelsea, but that sort of expectation means they need to be going to places like Anfield looking to win. Only recently they went to Manchester City and escaped with a 2-2 draw after being completely outplayed by Pep Guardiola’s side, and Mauricio Pochettino surely knows that his players cannot have such an off day here, despite Liverpool’s recent woes. The form of Jurgen Klopp’s men makes this a truly fascinating meeting; with it being a little shocking that Spurs are available at +0.5 for decent odds.

Vertonghen and Rose being absent for the visitors is undoubtedly playing a part in that pricing, but Lovren is a major doubt for Liverpool and Lallana has also missed some training this week too. Naturally we’re going to take the visitors at the line suggested, but we’ll also pair it with the goals because it feels like the market is purely pricing this as a “big game” with a relatively and we feel the intent for both is to go for the win. We price this one up as being closer to 3 than 2.5, looking at it from every angle.

Suggestion: Tottenham Hotspur +0.5 @ 1.77 and Over 2.5 @ 2.01

Italian Serie A
Lazio vs. Milan (Monday 7.45pm)
Serie A is at it again this week with another marquee fixture, which sees fourth-place Lazio hosting seventh-placed Milan. We’re a little far away from kick-off to be absolutely certain on all the information around this one, but our current view has Lazio at -0.5 favourites and sees a goal line of 2.75. Looking at the market the pricing is currently on Lazio -0.75 and 2.5, which means that an Overs bet becomes a possibility immediately.

There’s no way we could be tempted to back Milan in a game of this size given their recent form, especially with Lazio coming in off the back of a crazy 2-6 win at Pescara, which saw their forward line returned to full strength for the first time in a while. We think that their firepower will probably be too much for the visitors, but in the circumstances it’s not like Milan can just lie down and accept defeat and it’s not really in their approach to play too cautiously – they conceded 22 chances to Bologna last time out!

Suggestion: Over 2.5 @ 1.90

English Premier League
Swansea City vs. Leicester City (Sunday 4pm)
It’s fair to say that this game being important in the context of the relegation battle is a surprise at this relatively late stage of the season, with Leicester certainly not expected to be back in danger of the drop after their amazing title win. However, if you speculatively backed The Foxes to go down before the big kick-off in August then we doff our caps to you, because we definitely didn’t.

Both teams are effectively at full strength here and Swansea are deserving quarter-goal favourites, while the goal line is pitched at an attractive 1.84 for Over 2.25. We won’t bite at this despite believing both teams will be attempting to win, because Leicester have tightened up lately and Paul Clement seems to be doing serious work on Swansea’s shape. There are probably still enough error prone defenders in this one to make us regret a missed opportunity, however…

Suggestion: Swansea DNB @ 1.75

Netherlands Eredivisie
PSV vs. Utrecht (Sunday 3.45pm)
Can someone explain to us why PSV are almost -2 at home to a Utrecht side who are absolute full strength and haven’t been beaten by more than a one-goal margin all season? Maybe we’ll be made to look foolish by the final score, but it is key to note that PSV have only beaten this handicap twice all term at home (against 15th place Excelsior and 16th place Den Haag). Utrecht are fourth and are unbeaten in their last six on the road since a narrow 3-2 defeat to Ajax. On trends and team news we have to go for the visitors, but we’re hopeful that their finishing is a lot more clinical than it has been lately. Pairing with overs is an option…

Suggestion: Utrecht +1.75 @ 1.80

German Bundesliga 1
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (Saturday 2.30pm)
Leverkusen being below Frankfurt in February is extremely interesting, but the home side are still relatively heavy favourites here. This looks a bit off upon first viewing, but the visitors have lost Hustzi to China in the last week and are still without Fabian. This reduces a lot of their creativity and threat from midfield, which means that they are expected to play more cautiously. We don’t think they have enough goals to win this, but they are capable of frustrating a struggling Leverkusen and could get a 0-0 that sees Schmidt relieved of his responsibilities after the final whistle.

