Weekend Preview 29/09/17

Highlights

English Premier League
Chelsea vs Manchester City (Saturday 5:30pm)
BT Sport 1
Chelsea have been quietly going about their business after the surprise opening day defeat to Burnley and sit 3 points behind their top of the table visitors who have won all but one of their games. The away side have been improving all the time and look a real force so far.

Manchester City have been dealt two injury blows this week,  with Sergio Aguero breaking ribs in a car crash, while Mendy is expected to miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury. Both leave them weaker in their respective positions. David Luiz is banned for Chelsea with Christensen likely to step in as a weaker alternative. Chelsea also have a days less rest after their away Champions League tie.

The AH line has been set at Draw No Bet and this is likely to be where the slight edge is with Chelsea. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see this line move with news of Aguero’s injury to -0.25 and Chelsea will be confident of at least avoiding defeat.

Suggestion: Chelsea DNB @ 1.880

Germany Bundesliga

Hertha Berlin vs Bayern Munich (Sunday 2:30pm)
BT Sport 2
German clubs have suffered badly in Europe this week, all 6 sides losing their games including both Hertha (at Ostersunds) and Bayern Munich (at Paris SG) – with the latter costing Carlo Ancelotti his job. It does seem like Ancelotti had lost favour with many Bayern fans and the players, with rumours of unrest rife. Willy Sagnol will give them a boost as Interim Manager.

Hertha have rotated their team in the last couple of games and should be able to welcome back Jarstein, Plattenhardt and Darida but with Ibisevic missing through suspension their attack is weakened. Bayern also have rested players to come back in such as Robben, Ribery, Hummels and Boateng but Neuer is a key absentee with Ulreich looking poor so far.

Hertha are likely to be ultra defensive and may sense some weakness in the Bayern Munich team. The lack of strikers means they are unlikely to be adventurous but with Bayern perhaps feeling that a win by any means will do, this could favour Hertha on the AH line.

Suggestion: Hertha Berlin +1.5 @ 1.862

Italy Serie A
Milan vs Roma (Sunday 5:00pm)
BT Sport 2
In contrast to the German sides, Italian teams fared well in Europe with both these sides picking up wins in midweek. Milan were slightly fortunate to overcome Rijeka at home but Roma should have been more comfortable on their long trip to Azerbaijan to face Qarabag.

Milan rested a few of their bigger players for the Europa League tie so Rodriguez, Biglia and Kalinic should all return and be fresh. Vincenzo Montella is coming under pressure after a couple of poor results with high expectations on the expensively assembled squad. Defeat in this game could leave the door open for Ancelotti to return to the club. Roma have a lack of attacking depth, with a few injuries but their strongest XI is available and they will be confident of counting their good start to the season, unbeaten since the opening day.

Milan have improved since last season but expectation seems to be weighing heavily on them and they have struggled against the better sides. Roma fall into this category and it’s likely had they not had such a long midweek trip they could even have been -0.25 favourites. The Draw No Bet line favours them.

Suggestion: Roma DNB @ 1.980

 

Ones to Watch

Portugal Primeira Liga
Sporting vs Porto (Sunday 7:15pm)
FreeSports
The top two clash in Portugal early in the season with both going very well after 5 games. Sporting lost 1-0 to Barcelona in midweek, limiting their opponents chances but seeing little of the ball. With 1 days less rest compared to Porto – who beat Monaco 3-0 away – this could be a key factor. Both sides have almost their first choice starting XI’s available and with a low goals line appropriately set in what is expected to be a tight clash, it looks like the value again lies on the AH line, with Porto drifting in to Draw No Bet and looking to have some value.

Suggestion: Porto DNB @ 1.990

Belgium First Division A
Anderlecht vs Standard Liege (Sunday 5:00pm)
Not on TV
Both these traditional big Belgian rivals have had terrible starts to the season. Anderlecht have already sacked their manager and defeat to Celtic in the Champions League in midweek has added to the already hostile atmosphere at the club. Standard have been faring even worse, with just 2 wins in 8 league matches this season – though back to back cup and league wins sees a slight improvement. They have some key players out through injury and suspension however and it’s hard to look past a large Anderlecht win, with AH and Goals lines both offering value.

Suggestion: Anderlecht -0.75 @ 1.990 AND Over 2.75 Goals @ 1.900

Dutch Eredivisie
Heerenveen vs Ajax (Sunday 1:30pm)
Sky Sports Mix
Heerenveen have started the season in excellent fashion, currently lying 2nd in the table and having already beaten PSV at home reasonably comfortably. Ajax on the other hand have struggled, exiting the Europa League and failing to beat Den Haag and Vitesse in their last 2 games. With a couple of injury problems as well it is surprising to see the AH line set where it is, with Ajax’s prestige likely to be having a big impact on this and Heerenveen more than capable of getting at least a point. However, there seems to be better value on the Unders line, with only 1 each of both these sides 6 games this season going over 3 goals.

Suggestion: Under 3 Goals @ 1.860

Norway Eliteserien
Rosenborg vs Sarpsborg (Sunday 7:00pm)
Not on TV
While this may seem like a slightly obscure clash, this has actually become a title decider in Norway. Rosenborg lead Sarpsborg by 9 points with 7 games remaining and a victory in this one would all but seal the title. Rosenborg haven’t been that impressive over the season, given their means compared to other sides in the Eliteserien, but they have improved in the past couple of months and were victorious over Vardar in the Europa League in midweek. This is likely to be Sarpsborg’s best ever season and they have a cup final to focus on as well, so they are unlikely to be too disheartened by a defeat while Rosenborg can finally have the motivation to turn in a good performance and show their superiority.

