When do we begin to panic over Man City's 7th place, 16 point haul? NOW! screams the generic fan. Maybe I have mellowed in my old age, maybe I don't care as much, but I am absolutely miles away from panic.
Either way, we must look at Man City's form and be gently concerned at certain traits.
Goalkeeper having a crazy, uncharacteristic funk in form.
Kompany's injury breakdowns.
Here's the thing: I don't see how any of the three points that I quickly thought of are systemic faults in tactics or setup and thus can be pinned on Pellegrini.
Pellegrini can set up his team in meticulous fashion, get his tactics and personnel spot on, Man City can out-shoot their opponents, out-chance their opponents, but he can do very little about the daggers than keep piercing his best laid plans. Those daggers are individual mistakes, 5 second mistakes in a 96 minute game and they are costing Man City dearly right now. Hart, Nastasic, Kompany, Clichy, Negredo. Pick any names you want.
Man City's tactical setup, both in attack and defense is absolutely fine, in fact it is producing some of the best underlying numbers in the league. So we don't need to worry about the system Pellegrini is employing.
Think of Man City team as a huge, elegant steam liner. These individual mistakes are the giant anchor that is stuck fast to the sea bed.
Time for Joe to sit for a game or two. Have a rest, work with him on some technical issues/decision making, bring him back into a side that has Kompany in it.
2) Torres To Aguero
Niall Quinn made an interesting point during Sky's broadcast yesterday. When asked when we'll know if Fernando Torres is back to his old form Quinn replied "when he is scoring two or three goals a game".
We know Quinn's statement is nonsense, we all laughed.
But the discussion had me thinking, just how good does Torres look in the PL this year? Obviously the goals haven't flowed, but maybe the players underlying numbers can point to a return to form?
9 games into the season this is how a select group of strikers are performing:
Torres has pretty similar SoT numbers to Olivier Giroud. Giroud has the hot scoring%, Torres doesn't.
Suarez is out of this world in his shortened season. Aguero is dynamite in every category. Sturridge has some really nice shots numbers but the goals are coming from that unsustainable scoring%, which will cool off. Also, Sturridge needs some rest, he'll become jaded or, worse, injured if he continues to play nearly every minute available.
Torres's shots and shots on target numbers are an improvement on previous seasons but they still aren't super good. The low scoring% is the anchor.
3) Player Of The Week
Suarez v West Brom. Yes, we know that Suarez crushes teams like this, but it's still nice to see one of the league's best operators in top form.
"I think statistics are evil," he said. "They don't really show anything.
"Today it is okay as we win, but when you lose they are not as important.
"I think more than anything today it is about how we played aside from the three points, aside from getting the victory.
"Statistics are relative and more than anything I am satisfied with how we won today."
Pretty funny, really. Maybe MP meant it, maybe it was something that got lost in translation.
Statistics may be evil, at least in Pochettino's mind, but in the first 9 games they have some dark, evil love for Southampton. Let's see if some numbers which tell us some nice things about Pochettino's defensive scheme can convince him!
SoT Prevention% (how good a team is at preventing the opposition from getting shots on target) 70.47% (3rd)
Save% 88.46% (1st - by a mile)
Goals Against three (1st)
Final Third Passes Against 1011 (3rd)
Shots Against 88 (2nd after the defensive chaos and turmoil that is Man City)
All of these numbers tell us that Southampton have some really good things going on defensively. Southampton are able to restrict the opposition passing in their own third of the pitch, they are also able to restrict the number of shots against and how many of those are actually on target. All told, Southampton have some wicked defensive numbers.
But, and there is always a but, Southampton's save% is a thing we must talk about. At 88% it is around 16% points above the league average. It is not going to stay 16% points above league average, in fact the save percentage is going to fall and regress.
When that save% does regress, Southampton's won't be able to sustain their current ppg clip unless they can significantly increase their offensive output to cover for the regression of said save%.
Southampton have a lot of really good things going for them, but that scary good save% is coming down.
Mauricio, un poco de musica para ti...puede aprender algo!
5) Quick Fire
Fernandinho Is starting, ever so slowly, to look really good. Hid performance in the 2nd half v Chelsea reminded me of his Shakhtar days. Quick, good passer, ball-carrier, destroyer.
Cardiff If Norwich can post 31(10) shots against you, then you have some serious issues with defending, control of the game and restricting the opposition.
Swansea Look like Barcelona right now in terms of their ability to get a high percentage f their shots on target. SoT for% currently stands at 43.3%. An interesting attacking scheme for sure.