Suggestion: Under 2.5 @ 1.84

Ones to Watch

English Championship
Rotherham United vs. Blackburn Rovers (Saturday 3pm)
Rotherham aren’t down just yet but they need to be winning games like this to have any chance of surviving. Blackburn have been horrendous away from home, but have the better team news, meaning we’re going out on a bit of a limb suggesting the hosts on a plus handicap.

Suggestion: Rotherham +0.25 @ 1.83

Netherlands Eredivisie
Heerenveen vs. AZ (Sunday 1.30pm)
Last weekend we went against AZ based on their team news and this weekend we’re going to do the opposite, because Heerenveen are missing their key winger Larsson. He has been responsible for an enormous third of their home goals AND half of their home assists, making him almost indispensible.

Suggestion: AZ +0.25 @ 1.90

Portuguese Primeira Liga
Vitoria Guimaraes vs. Porto (Saturday 8.30pm)
The moneyline of +1 looks jarring at first sight, but when you delve deeper and see that Guimaraes are without top scorer Marega, key creative force Hernani AND defensive midfield lynchpin Rafael Miranda things start to make more sense. Porto are absolute full strength, so we’re happy to back them.

Suggestion: Porto -0.75 @ 1.76

Swiss Super League
Luzern vs. Young Boys (Sunday 3pm)
Switzerland has thrown up great games all season and tends to be excellent for viewing as a neutral. This contest sees second heading to third and it looks incredibly tough to split them, though Young Boys should be narrow favourites instead of Luzern. They’re unbeaten in their last six away.

Suggestion: Young Boys +0.25 @ 1.80

Greek Super League
Xanthi vs. PAOK (Sunday 3.15pm)
Fourth host third in Greece to round off this Weekend Preview, with PAOK on a five game winning streak away from home to see them as deserving favourites off a -0.5 line. That looks fair enough to us, with the goal line of 2 also offering no leverage at all.

Suggestion: N/A

*Odds accurate at time of writing

Premier League Trends: 2016/17 so far

Given that we’re comfortably past the halfway mark in the Premier League, we thought that it would be a good time to explore the landscape for trends and highlights from the season so far using data from 1st August 2016 to 5th February 2017.

Each game week brings us drama and excitement, which got me thinking about the most exciting round we’ve had so far this season to begin with. To that end, round 17 gave us the most corners (113 versus a mere 74 in game week 21), but it was actually game week 14 that gave us most excitement in terms of goals, with 37 scored, compared to a mere 19 in week 23. The last round of fixtures (24) ranked fourth in the list with 34 goals, which certainly made for more exciting Match of the Day than usual!

That being said, for the remainder of this piece I’m going to take a top-down approach and start by looking at trends within teams, before taking a more granular approach and looking at players:

Key Entries

Key entries form an important part of StrataData and capture instances where the attacking team achieves possession of the ball in the last 18 yards of the pitch. This is broken down into three locations of “box”, “left” and “right”, which indicate where on the pitch the team made the entry. Taking a look at this season’s data (see figure below, top graphic), Liverpool have made the most key entries, with a mammoth 748, followed by Manchester City (733), Manchester United (712), Arsenal (692) and Tottenham Hotspur (677). Whilst the league average is 554, the teams with the fewest entries are Sunderland (450), Hull City (409) and Burnley (405), perhaps unsurprisingly.

Taking a look at the breakdown of where the top five teams make their key entries from (see figure below, bottom graphic), the distribution of location seems relatively even across the board. The top five teams seem to be better at getting in on goal down the middle of the park (“box” – green portion), with Arsenal significantly favouring “box” key entries (46%) over key entries from the “right” (23.7%) or “left” (30.4%). Southampton favour the “left” most, with 35% of their key entries coming down that flank, while Everton appear to be right heavy, with 39.5% of their key entries coming down that side:

figure1-01

Expected Performance

To understand the performance of a team, I’ve calculated the expected number of goals (xGoals) per 90 and the expected number of corners (xCorners) per 90, per team. Using these metrics, I’ve subtracted them from each team’s actual number of goals and corners to give us a performance indicator for goals and corners. For instance, if a team is expected to have scored 40 goals so far this season, but have scored 50, they are over-performing by 10 goals (50 actual goals – 40 xGoals = 10), whereas if a team are expected to have had 150 corners so far this season, but have only managed 100, they are underperforming by 50 (150 actual corners – 100 xCorners = -50). Using this performance metric, we can dive further into the data to rank the teams on these metrics.