Suggestion: Rosenborg -0.75 @ 1.862

 

*Odds accurate at time of writing

The secret behind Manchester United’s strong finish to Premier League games

After a summer of heavy investment, it is perhaps no surprise to see the two Manchester clubs leading the way at this early point in the Premier League season. Deadlocked on 16 points from a possible 18 and only separated by Man City’s superior goal difference, we could be looking at a very early two horse race for the league title. Chelsea are clinging to their coattails after recovering well from an opening day defeat, but for the purpose of this piece, I wanted to look at the red half of Manchester, and more specifically, an emerging trend that has seen them blitz opponent’s late in matches to run up an inflated score line. Using Stratadata, I will assess whether the results have been just, and what this could mean for the trading markets, specifically Asian Handicap and Over/Under from a dead ball and in-play perspective.

Taking a quick trip down memory lane to this point in the season 12 months ago (6 games), and there is already a noticeable difference in output at both ends of the pitch.

Blog - 2809 - graph5

Spurred on by the goals of Lukaku up front while remaining staunchly organised defensively, there has been clear early improvement across the board for Jose Mourinho’s men. But how have they done it, and is it a sustainable method?

Looking at this season’s data, one thing that immediately jumps off the page is the quality of chances that have been created over the opening six games. Naturally there is a gradual reduction in the number frequency from Poor Chances to Superb Chances, as by definition, the better the chance the harder it is to carve out in the first place, though the rewards are often far greater. However, what is interesting is that the number of Good (22), Very Good (21) and Great (21) chances is very closely bunched, each accounting for roughly 15% of all chances created by the team so far. What this means, is that not only are they creating with reasonable regularity, on average 3.6 Great, Very Good and Good chances apiece per game, but they are also drastically improving their odds of finding the net as a result.

Blog - 2809 - graph2

Looking a little deeper at the numbers, we can not only see that Man Utd are creating chances, but that a lot of their better chances are coming later in matches, correlating nicely with their elevated goal output at these moments. After the 60 minute mark in games so far, Man Utd have fashioned, 11 Great chances, and 12 Very Good chances, a very interesting trend considering that in the opening hour of games they have managed 10 Great chances and 9 Very Good. Could this purely come down to fitness? Or is there more to it?

If we look in terms of game state at this point in matches, it can be argued that Man Utd aren’t doing enough in the first 60 minutes to totally kill off opponents, which leads to more space opening up in the latter stages as an equaliser is chased. They have been ahead of their handicap just twice in their opening six games at this point, suggesting movement on the in-play market could hold some value for the more patient.

Blog - 2809 - graph4

By managing games well defensively and controlling the tempo. Man Utd could be very cleverly waiting for the opportunity to strike and further pad their advantage when opponents press a little higher and commit more bodies forward. It’s well known Mourinho likes his team to be well organised defensively, especially when they are holding onto an advantage. However, when games become stretched, this is where goal efficiency has really improved, with Man Utd showing a lethal touch in front of goal late in games, converting 91.6% of all Great Chances created beyond the 70 minute mark, a remarkably high statistic that they would do very well to sustain throughout the season.

Blog - 2809 - graph1

The use of substitutes has also been a useful tool in Jose Mourinho’s arsenal this season, and it’s noticeable how their goal output rises when fresh legs are introduced from the bench. On average Man Utd’s first substitution has come after 68 minutes this season, while all 10 goals scored in the final 30 minutes of matches have also been netted following the first change, something which could act as a potential trigger point for traders looking at in-play on both Over/Under and Asian Handicap markets, where better opportunities could be available. For those more inclined to make dead ball trades, staying patient with Man Utd and not hitting the exit button early seems a smart move at present, especially if games are close, as they have been in every game so far.

From a trading perspective, the markets have naturally leaned towards Man Utd as favourites in their matches, with all six opponents faced being weaker on paper. However, the highest dead ball handicap that they have faced is -1.5 (on four occasions), with there being understandable wariness about Mourinho’s pleasure at getting the result above a high scoring victory. In their two closest games to date away at Stoke and Southampton, the handicap has been set lower (-1 and -0.75 respectively). Neither are easy places to go, and while they only earned a draw at the former, the Stratadata fair score for that clash was a 2-1 win, which would have at least secured a push on any handicap staking. Indeed, by using Stratabet’s Fair Score model, it reveals that not only have Man Utd been winning games, but they have been doing so on merit, with only matches with Everton and West Ham being closer than the real end score suggests.

Blog - 2809 - graph3

Moving into future matches where opponents will become tougher, they may find it harder to continue their excellent trend of results and late goals, but the defensive resolve that is coming with their attacking output so far should allow them to continue picking up results even when they are stifled in the final third. So far only Stoke have managed to breach the Man Utd defence, with both of those goals coming from a Great Chance, so conversion could perhaps be expected. Total Goals markets have tended to follow a similar pattern to the handicap markets, with the most recent clash against Southampton seeing the lowest set line at 2.25 (much due to Southampton’s abysmal home output), while there has been nothing higher than 2.75 in the dead ball markets across other fixtures. While these lines have ultimately been beaten in 4/6 matches played, the late goals scored have tipped games beyond the natural line where it had previously looked unlikely.

