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August 28, 2013

An Introduction to Zone Entries

By Danny Pugsley

By Danny Pugsley

Welcome to a little project.

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Both here at StatsBomb and over at my more regular home at Bitter and Blue there has been a lot of great work of late looking shots; areas such as placement, distance and conversion. My particular interest though has been to take a step back from this: to look at how shots are generated; what are the successful drivers behind getting a shot at goal and are there are any patterns that a side displays?

The germ of the idea, as, admittedly, a lot of the areas of analytics that spark my interest, was formulated with hockey with some great work having been done over the past couple of seasons (examples here and here) led by Eric Tulsky, who had a paper presented on this subject at last years MIT Sloan Conference.

So, what do we measure? Well, for a start all the data has to be manually recorded so as much as the possibility of watching endless Premier League games thrills me, for now we will have to stick to just Manchester City. (Incidentally, one of the successes of the venture in hockey is the way in which it has spread across the NHL with a number of teams now having this data recorded).

Essentially, every time City either make a final third entry or concede a final third entry this is recorded. We note the entry type (carry, header, turnover or short, medium or long pass), the individual making the entry and the outcome (dispossessed, turnover, corner won, fouled or shot (inside and outside the box) with the shot outcome (saved, wide, blocked or goal)) also noted. Once processed, this then produces the following tables on a weekly basis, with the following tables being City’s early season totals after the Newcastle and Cardiff games:

Team entry summary

Team Carry Turnover Header Short pass Med pass Long pass Total
City 21 2 0 62 28 3 116
Opposition 8 2 0 14 8 11 43

Outcome per entry type

City Enries Dispossed Turnover back out Corner won Fouled Total shots Shot in box Shot o/s box Blocked Saved Wide Goal Shots p/e Goals p/e
Carry 21 8 4 0 1 2 6 5 1 1 3 1 1 28.57 4.76
Turnover 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 50.00 50.00
Header 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 n/a n/a
Short Pass 62 12 21 10 5 1 13 11 2 4 2 6 1 20.97 1.61
Med pass 28 7 8 2 2 0 9 8 1 0 3 3 3 32.14 10.71
Long pass 3 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
Total 116 28 35 12 8 4 29 25 4 5 8 10 6 25.00 5.17
Opposition Entries Dispossed Turnover back out Corner won Fouled Total shots Shot in box Shot o/s box Blocked Saved Wide Goal Shots p/e Goals p/e
Carry 8 1 2 1 0 1 3 1 2 1 1 0 2 37.50 25.00
Turnover 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
Header 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 n/a n/a
Short Pass 14 7 3 0 1 0 3 1 2 1 1 1 0 21.43 0.00
Med pass 8 0 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
Long pass 11 2 6 1 0 0 2 2 0 0 1 0 1 18.18 9.09
Total 43 11 19 2 1 2 8 4 4 2 3 1 3 18.60 6.98

Entry per individual

City Entries Carry Turnover Header Short pass Med pass Long pass
Hart 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Zabaleta 11 2 0 0 7 2 0
Clichy 20 2 0 0 12 5 1
Kompany 2 0 0 0 0 2 0
Lescott 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
Toure 14 0 0 0 6 7 1
Fernandinho 9 1 1 0 3 4 0
Silva 23 3 0 0 16 3 1
Navas 14 7 0 0 5 2 0
Aguero 8 4 0 0 4 0 0
Dzeko 5 1 0 0 3 1 0
Garcia 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
Nasri 5 1 0 0 3 1 0
Negredo 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
Milner 2 0 0 0 2 0 0
Total 116 21 2 0 60 28 3

Outcome per individual

City Total Dispossed Turnover Back out Fouled Corner won Total shots Shot in box Shot o/s box Blocked Saved Wide Goal Shots p/e Goals p/e
Hart 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 n/a n/a
Zabaleta 11 2 5 1 0 0 3 3 0 1 0 1 1 27.27 9.09
Clichy 20 4 7 2 0 2 5 5 0 1 2 1 1 25.00 5.00
Kompany 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 50.00 50.00
Lescott 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.00 100.00
Toure 14 2 7 2 0 1 2 0 2 0 0 1 1 14.29 7.14
Fernandinho 9 4 1 1 0 1 2 2 0 0 0 2 0 22.22 0.00
Silva 24 5 6 2 1 2 8 7 1 1 2 3 1 33.33 4.17
Navas 14 5 4 1 1 1 2 2 0 1 1 0 0 14.29 0.00
Aguero 8 3 4 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 12.50 0.00
Dzeko 5 1 0 1 1 0 2 2 0 0 1 1 0 40.00 0.00
Garcia 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 100.00 0.00
Nasri 4 0 1 2 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 25.00 0.00
Negredo 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 100.00 0.00
Milner 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
Total 116 27 35 12 4 7 29 25 4 5 8 11 6 25.00 5.17

Ben also took a retrospective look at the zone entries for the Champions League final, and whilst the purpose of the project is to ultimately look at the data over the course of a season, it may also shed an interesting and insightful light on individual games.

We can also see over even such a short sample size that City appear to favour certain entry types (short pass or carry) with certain players also driving these entries.

What was interesting to compare between the two games in particular (which you can do with the data dump over at Bitter and Blue) was the increased number of turnovers against Cardiff than against Newcastle, the use of their full backs high up the field and how certain players (notably Edin Dzeko and Jesus Navas) had far less entries.

There is the data dump over at Bitter and Blue which I will update weekly and this is a topic I will return to regularly here as the season progresses but in the meantime I’d be interested in any initial thoughts or comments.

Article by Danny Pugsley