In case you’re wondering how we calculate xGoals and xCorners, we’ve previously written a fair few blogs on this, which I’d encourage you to check out.

figure2-01

Focusing on the left graphic above (titled “xGoal Difference”), Chelsea are the most over performing team in front of goal this season. They have scored a total of 51 goals, but have only been expected to score 43.6 given the number and quality of the chances they’ve had. Chelsea are followed by Arsenal with a positive difference of 4.7 (52 actual goals – 47.3 xGoals), but perhaps the most interesting team to see around the top of the table is West Bromwich Albion. They’ve scored 32 goals this season, with an xGoals total of 29.8, giving a positive goal performance indicator of 2.2. The most underperforming teams are as follows:

Southampton (a goal performance indicator of -14.6, with only 23 but 37.6 xGoals)
Manchester United (a goal performance indicator of –11.6, with 36 goals but 47.6 xGoals)
Leicester City (a goal performance indicator of -6.2, with 24 goals but 30.2 xGoals)

The right sided graphic (titled “xCorner Difference”), indicates which teams are getting more corners than expected, given the number of key entries that they have. While Tottenham (“Spurs” in the graphic above) are fourth in the goal performance indicator ranking, their powerful attacking play this season sees them at the summit for obtaining more corners than expected. So far, Tottenham have racked up 170 corners, but have only been expected to win 149 (giving a corner performance indicator of 21). Bournemouth’s attacking impetus is also seeing them win more corners than expected (18.7 more, to be precise), as are Crystal Palace (winning 12 more than expected). The most under-performing teams in terms of winning corners are:

  • West Bromwich Albion (a corner performance indicator of -17.1, winning only 90 corners from an expected 107.1)
  • Sunderland (a corner performance indicator of -14, winning only 85 corners from an expected 99)
  • Chelsea (a corner performance indicator of -13.8, winning 131 corners from an expected 144.8)

Goal Conversion Rates

After Romelu Lukaku’s triumph his weekend, I thought I should take a more granular look at conversion rates by focusing on players. I’ve taken players who have scored eight goals or more this season and plotted them in the graphic below:

figure_player_convrates-01

You may remember from my previous blog, the size of the circle indicates the conversion rate, so the bigger the circle, the better the conversion rate, whereas the smaller the circle, the poorer the conversion rate. Although Olivier Giroud may be at the bottom left of the end of the graphic, this by no means reflects his finishing ability, as this season he’s scored eight goals from 23 chances, giving him the best rate (35%) of the players who have scored more than eight timess this season. Lukaku’s performance over the weekend means he has 16 goals from 53 chances, giving him a conversion rate of 30%, closely followed by Jermain Defoe and Fernando Llorente (29%). The least clinical player of this group is Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, who’s scored eight goals from 62 chances (13%).

Alongside focusing on the top end players, here’s a quick round up of the players with the worst conversion rate to have scored only one goal:

  • Andros Townsend (3%, 1 goal from 33 chances)
  • Odion Ighalo (4%, 1 goal from 28 chances)
  • Harry Arter (4%, 1 goal from 27 chances)
  • Scott Arfield (5%, 1 goal from 21 chances)
  • Charlie Adam (5%, 1 goal from 20 chances)

Top Scorer Stats

The top scorer charts once again changed over the weekend, so I’ve dug into StrataData to unearth the top five goal scorers’ contributions beyond the goals they score. Incidentally, of the 659 goals that have been scored this season (not including own goals), 89 have been scored by the top five (that’s 13.5%!)

topgoalscorer_stats-01

The above figure is sorted in top scorer order, as Lukaku leads the line with 16 goals, followed by Sanchez, Costa and Ibrahimovic each with 15, then Kane and Defoe with 14. However, when normalising for minutes played, Lukaku is overtaken by his fellow number 10** Harry Kane as the League’s most potent goal scorer, having 0.77 goals per game. Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez shows just how important he is to his team, as out of the top six scorers, Sanchez leads the board for the number of chances created per game (1.36), assists per game (0.35) and secondary assists per game (0.09). Zlatan Ibrahimovic unfortunately leads the board only for chances missed per game (missing 1.3 chances per game) and joins Diego Costa for most bookings (5 yellow cards each).