Ultimately it’s likely that opponents will wise up to Man Utd’s late attacking threat and will remain a bit more rigid at the back, so O/U markets may not push into the 3+ range too often pre-match, but it appears at present Man Utd can be relied upon to not only create, but also convert with regularity in the final third of matches, helping them overcome both Handicap lines, and Total Goals Lines for weeks to come.

 

@Payney3

Weekend Review 25/09/17

Highlights

English Premier League
West Ham Utd vs Tottenham (Saturday 12:30pm)
A game that was tight and tense for the opening 30 minutes but exploded into life shortly before half time, bringing with it a glut of goals. Tottenham have looked much better playing away from Wembley and that was the case in this one as Harry Kane struck twice before the break.

West Ham looked to get back into it but struggled and Eriksen finished superbly to put the game Over the goals line before West Ham finally started to trouble the Spurs defence, with 2 goals sandwiched by a red card for Aurier. In truth, it was more due to clinical finishing by Tottenham and West Ham throwing men forward with nothing to lose but once it was 2-0 before the break this one was always likely to finish as Overs.

Suggestion: Under 2.75 Goals @ 2.030
Actual Outcome:  2-3 (Loss)
Fair Outcome: 1-2 (Half Loss)

Spain Primera Liga

Atletico Madrid vs Sevilla (Saturday 12:00pm)
It was rather a surprise how comfortably Atletico won this game. They never really hit top gear against Sevilla, always looking like they had one eye on the Champions League game with Chelsea in midweek but still did enough to easily see off a Sevilla side who were expected to put up more fight.

The 1st half was relatively even but once Carrasco scored in the opening minute of the 2nd half there was only ever going to be one winner. Sevilla pushed forward a little more after this but Atletico defended comfortably and Griezmann eventually scored a 2nd to put the game beyond doubt with the home side then sitting back and taking the sting out of the game to claim the easy victory while expending minimal effort. Sevilla created little of note throughout the game and didn’t deserve to score.

Suggestion: Sevilla +1 @ 1.854
Actual Outcome:  2-0 (Loss)
Fair Outcome: 2-0 (Loss)

Germany Bundesliga
Hoffenheim vs Schalke (Saturday 2:30pm)
While this looks like a comfortable win for Hoffenheim it proved to be anything but. After taking the lead through Geiger on 13 minutes Hoffenheim then sat back and looked to defend and play on the counter attack but Schalke had numerous quality opportunities to score, just not being able to put the ball into the net.

After squandering a host of chances it was the home side who got the crucial 2nd goal as a mistake by Fahrmann allowed Rupp to tap into an empty net and make it 2-0 right at the end. Schalke will consider themselves unlucky not to take at least a draw from the game as Hoffenheim looked to conserve energy for their Europa League tie in midweek.

Suggestion: Schalke +0.25 @ 2.000
Actual Outcome:  2-0 (Loss)
Fair Outcome: 1-1 (Half Win)

 

Ones to Watch

England Championship
Sheffield Wednesday vs Sheffield United (Sunday 1:15pm)
Being a Wednesdayite I’d really rather not talk about this one! The goal after 2 minutes really opened the game up but Sheffield United did enough to beat the goal line comfortably on their own through some truly terrible defending by the home side. While Wednesday fought to get back into the game at 2-2 it was undeserved and took United just 2 minutes to retake the lead and then add to their score through more bad defending. This was the Sheffield derby with the most goals in since 1951, so the high scoring game was a real surprise.

Suggestion: Under 2.25 Goals @ 1.877
Actual Outcome:  2-4 (Loss)
Fair Outcome: 1-2 (Loss)

Scotland Premiership
Rangers vs Celtic (Saturday 12:00pm)
This was a relatively comfortable win for Celtic but it looked like it would be much tighter for long spells of the 1st half, as both teams struggled to create much, wanting to give little away. At the start of the 2nd half Rogic fired Celtic into the lead which forced Rangers to attack for the first time in the match. This was defended adequately by Celtic who then used the spaces to score a 2nd goal and see out the remainder of the game with ease to beat the handicap with little fuss.

Suggestion: Celtic -0.75 @ 2.000
Actual Outcome:  0-2 (Win)
Fair Outcome: 0-2 (Win)

Italy Serie A
Juventus vs Torino (Saturday 7:45pm)
Juventus cruised to a win over local rivals Torino as they continued their perfect start to the season. Goals from Dybala and Pjanjic in the first half were sandwiched by a red card  for Baselli which made it look increasingly like Torino wouldn’t score and it would be down to Juventus alone to beat the goals line. With a midweek Champions League tie it would have been easy for them to sit back and reduce the tempo in the game but first Alex Sandro and then, after a series of misses and heroic saves, Juventus eventually got a 4th in injury time as Dybala struck his second of the game to end with a scoreline reflective of the home sides dominance.

Suggestion: Over 3 goals @ 2.020
Actual Outcome:  4-0 (Win)
Fair Outcome: 4-0 (Win)

Greece Super League
AEK Athens vs Olympiakos (Sunday 6:30pm)
This game turned into an utter disaster for Olympiakos who looked to be heading for a much needed victory for the majority of the game. Goals from Marin in the 1st half and Odjidja-Ofoe early in the 2nd, combined with the generally ultra defensive nature of the Greek league seemed to mean the game should have been done at that point. But Christodoulopoulos scored twice, grabbing an 80th minute equaliser before Mandalos scored on 89 minutes to turn things around and allow AEK to beat the handicap. 2 late red cards had no impact on the game but the loss cost Besnik Hasi his job as Olympiakos manager on Monday morning.