Villa, of any PL team, have had by far the hardest set of fixtures through the first 9 games. That difficult run has ended, Villa are in good shape, it's now time to get more points on the board against some of the weaker teams. West Ham, Cardiff, West Brom & Sunderland are the next four fixtures.
6) Fulham, We're Worried About You
Fulham, you want to thank Crystal Palace and Sunderland for their utter ineptitude. For if they weren't so inept we may be talking about you a little bit more than we currently are. This may seem odd, right? Fulham have 10 points so far, hell they probably only need another 25 or 27 points to survive, so what's my problem?
Fulham are a horrible team. They are constantly out-shot, they lack pace and dynamism. Hell, the only thing they seem to be good at is getting the shots they take on target (Fulham's numbers are on par with Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool. Sustainable?). Anyway, I am not sure if Fulham can continue to be out-shot to the extent they are in each game they play.
Obviously Fulham's SoT numbers don't look as bad as their shots numbers do, but both numbers are in the bottom two in the entire league. Now, there are no certainties in life but if Fulham continue to be out-shot by this margin or worse (they have faced soft competition so far) then they will be in deep relegation trouble.
Fulham cannot, and should not, believe that a PDO of 109 (above average) will continue to bail them out of the shots deficit.
Fulham are on course to be out-shot by 439 shots and 97 shots on target.
7) Tied GS Shots & Win %
Ever wondered what the w/d/l record of the team who out-shoots their opponents at Tied GS where score effects are at a minimum? Of course you haven't.
Anyhow, I wondered what the answer is so I pulled all 90 PL games this year and looked for the team with the highest number of shots at tied and checked that against the game result. I threw out the games where the shots count was tied (7 games) just because I felt like it!
The dominant shot team at tied GS went W50 D18 L15. That works out at 2.02 ppg for the dominant shots team, which isn't bad at all. A list of Tied TSR teams can be found here.
Not sure it means too much after juts 9 rounds of fixtures (luck and variance etc), but I thought it was an interesting quirk and I was really struggling to fill this point with anything worthwhile!
8) Arsenal: The Good
Arsenal have had a tremendous start to the season and it's been a lot of fun to watch.
Things that are going great for Arsenal:
Scoring% 35% (2nd)
Save% 78% (6th)
PDO 113 (3rd)
SoTR 58% (6th)
Time Spent Winning 49 minutes per game on average.
Shots on target ratio is pretty darn good but once we marry that to the scoring% and save% numbers then it's easy to see why Arsenal have been piling up the points.
At Tied Game State
Scoring% 47.61% (lge ave = 30%)
PDO 119 (lge ave = 100)
WHOA! Arsenal are a fine shots on target team at Tied GS (no score effects). Again, add the shots ratio to the scoring%/PDO and it's easy to see why Arsenal have had such a fine start to the season. Arsenal out-shoot their opponents and the convert their shots at a more efficient rate.
So far so good...
9) Arsenal: The Regression
Now I am going to be a dick and tell you why it might not continue.
Things that will regress:
Arsenal's scoring% at Tied Game State. It's going to regress hard.
The amount of time spent winning and the booster effects to scoring% & save% that minutes spent in a winning position causes. You may think 49 minutes per game in a winning position is sustainable, I don't.
Another potential reason for Arsenal's excellent numbers is their strength of schedule. I have Arsenal down as having faced (10th game included) the weakest shots TSR teams, the 3rd weakest SoTR teams and the 2nd weakest final third possession teams.
Knowing this, it's understandable that Arsenal have beaten a lot of those teams quite handily, for Arsenal beat sub-par teams better than almost anyone else in the PL. Some of Arsenal's excellent scoring%'s and PDO numbers will regress, the shots ratios are also likely to come down over the coming weeks. Why?
Upcoming Fixtures: Liverpool (h) Man Utd (a) Southampton (h) Cardiff (a) Hull (h) Everton (h) City (a) Chelsea (h).
Wow, I count two easy games there in Cardiff and Hull. The rest? That's six of the seven best teams in the country that Arsenal have to play and those games are sandwiched in-between CL games and the notorious injury months of November and December.
I asked twitter this question: What is the O/U points for Arsenal's next 8 games? Twitter thinks it's around 12.5/13 points. That would leave Arsenal at 35 points from 17 games. A good haul, but not title form.
10) Goal of The Week
Sturridge. Bad keeping but hey, the execution was dreamy.
Article by Ben Pugsley