Defensive Mistakes and Interventions

Having focused on the attacking quality in the league, we weren’t going to forget the people who try to stop them. StrataData collects instances where defensive mistakes were made, as well as when key defensive interventions were made. Here I’m going to focus on the top five players from each metric and rank them in order of performance:

figure_mistakes_interventions-01

The graphic above is divided into two parts – the top graphic (in red) shows mistakes made per 90, broken up into major mistakes (those mistakes that lead to a goal) and minor mistakes. The top five is made up of players from two teams – Stoke with three players, and Leicester with two players. Charlie Adam has made the most minor mistakes so far in the League, with 0.64 per game, followed by Leicester’s captain Wes Morgan (0.54). Ryan Shawcross may have made fewer minor mistakes than his Stoke team-mate Adam, but he’s made the most major mistakes per game with 0.14. Bruno Martins Indi and Christian Fuchs make up the top five mistakes list.

The bottom of the two graphics (green) shows the top five players in the league who have made key defensive interventions. Papy Djilobodji has so far made the most interventions, with 0.74 per game, whilst Ryan Shawcross and Wes Morgan may well redeem their mistakes with 0.52 and 0.42 interventions per game. Gareth McAuley and Leicester’s Robert Huth make up the top five with 0.42 and 0.32 interventions per game.

Conclusions

Although I have even barely scratched the surface of the depth of StrataData here, my aim for this post is to show how teams and players have performed so far this season. Chelsea have epitomised the phrase ‘efficiency in front of goal,’ scoring 7.4 more than expected, while Tottenham have had a season to remember, scoring almost two goals and winning 21 corners more than expected. It may be worth keeping this mind the next time you fancy trading corners on a Tottenham, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace or Hull City game! We’ve also seen that the top five clubs are better at attacking down the middle, as inferred from their key entries proportions, but Southampton and Everton in particular tend to favour the flanks more.

In terms of individual performers, Harry Kane provides most potency on a game-by-game basis, whilst Alexis Sanchez’s importance to Arsenal can be of no doubt. Leicester’s woes can partly be summed up by their defensive frailties, with two of the five most error prone players from their team, while Stoke City defence are likely to gift the opposition chances to score too!

Until next time,

Sagar Jilka (@DrSagarJilka)

* Here are some references to xGoals and xCorners:

(1) https://expert.stratabet.com/2016/11/11/who-should-win-the-ballon-dor-part-1/

(2) https://expert.stratabet.com/2016/12/08/going-in-play-part-2-goals-vs-xgoals-per-segment/

(3) https://expert.stratabet.com/2017/01/10/trading-corners-in-the-premier-league/

** Did you know the number 10 shirt is the most influential from an attacking point of view? The number 10 has contributed 15% (97) of the goals this season, compared to number 9’s 11% (71) and the number 7’s 8% (55). In terms of assists, the number 10’s have contributed 10%, compared to the number 11’s 7% (41) and number 7’s 6.4% (37)!

Weekend Review – 07/02/17

Highlights 

English Premier League
Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal (Saturday 12.30pm)
The biggest match of the weekend was also our biggest position, as we got behind Chelsea and goals at low odds, being rewarded handsomely. However, on a suggestion like this it’s always frustrating when the team you back beats the handicap quite so easily on the Actual Score, with the 3-1 win meaning that both the Asian Handicap and Total Goals lines were beaten by 1.75 in the end. This is where our Analyst Fair Score makes things interesting, though, as a more risk-averse approach saw us ending up with a +2, versus what should have been a +0.5 (and a flat 0 if we’d gone more aggressive on -0.5 and 2.5).