Suggestion: Olympiakos +0.25 @ 1.909
Actual Outcome:  3-2 (Loss)
Fair Outcome: 3-1 (Loss)

 7 Suggestions
Total Actual Outcome: -3
Total Fair Outcome: -1

*Odds accurate at time of writing

 

Top 3 Trading Moves of the Weekend 25/09/17

Highlights

 

Germany Bundesliga
Bayern Munich vs Wolfsburg (Friday 7:30pm)

Bayern were big favourites as expected in this game. After winning 6-0 and 5-0 last season this was anticipated to be another comfortable game with a -2.25 handicap set for the home side. At half time when they were 2-0 up it looked like a case of when not if they would beat the handicap but a lacklustre performance in the 2nd half, combined with some good finishing by Wolfsburg, saw the away side get a well deserved draw. This was a big surprise, especially once Bayern had moved into such a commanding position.

Actual Outcome:  2-2 (-2.25)
Fair Outcome: 1-1 (-2.25)

Italy Serie A
SPAL vs Napoli (Saturday 5:00pm)
Napoli topped the league ahead of this game with a perfect record of 5 wins from 5 games, scoring 19 goals in the process. Newly promoted SPAL have looked a little out of their depth but aren’t in the relegation zone yet, but still a comfortable win was expected for Napoli with a -1.75 handicap. They never pulled away from the visitors, going behind on 13 minutes but levelling almost straight away but once they went ahead on 71 minutes, they were then pegged back just 7 minutes later. It took an 83rd minute goal to seal the win, but it wasn’t enough to beat the handicap.

Actual Outcome:  2-3 (+1.75)
Fair Outcome: 1-3 (+1.75)

 

Spain Primera Division
Malaga vs Athletic Club (Saturday 5:30pm)

An even contest was expected in this one, with a line of Draw No Bet, but Bilbao were soon in control taking the lead from a 4th minute penalty. Malaga equalised before the break but after Kuzmanovic was sent off for the hosts and Inaki Williams scored twice to put Bilbao 3-1 ahead with 10 minutes left the game looked safe. A disastrous last 10 minutes however allowed Malaga to score twice and deny Athletic Club all 3 points and a win on the DNB line – an unexpected turnaround from the home side.

Actual Outcome:  3-3 (0.00)
Fair Outcome: 2-2 (0.00)

Weekend Preview 22/09/17

Highlights

English Premier League
West Ham Utd vs Tottenham (Saturday 12:30pm)
Sky Sports Premier League
Tottenham have had a tough time at Wembley and at the minute have been finding away points easier to come by but coming up against a motivated and improving West Ham side will give them a real test. The edge of a London derby always adds extra incentive for both sides.

Team news is positive for both teams, with West Ham having an almost full strength side available, with Noble struggling to get back into a team that has been performing much better in the last 3 games – though an injury to Obiang means he could be brought back in. Tottenham are also close to full strength with only Wanyama and Rose missing and several managers choice decisions on who to include.

The Asian Handicap line is set relatively high for Tottenham but fair 2 goal wins in their previous 2 away games means this is reasonable. West Ham’s move to a 3-4-2-1 has meant they have been much tougher to break down and it’s here that there may be slight value with both sides keeping back to back clean sheets and likely to be wary of opening up too much.

Suggestion: Under 2.75 Goals @ 2.030

Spain Primera Liga

Atletico Madrid vs Sevilla (Saturday 12:00pm)
Sky Sports Mix
Sevilla have made an excellent start to the season and currently sit in 2nd place, having taken maximum points and kept clean sheets in all but one of their league games this season. Atletico Madrid started a little slower but have improved after a surprise draw with Girona and know a win means they will go above their opponents.

Atletico’s positive news continued this week with the agreement for Diego Costa to return to the club in January. They also have a full strength side available after Filipe Luis recovered from a minor knock and will push to attack and win this game. Sevilla are without Nolito but otherwise have a healthy squad, with Pizarro the other minor doubt but he should be fit and start.

Sevilla know full well a point would be a good result and will aim to keep the game tight for as long as possible. Atletico Madrid are very good at avoiding frustration against defensive opponents and know how to grind out a win but if Sevilla do manage to go ahead it places even more value on getting at least a push on the Asian Handicap line.

Suggestion: Sevilla +1 @ 1.854

Germany Bundesliga
Hoffenheim vs Schalke (Saturday 2:30pm)
Not on TV
Hoffenheim continue to show excellent domestic form despite their early exit from the Champions League and opening Match Round defeat in the Europa League. Beating Bayern Munich just 2 weeks ago shows they are a team to be taken seriously. After a terrible start at the beginning of 2016/17 Schalke have shown considerable improvement over the past 9 months and are likely to challenge for European places again this season.

With Schalke’s busy schedule – they face a trip to Bulgaria in midweek to face Ludogorets – they have used some rotation in the past couple of games. This means a few players have been rested and it’s unlikely they will have a genuine strongest team out. Schalke on the other hand should have almost a full strength side available, with Konoplyanka expected to regain his place after dropping to the bench in midweek.