Although Arsenal created chances throughout the game and were probably worth their goal in the end, there is no denying that Chelsea were the deserved victors as they took another huge stride towards the title. The market always looked too cautious on them, especially when team news was taken into consideration, and we dare say that they made a lot of people a lot of money this weekend. This got us off to a great start on what would prove to be a great weekend for our suggestions…

Suggestion: Chelsea -0.25 @ 1.70 and Over 2.25 @ 1.71
Actual Outcome: 3-1 (+2)
Fair Outcome: 2-0 (+0.5)

German Bundesliga 1
Borussia Dortmund 1-0 RB Leipzig (Saturday 5.30pm)
Team news probably did for Leipzig here, with five absences come matchday as an illness took out Demme, Sabitzer and top scorer Werner in the end. On the other hand Dortmund were able to name a largely full-strength side and fully deserved to get the win, though their margin of victory probably deserved to be a little bit greater. Despite the news we were hovering around suggesting a +1 on the visitors, which would have been a fortunate push at best and so was probably well avoided.

Aubameyang did the business yet again in front of his own fans, while in the wider view this result will give Dortmund some momentum as they seek to overturn what is now an eight point gap to Leipzig, with 15 games remaining. It’s certainly doable for Tuchel’s team, provided they can find some consistency, with the market currently pricing them at 2.62 to Leipzig’s 1.50 for a top two finish. Draws need to be turned into wins more regularly and they need to hope that Leipzig’s confidence drops.

Suggestion: N/A
Actual Outcome: 1-0 (N/A)
Fair Outcome: 2-0 (N/A)

Italian Serie A
Juventus 1-0 Internazionale (Sunday 7.45pm)
It’s going to be rare that you see us passing up an opportunity to buy a Juventus win for around evens in Serie A, as they remain a class above every other team in the division. However, this was an in-form Internazionale visiting and they really did give the “Old Lady” a stern examination, matching them for chance creation and besting them for Key Entries, though this was driven by the fact they were trailing from half time onwards.

In addition to this the visitors were unlucky not to get a first half penalty, but they began to lose their heads late on with Perisic being deservedly sent off while Juventus held on relatively comfortably. After an early-season wobble they have become extremely adept and seeing games out, which makes them a difficult back on the Overs. We were tempted by Under 2.75, which would have given us a +1.5.

Suggestion: Juventus -0.75 @ 1.83
Actual Outcome: 1-0 (+0.5)
Fair Outcome: 1-1 (-1)

French Ligue 1
Monaco 3-0 Nice (Saturday 4pm)
We fully realise that Monaco and Overs is becoming something of a mantra for us at Stratagem, but it is interesting how our Analyst Fair Scores constantly have them scoring less than they are. This is going to be a feature of a blog on Trading Expert soon, as we investigate what is driving their ultra-efficiency in front of goal. We didn’t really have any doubt in the hosts’ ability to beat this handicap against a relatively poor Nice team and they were extremely comfortable until near the end, with a 2-0 win being a better reflection of proceedings. This means we got a little fortunate to end up with a +1.5, but it’s better to be lucky than it is to be good, right?

Suggestion: Monaco -1 @ 1.98 and Over 2.75 @ 1.84
Actual Outcome: 3-0 (+1.5)
Fair Outcome: 2-0 (0) 

Portuguese Primeira Liga
Porto 2-1 Sporting CP (Saturday 8.30pm)
The home side scored from their first two chances to take a 2-0 lead into half time, having extraordinary efficiency to thank for the victory in the end. Still, Sporting did not make it easy for them and really piled forward after reducing the deficit on the hour, dominating the momentum and creating enough chances to have deserved an equaliser. Ultimately we had steered clear of the -0.5 on Porto and 2.25 Total Goal lines here, with the 2-1 Actual Score and 1-1 Fair Score showing that to be a decent enough shout. Ultimately the visitors were hard done by.

Suggestion: N/A
Actual Outcome: 2-1 (N/A)
Fair Outcome: 1-1 (N/A)

Ones to Watch

English Premier League
Leicester City 0-3 Manchester United (Sunday 4pm)
By the time this one got underway we were firmly behind Manchester United, although after the first 20 minutes it was looking shaky enough to have made us wish we had stuck with our suggestion “no preference”. Still, Mourinho’s men came good in the end and deserved a comfortable win.

Suggestion: N/A
Actual Outcome: 0-3 (N/A)
Fair Outcome: 0-3 (N/A)

Spanish Primera Division
Sevilla 0-0 Villarreal (Sunday 11am)
We thought the line of -0.75 on Sevilla here was fair and preferred instead to rely on Villarreal keeping it tight. In reality they got away with a 0-0, but Sevilla managed to create enough chances to have deserved a couple of goals and Villarreal should have had one themselves.

Suggestion: Under 2.75 @ 1.92
Actual Outcome: 0-0 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 2-1 (-0.5)

Netherlands Eredivisie
AZ 2-4 PSV (Saturday 6.45pm)
We singled this one out as being huge value due to AZ’s negative team news, and so it proved with PSV getting a fully deserved two-goal victory to beat the -0.5 handicap easily. The biggest surprise here was that PSV could still be backed at -0.5 by kick-off time.

Suggestion: PSV -0.5 @ 1.88
Actual Outcome: 2-4 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 1-3 (+1) 

English Championship
Newcastle United 1-0 Derby County (Saturday 3pm)
This was the only one that we got really “wrong” this weekend, with both the Actual Score and the Fair Score resulting in losses for our Over 2.25 suggestion. Newcastle dominated until late without ever creating enough chances, with their big wobble at the end meaning Derby deserved a draw.

Suggestion: Over 2.25 @ 1.89
Actual Outcome: 1-0 (-1)
Fair Outcome: 1-1 (-0.5)

English Championship
Huddersfield Town 2-1 Leeds United (Sunday 12pm)
That’s two huge games and two huge wins for Huddersfield now, who just refuse to drop away from playoff contention. We felt like it was an impossible call and it looked that way until the hosts won it late, though they should really have had it wrapped up by then.

Suggestion: N/A
Actual Outcome: 2-1 (N/A)
Fair Outcome: 3-1 (N/A)

8 Suggestions
Total Actual Outcome: +5
Total Fair Outcome: -0.5

Weekend Preview 03/02/17

Highlights

English Premier League
Chelsea vs. Arsenal (Saturday 12.30pm)
Chelsea passed up a big opportunity to take another huge step towards the title in midweek, with Diego Costa’s late missed penalty at Liverpool meaning they were unable to extend the gap too much back to the chasing pack. With this weekend’s opponents Arsenal losing surprisingly at home to Watford, Spurs drawing at Sunderland and Man Utd dropping points at home to Hull it could have been a supreme round for Antonio Conte, with only Man City looking anything like real challengers. Chelsea are again full strength here and should be hefty favourites based on their recent dominance, with -0.5 seeming a little shy.

Arsenal continue to have problems in midfield and Ramsey is now added to the injury list, but Cazorla continues to be the real miss in the engine room, so we’ll naturally be recommending the hosts in the Asian Handicap market. The Total Goals line looks more reasonably set at 2.5, but Over 2.25 can be bought at 1.71 currently and we like the idea of a combination that will only cost us a solitary unit if we get a “big game” 1-1. At Stamford Bridge we’d be surprised to see Chelsea scoring less than twice, however.

Suggestion: Chelsea -0.25 @ 1.70 and Over 2.25 @ 1.71

German Bundesliga 1
Borussia Dortmund vs. RB Leipzig (Saturday 5.30pm)
After ending Hoffenheim’s superb unbeaten run, Leipzig have a fresh challenge in the face of a trip to Dortmund. This is a huge battle in the race for the “top without Bayern” market and it comes at a perfect juncture in the season, with Leipzig having restarted brilliantly following the winter break and with Dortmund having a stronger squad than at any point previously. Tuchel has no automatic starters missing, while his opposite number is still without Forsberg and Klostermann, in addition to top scorer Werner.