With European commitments in their mind and the improvement Schalke have made this is not an easy game for Hoffenheim. They have been a little lucky to gain the results they have so far, while Schalke have been good but could have done even better. This will be a tight game and the value appears to be on Schalke to get something from it.

Suggestion: Schalke +0.25 @ 2.000

 

Ones to Watch

England Championship
Sheffield Wednesday vs Sheffield United (Sunday 1:15pm)
Sky Sports Football
After 5 years, the Steel City derby returns with both sides wanting to claim bragging rights. Sheffield United have started well while Sheffield Wednesday have traditionally been slow to start under Carlos Carvalhal. The key factor for this game could be who Sheffield United have available up front as a striker crisis saw Sharp, Donaldson and Clarke join Lavery and Hanson on the sidelines. All 3 will be expected to shake off minor knocks to play in this one, though may not be fully fit. The game will be tight with neither team likely to truly open up and both would accept the narrowest of wins.

Suggestion: Under 2.25 Goals @ 1.877

Scotland Premiership
Rangers vs Celtic (Saturday 12:00pm)
Sky Sports Football
Another huge derby with both sides needing little motivation. Rangers have improved under Pedro Caixinha but will be fully aware they have not beaten Celtic outright since March 2012. Under Brendan Rodgers Celtic are an unstoppable force but will also have one eye on the midweek Champions League tie with Anderlecht, where they need a win to have a good chance of finishing at least 3rd. Both sides have mixed team news and while Celtic are the stronger side there is debate about whether they would settle for a smaller margin of victory in order to conserve energy for midweek.

Suggestion: Celtic -0.75 @ 2.000

Italy Serie A
Juventus vs Torino (Saturday 7:45pm)
BT Sport 3
Our third ‘One to Watch’ derby sees these two rivals from Turin face off against each other. Juventus are the dominant force in Italy, winning all 5 of their matches so far with ease. Torino have also started well, are unbeaten and could make a push for the European spots this season. Both teams rotated for their midweek games and will bring first choice players back in to strengthen their sides and the -1.25 Asian Handicap line on Juventus seems appropriate. Both will want to win this game and while the goals line is quite high, previous games this season suggest that they are both capable of causing problems, with 7 of their 10 games between them having at least 3 goals. If Torino score first it certainly improves the chances of this as Juventus will play to win, so the game should open up.

Suggestion: Over 3 goals @ 2.020

Greece Super League
AEK Athens vs Olympiakos (Sunday 6:30pm)
Not on TV
For the first time in what seems like years, Olympiakos are not favourites for a game. After drawing to unfancied opposition in their last 2 league games and defeat against Sporting in the Champions League they find themselves 2nd in the table with Hasi under immediate threat of the sack if they lose this one. That means they will aim to play a very tight game, as Greek matches usually are, and it’s likely to be a solitary goal that wins it. The pressure is more on AEK Athens and that could suit what is still a very good and underperforming Olympiakos team.

Suggestion: Olympiakos +0.25 @ 1.909

 

*Odds accurate at time of writing

xAssists – a new method for judging a players value to a teams Creation

The recent explosion of data in football has allowed for a greater detail of understanding of several areas. The primary one I’ll be focusing on is the evolution of Assists.

Assists in it’s own right is quite a poor dataset. Whereby Goals at least tell you something of the quality of the player in question, Assists are completely reliant on another player to be registered. Imagine Lionel Messi playing alongside Emile Heskey and laying chances on a plate for him – would he have as many Assists in this case as he does when playing alongside Suarez? It’s likely he wouldn’t.

The evolution of Expected Goals (xG) into the mainstream – even seeing it included on Match of the Day, albeit without any explanation on the show itself – means that Expected Assists (xA) are now a semi-accepted part of Football Data as well.

These are a much better look at how we capture those creative players. If Messi now sets up Heskey and he misses, it matters not, as Messi would get the credit for the expectation of Heskey scoring on a repeatable basis from a similar chance. Likewise, if Messi – great player though he is – is aided by some top notch finishing from Suarez, we’d still be able to see that perhaps he was over performing in this regard, compared to how many Assists we’d expect him to have.

My question is this – are current methods of capturing Expected Assists working as well as they could be? I think the answer is no – and I’ll explain why StrataBet do things differently.

What does StrataBet do differently?

The previous method used in collecting StrataData involves a slightly different way to the norm of logging assists. The objective way of doing this credits only those cases where the player who shoots receives the ball directly from a player on his own team. So a slight deflection? Assist doesn’t count. Great run past 4 players before being tackled with ball rebounding to his own teammate? Assist doesn’t count. While I can see the point behind this, if we’re looking at pure repeatability then surely the player who has created the opportunity to shoot should be given some credit.

It’s clear footballers take notice of their assists – and can often have performance bonuses linked to them – as this article and video showing Cesc Fàbregas having one taken away from him shows.

That is why StrataData focuses on Creation, rather than Assists – so we would reward players for creating opportunities on a repeatable basis rather than just those who make the perfect pass.

So, that means straight away the StrataData model for xA is likely to be different from those using objective data. An Expected Assist could then be calculated as the Assister getting the credit for creating a chance based on the expected conversion rate of the chance created. This can factor in several aspects such as location data, method of creation, player positioning etc. – StrataData uses a subjective rating to roll all this into one, giving an expected goal rating for each chance. We can then calculate the Expected Assist rating based on the number of Chances and their Ratings created by each player.