This big edge on team news in addition to home advantage means that the hosts go off at -0.75, with Leipzig available at +1 for 1.77 at the current time. They may have lost 3-0 at Bayern in their last visit to one of the Bundesliga elite, but that still looks a tiny bit on the wide side here. Like our first game we find the Total Goals market pitched more reasonably, if a little on the low side, but team news makes this too volatile for our liking.

Suggestion: N/A

Italian Serie A
Juventus vs. Internazionale (Sunday 7.45pm)
Italy has been throwing up great game after great game for a while now, with this meeting of runaway train Juventus and revitalised Inter sure to provide some excellent viewing. We are big fans of Inter under Pioli and have liked them as an outside bet for top three for a while now, but this looks an enormous task for the visitors despite their excellent team news. Juventus are full strength and any time you can buy a home win for Allegri’s side at near evens we like to get involved.

On recent trends it is also tempting to go for an Under 2.75 bet here as a combination, but Inter games have the tendency to be volatile if there’s a goal before half time and if Juventus come out fully motivated there is no reason to believe that they won’t score before the break. As such, we’ll stay away.

Suggestion: Juventus -0.75 @ 1.83 

French Ligue 1
Monaco vs. Nice (Saturday 4pm)
First meets second in France, with the market correctly pricing Monaco as the true contenders to PSG’s crown with a -1 Asian Handicap line. Nice won their last game against Guingamp 3-1 but certainly didn’t have it their own way, while Monaco got a morale-boosting draw away at the champions when Bernardo Silva struck late. We’re not sure Nice have the mentality in the side to cope under extreme examination, but we would like to see Jardim allow his side more freedom to attack here than he did last week. The visitors can be got at and we’d be surprised to see the hosts getting anything worse than a push on this line. Of course we’ll be combining this with an Overs bet as well.

Suggestion: Monaco -1 @ 1.98 and Over 2.75 @ 1.84

Portuguese Primeira Liga
Porto vs. Sporting CP (Saturday 8.30pm)
Porto are hot on the heels of Benfica, while Sporting are seven points back and fighting to get back into the title race. Both are at full strength, which is always good to see in a game of this magnitude, but it does mean that there is little to pick off in terms of value. -0.5 on Porto is abundantly fair as a line when considering all of the factors, while 2.25 is a little bit low but probably accounts for the similar quality of the teams very nicely. We’d be tempted by Porto and Overs, but won’t suggest it.

Suggestion: N/A

Ones to Watch

English Premier League
Leicester City vs. Manchester United (Sunday 4pm)
United’s 0-0 draw at home to Hull was another example of numerous wasted chances and this continuing trend makes them impossible to like, even when a win can be bought for close to evens. Leicester home are better than Leicester away, of course, but we still can’t trust them either.

Suggestion: N/A

Spanish Primera Division
Sevilla vs. Villarreal (Sunday 11am)
It’s impossible to argue with -0.75 here, but we have a fancy for the Unders due to the fact that both Sevilla and Villarreal have been scoring more than they “should” have been lately. We’re relying on Villarreal to play cautiously, which they have done to good effect at times.

Suggestion: Under 2.75 @ 1.92

Netherlands Eredivisie
AZ vs. PSV (Saturday 6.45pm)
The market does not yet seem to have reacted to AZ’s team news, which sees them again without captain Vlaar, but also missing key left-back Haps and star striker Weghorst. We expect this one to move a fair bit by Saturday evening, so perhaps best to get on it now.

Suggestion: PSV -0.5 @ 1.88

English Championship
Newcastle United vs. Derby County (Saturday 3pm)
A comedy own goal saw Newcastle drop points on Wednesday evening and this game heralds the return of Steve McClaren to St. James’ Park. Derby have improved hugely since he went back after a disastrous time in the North-East and we like the goals here, even with Gayle out again.

Suggestion: Over 2.25 @ 1.89 

English Championship
Huddersfield Town vs. Leeds United (Sunday 12pm)
After disposing of Brighton at home on Thursday, Huddersfield have another huge game in front of their own fans against Leeds. This is fifth hosting fourth and both teams have excellent team news and strong recent form, so it’s impossible to call off standard Championship lines of -0.25 and 2.25.

Suggestion: N/A

*Odds accurate at time of writing