The Fàbregas example

But we weren’t happy with that. One clear example stuck in my head and it really made me want to look at how Creation was captured. The game was Chelsea vs. West Brom from 11/12/16. A tight game was decided by a single goal. I didn’t watch the match live but saw on Twitter Costa had scored and been assisted by Fàbregas – cue a barrage of tweets about how Fàbregas is so good at assists and has some kind of Premier League record (at least 10 assists in 6 different Premier League seasons) – then I saw the goal. Fàbregas plays an aimless ball into the corner, Costa chases it, bullies his man off the ball, beats another man when cutting inside and smashes the ball into the net from a much more central position, though he still has work to do – the goal is shown below.

So what’s wrong with that? Fàbregas provided the assist Costa scored the goal? 1 goal for Costa, 1 assist for Fàbregas.

Let’s look at the Chance Rating for this goal – judging this by the StrataData scale we have this as a Very Good Chance, which has an xG value of 0.245 – essentially from that position in those circumstances we’d expect Costa to score that chance roughly 1 in 4 times.

But what about the assist? It’s essentially just a long ball into the corner. How much credit does Fàbregas deserve? Using our new method of rating Primary Creation (the assist to the shot) and Secondary Creation (the pass before the Assist) we can gather expected values for these as well, in this case we’d rate Fàbregas’ Assist as ‘Poor Creation Quality’ and he would be awarded 0.033 xA.

This is useful in 2 ways. It assigns a value to those assists, rating them closer to the quality and expectation of being scored. It also allows us to look into the data and see which players are doing a better job of making chances for themselves.

This can then be used to judge how much a team will miss a striker – for example a situation where a striker has an xG score very close to the xA of those chances is likely to be a player who relies on others to set him up. While it can still depend on the type of chances created, these teams would miss the players creating the chances more than the attackers having the final shot.

A player with an xG score much higher than the xA score for those chances is capable of turning a ‘bad’ pass into a much higher quality chance for himself. These players are missed much more when they don’t play, with the team often reliant on individual brilliance.

Top 20 Premier League xA leading contributors 2017-18 (Old vs. New Method)

Data correct up to 22/09/17

While the early stage of the season means that there aren’t too many differences still there are some interesting points to look at straight away.

Eriksen drops by 0.652xA, which, for a player so lauded by so many, means that Tottenham, are likely still relying on more than just an end product by Kane and Alli to finish their chances. In fact Ben Davies surprisingly moves above him marginally as the chances he’s created stayed at the same level between the old method and the new method.

The top of the xA table is still populated by Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham players, making up 7 of the top 10 so at least as a sense check the new method seems to be working.

The Team difference also effects the top sides most, largely due to the number of chances they have created rather than a reduction in quality, but it does mean that these sides may be more reliant on top quality strikers turning Good Chances into Great ones. The top 5 seeing a reduction in xA from the old method to the new method are Manchester City, Liverpool, Newcastle, Arsenal & Chelsea.

I’ll follow this up later in the season to see if the theory still holds true but I’m hopeful it will be a promising new way to look at the quality of assist produced.

This is just one part of the variety of data we collect at StrataBet. If you are interested in purchasing StrataData please contact us on info@stratabet.com to discuss your needs

 

@donceno

Weekend Review 18/09/17

Highlights

English Premier League
Chelsea vs. Arsenal (Sunday 1:30pm)
With such a poor record away to last seasons top 6 over the past couple of years Arsenal needed to turn in a big performance. They managed it and actually had the better of the game for spells. Welbeck and Lacazette missed first half chances and Ramsey hit the post but the game lacked any clear cut openings in the 2nd period. Chelsea looked strangely subdued and lacking ideas on how to break Arsenal down and never looked close to getting the full win on the Asian Handicap.

Suggestion: Chelsea -0.75 @ 2.060
Actual Outcome:  0-0 (-0.75)
Fair Outcome: 0-1 (-0.75)

Dutch Eredivisie

PSV vs. Feyenoord (Sunday 3:45pm)

Feyenoord got off to the worst possible start in this one, conceding after just 2 minutes as Pereiro opened the scoring. A tight match followed but PSV had chances in the 1st half to extend their lead while Feyenoord were the ones pushing for an equaliser in the 2nd half with PSV happy to play on the break. With Jorgensen injured the away side struggled to convert some reasonable chances and the red card just before the break for Berghuis made the 2nd half much more comfortable for the hosts and saw this Suggestion come in.

Suggestion: PSV -0.50 @ 2.081
Actual Outcome:  1-0 (-0.50)
Fair Outcome: 2-1 (-0.50)

 

France Ligue 1
PSG vs. Lyon (Sunday 8:00pm)

PSG were huge favourites in this game, showing their utter dominance of the French League at the minute to so so heavily backed against a traditional title rival that the Asian Handicap line had actually moved to -2.5 before the game. As it was PSG struggled and Lyon had some good chances, including hitting the bar. It took 2 own goals in the last 15 minutes for PSG to eventually win the game and record a Half Loss for our suggestion but a Penalty miss by Cavani – after an argument about who would take it with Neymar – between these goals shows the fine margins between winning and losing.

Suggestion: PSG -2.25 @ 1.892
Actual Outcome:  2-0 (-2.25)
Fair Outcome: 2-1 (-2.25)

 

Ones to Watch

Germany Bundesliga
RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Monchengladbach (Saturday 5:30pm)

RB Leipzig were twice ahead in this game but couldn’t hang on or push for another goal which would have seen a full win on the Asian Handicap. In truth, the sides were evenly matched and there weren’t many clear chances, with good finishing providing 4 goals rather than a lot of quality opportunities. Disappointingly the Monchengladbach goals came from a needless penalty and a fine long range strike but it’s hard to say they didn’t deserve a share of the points.

Suggestion: RB Leipzig -0.75 @ 1.92
Actual Outcome:  2-2 (-0.75)
Fair Outcome: 1-1 (-0.75)


Spain Primera Liga

Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid (Sunday 7:45pm)

The problems for both sides were noted before the game, with Sociedad without both first choice centre backs and Real Madrid missing Ronaldo and Benzema amongst a few others, so Mayoral got a very rare start. It mattered little as he scored the first and assisted the 2nd and with in form Sociedad fully playing their part in the 1st half it was 1-2 at the break. Bale sealed the victory for Real Madrid just after the hour and ensured the Overs bet came in, which was a fair score.

Suggestion: Over 3.25 goals @ 1.98
Actual Outcome:  1-3 (+0.75)
Fair Outcome: 1-3 (+0.75)

 

England Championship

Barnsley vs. Aston Villa (Saturday 5:30pm)

Aston Villa tore up their recent form with a convincing victory away to Barnsley. Despite only 4 wins in 26 previous Championship games Villa were in full control from the moment a mistake by Davies allowed Adomah to poke them ahead. Barnsley had been in the game up to this point but failed to really test Johnstone in goal and a needless challenge for a penalty just before the break gave Villa a comfortable cushion with the 2nd goal. Despite trying to get a reaction a 3rd goal on 55 minutes by Davis killed the game and gave the away side a richly deserved victory.

Suggestion: Barnsley +0.5 @ 1.84
Actual Outcome:  0-3 (+0.50)
Fair Outcome: 0-3 (+0.50)

 6 Suggestions
Total Actual Outcome: -1.5
Total Fair Outcome: -2

*Odds accurate at time of writing

 

Top 3 Trading Moves of the Weekend 18/09/17

Highlights

 

England Premier League
Manchester United vs Everton (Sunday 4:00pm)

Manchester United were given a -1.5 handicap for this game and it looked fair after Everton’s struggle over the last week. Valencia got the home side off to a perfect start after 4 minutes but after this they struggled. Everton, inspired by Rooney, performed well and could consider themselves unlucky not to score. However, they ran out of steam later on and conceded 3 late goals to beat both the Handicap line and the Goals Line and though Everton can consider themselves unfortunate to be on the end of such a big score, Manchester United beating the Handicap should be considered fair.

Actual Outcome:  4-0 (-1.50)
Fair Outcome: 3-1 (-1.50)

Italy Serie A
Milan vs Udinese (Sunday 2:00pm)
A goal line of 2.75 was reasonably set with the onus on Milan to bounce back from a heavy defeat to Lazio last weekend and produce goals. After taking the lead on 22 Minutes, Udinese quickly equalised but Milan went back ahead to mean Overs would be at least a half win by 31 minutes. The game then remained with this scoreline but a controversial decision denied the full win on 82 minutes, when Milan scored but the goal was called back by the VAR system – further viewing makes this seem like the wrong decision and the goal should have stood.

Actual Outcome:  2-1 (-1.25)
Fair Outcome: 3-1 (-1.25)

 

China Super League
Shanghai SIPG vs Shanghai Shenhua (Saturday 12:35pm)

With a Goals Line of 3.5 this was expected to be an exciting and end to end game. Shanghai SIPG were big favourites but the 1st half was a non-event with the score at 0-0 and no quality chances to speak of. The line had drifted at this point but things changed dramatically at the start of the 2nd half – by 63 minutes the score was 4-1 to Shanghai SIPG with the Over line coming in with a 4th goal in the space of 5 minutes between 56′ and 61′.

Actual Outcome:  6-1 (-1.50)
Fair Outcome: 4-0 (-1.50)

Weekend Preview 15/09/17

Highlights

English Premier League
Chelsea vs. Arsenal (Sunday 1:30pm)
Sky Sports Premier League
Arsenal have still not fully recovered from the heavy defeat at Liverpool and despite winning comfortably in 2 home games they are underdogs against the title holders. Arsenal haven’t beaten Chelsea away from home since 2011 and Chelsea may well have a point to prove after losing both the FA Cup Final and Community Shield in slightly unfortunate circumstances.

Chelsea also played on Tuesday compared to Arsenal playing in the Europa League on Thursday though they did rest all but 3 or 4 of their full strength team. Sanchez got some much needed game time against FC Koln while Hazard did the same in midweek against Qarabag. Both should start. Cahill returns to strengthen Chelsea’s back line.

It’s unlikely Wenger will make the same tactical mistakes as against Liverpool but Arsenal will still have to play above themselves to get anything from this game. Chelsea will be keen to take the full 3 points and deepen Arsenal’s misery.

Suggestion: Chelsea -0.75 @ 2.060


Dutch Eredivisie
PSV vs. Feyenoord (Sunday 3:45pm)
Sky Sports Football
Feyenoord’s heavy defeat to Manchester City in the Champions League in midweek could have a big mental effect on them ahead of this game. PSV, already knocked out of Europe, should be much fresher and know a win puts them back level on points after last weeks defeat to Heerenveen.

While it is still early in the season, a Feyenoord win would be nothing short of a disaster for Cocu but luckily he has almost a full squad available with only Lozano out suspended. Feyenoord will likely be without Jorgensen and Haps, both key at either end of the pitch.

PSV will be determined to win this game, while Feyenoord would take a draw and with the line moving from -0.25 on PSV to -0.5 it shows that PSV are likely to have the mental edge and push for the win if the game is level in the latter stages.

Suggestion: PSV -0.5 @ 2.081

 

France Ligue 1
PSG vs. Lyon (Sunday 8:00pm)
BT Sport 1
PSG look in completely unstoppable form as they bid to regain the Ligue 1 crown and have a long run in the Champions League. Their opponents Lyon have not started the season quite as well, dropping points in 2 games and not being strong enough defensively to hold onto a lead.

Both sides played in European competition midweek but Lyon surprisingly played a stronger side than expected away to Apollon of Cyprus and still only managed a draw. PSG have had an extra 2 days to recover from a convincing win away to Celtic, so fatigue is likely to hit Lyon much harder than the hosts.

Both sides are very attacking in nature and it will be difficult for Lyon to sit back, which is why the goal line has been set so high in this game (4.25) but with 38 goals in the 10 matches between them this season this is understandably set. However, it’s PSG to make a big statement that is the suggestion for this game.

Suggestion: PSG -2.25 @ 1.892

 

Ones to Watch

Germany Bundesliga
RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Monchengladbach (Saturday 5:30pm)
BT Sport 2
After making their Champions League debut in midweek RB Leipzig should rotate a little for this game, with Keita a potential notable absentee. They have started the season well and the depth of squad should still have enough to see off a Monchengladbach side that has started poorly. While the away side will feel they can get something from the game and cause problems for their hosts Leipzig will still be expected to do enough to comfortably win.

Suggestion: RB Leipzig -0.75 @ 1.92


Spain Primera Liga

Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid (Sunday 7:45pm)
Sky Sports Football
Both sides have notable injury absentees for this game with Sociedad struggling defensively while Madrid have attacking absences to deal with. Raul Navas is out for Sociedad while Inigo Martinez is a major doubt but this is offset as Madrid cope without Ronaldo, Marcelo, Benzema and possibly Asensio.

Despite this, both sides are very attacking and will both feel they can get a victory from this game. That is likely to lead to an open nature and both sides are more than capable of scoring, so beating the 3.25 goal line is realistic.

Suggestion: Over 3.25 goals @ 1.98

 

England Championship

Barnsley vs. Aston Villa (Saturday 5:30pm)
Sky Sports Football
With pre season favourites Aston Villa struggling badly the pressure is starting to show on Steve Bruce. Their typically strong home form only returned 2 points in the last week and they were lucky to hold on at home to Brentford.

Conversely, little is expected of Barnsley and after a bad start to the season they have recovered and shown what they are capable of by beating Sunderland comfortably at home and grabbing a draw at Preston, a difficult place to go.

Barnsley have the players capable of causing problems and Aston Villa’s wretched away from (4 wins from their last 26 Championship away games) shows they are going to have to play above themselves to take the 3 points.

Suggestion: Barnsley +0.5 @ 1.84

 

*Odds accurate at time of writing

Top 3 Trading Moves of the Weekend 12/09/17

Top 3 Trading Moves of the Weekend – 12/09/17

Highlights

Portugal Primeira Liga
Porto vs Chaves (Saturday 8:30pm)

Porto were big favourites for this game but made hard work of Chaves. Porto scored early in the 2nd half but Chaves had 2 big chances after this which would have made beating the line very tough. It stayed 1-0 to Porto until 86 minutes so even 1 more goal would have seen a half win on Chaves but goals for Porto on 86 and 87 minutes turned it around and saw Porto beat the handicap

Actual Outcome:  3-0 (-2.25)
Fair Outcome: 2-1 (-2.25)

Germany Bundesliga 2
Holstein Kiel vs Kaiserslautern (Saturday 12:00pm)
Holstein Kiel were big favourites against Kaiserslautern and though they had the better of the game the home team looked to be struggling to beat the handicap given. The home side took the lead just before half time but Kaiserslautern equalised midway through the 2nd half with their only high quality chance of the game. It stayed this way until the 93rd minute with Kaiserslautern comfortable on the line but a stoppage time own goal by Vucur turned a win for those on the away team into a half loss.

Actual Outcome:  2-1 (-0.75)
Fair Outcome: 2-1 (-0.75)


 

Italy Serie A
Bologna vs Napoli (Sunday 7:45pm)

The 2.75 goal line was reasonably placed and dropped slightly possibly due to Napoli’s Champions League involvement in midweek.

Napoli dominated but struggled to make a lot of high quality chances and the game remained 1-0 until 83 minutes, when a quick fire double by Mertens and Zielinski took the game to overs, something that didn’t look likely for a long time. The Fair Score reflected this, with Napoli still comfortable enough to beat the Asian Handicap but those on Overs lucky to gain a half win.

Actual Outcome:  0-3 (+1.25)
Fair Outcome: 0-2 (+1.25)