Bayern Munich vs FC Koln Player Positional Tracker

Bayern Munich had a fairly comfortable 4-1 win at home to FC Koln this evening.

As picked up by Rene Maric in his as usual, excellent, tactical analysis of the game Bayern Munich decided to totally overload the left side of the pitch.  Rene’s analysis can be found here.

I produced a Player Positional Tracker (PPT) for this game and I think it neatly shows how Bayern approached this game, and it compliments Rene’s article.

For anyone that isn’t aware, our PPT is produced using Opta “on the ball” events.

 

FCBvFCK

(click on the image to open the PPT in a larger window)

We immediately see how Bayern tilted their offensive moves towards the left side of the pitch and how narrow they were on the right side.

Koln’s right side of the defense were faced with Ribery, Gotze and Alaba all attacking them.

For the first 30 minutes, Bayern’s right sided attacking players, Robben and Muller’s dots on the PPT were very small; this indicates a lack of passes or shots (i.e. attacking involvement).

Newcastle v Chelsea – Player Positional Tracker

Newcastle 2 vs 1 Chelsea

Here is our visualisation that shows the smoothed positions of players around the time as indicated.

As we don’t have access to detailed tracking data we have tried to be as smart as we can with the “on-the-ball” data collected by Opta; we think we’ve made a decent attempt at trying to understand the flow of the game and the general positional trends of the players within the game. We know it’s not perfect, but we’d need full tracking data to ensure that we have the exact positions of every player correct at all times.  In the absence of full tracking data, hopefully people will find these visualisations helpful.

I don’t have much time this morning (which has been the case for the last month or so) so I am only pointing out a couple of very noticeable features from my watching of the PPT below.

  • In the early stages, Newcastle were quite agressive with Ameobi and Dummet playing high up the left wing.  Was this deliberate to keep Ivanovic in check?
  • Newcastle had a decent spell of possession half way through the first half, with Sissoko especially involved during this time
  • I was surprised at the absolute lack of width displayed by Chelsea; it was virtually non-existent in the opening hour.  At times Chelsea had 5 players in the central attacking part of the pitch; Willian, Hazard, Oscar, Diego Costa and Fabregas

Anyway, let me in the comments know what else you see, and you can click the image below to open in a larger window.

 

NEWvCHE

Man United v Chelsea Player Positional Tracker

Man United 1 vs 1 Chelsea

United grabbed a very late equalizer as Mourinho’s Chelsea just faced to hold on to their second half lead.

Here is our visualisation that shows the smoothed positions of players around the time as indicated. The locations are identified with reference to actions as identified by Opta.

Comments from Sam Gregory appear below the PPT.  Click on the gif to open in a larger window:

 

MUFCvCHE

1st Half 
  • United lined up with Van Persie in the middle flanked by Januzaj and Di Maria on the wings. It was a fairly straight forward 4-3-3 with Mata floating between the two lines as the link between midfield and forwards. This marked yet another change in formation for Van Gaal who had used a 4-1-4-1 against West Brom.
  • Blind was quite effective in the first half following Fabregas throughout and keeping him off the ball in the middle. Fabregas was forced to drop into positions closer to the Chelsea back four as the half went on.
2nd Half
  • To start the second half Di Maria and Januzaj switched wings and Di Maria was very involved for the first fifteen or twenty minutes testing Ivanovic on the left side.
  • Once Chelsea scored through Drogba they reverted to their typical shut-down football. Cahill and Terry dropped much deeper while Ivanovic and Felipe Luis made fewer attacking runs. Mikel came off the bench to fulfil his usual role of guarding the back four, giving Matic and Fabregas more freedom to disrupt United’s passing game further up the pitch.
  • United’s attacking game completely fell off after the Chelsea goal and it wasn’t until the final five or so minutes when they started to make a few chances.
Conclusion
  • Fabregas probably had his least effective game since coming to Chelsea and a lot of the credit goes to Blind and Fellaini who kept him fairly quiet.
  • A draw was probably a fair result, but Chelsea usually hold onto these results when they are able to slow down and kill off the game so United can take solace in the fact they were able to pull off the draw.

Attacking Contribution Metric and Man United’s reliance on Di María

Short version: Angel Di María is the player that his club have relied upon most for his attacking contribution so far in this Premier League season.

Long version: Please read on

Many years ago the only individual player performance stats that we had access to were goal scoring records. Then someone decided it would be a neat idea to give credit to other attacking players and we began to also record the assists, ie the player that set up the goal. These stats are great, but as only approximately one in every ten shots is scored we inevitably lost a lot of detail as these performance counting stats only included the sample of shots that were scored. Why should the final shot from the striker influence whether or not the creative midfielder was awarded the assist or not for his through ball? To a large degree, the actual finish was outside of his control after all.

In relatively recent times things have improved for those that like to count things. Thanks to Opta (other brands may also be available) we now have a proliferation of sites that list the total number of shots and key passes that players make during each individual game and also cumulatively across a season. By stepping back one level from the old goal and assists metrics we can now credit players for their attacking output, regardless of the outcome of the final shot.

We know that not all shots are created equally, but given that there is a certain level of randomness in whether or not any individual shot actually results in a goal this increased level of transparency of individual attacking contribution can only be a good thing.

However, if we wish to accurately measure Attacking Contribution why stop at just the shot and the key pass? Doing so means that the player that played the penultimate pass gets no recognition at all, at least as far as the stats are concerned, and what about the player that made the pass preceding that?

Attacking Movements

Using detailed Opta event data I can join together the sequence of events for each shot that was taken and I can map out the complete attacking movement. These moves range in length from zero passes before the shot to the 51 event attacking move that Tottenham achieved against QPR earlier this season; a move that ended in a Nacer Chadli goal.

Using the information derived from these moves I want to have a go at creating a more comprehensive Attacking Contribution metric. This metric will go farther than counting just shots and key passes and can help us objectively measure the attacking importance of any individual player to their team. We have no need to just award “attacking points” to the shooter and the maker of the final pass. As with most of these metrics we’ll start with undertaking attacking analysis, as inevitably trying to analyse defensive contribution will be a much more difficult piece of work.

Data Rules

I needed to decide on a cut-off point in determining which actions to count in my Attacking Contribution metric. Although I want to go farther back in the chain than the guy who made the final pass, it is a tough sell to suggest that the player who made the 10th last pass in the move should receive credit for his part in the move. It’s an arbitrary cut-off but I decided to permit the final four attacking events in a move to contribute towards Attacking Contribution; this allows for the shot plus the previous three attacking events (pass, take-on or ball recovery).

For this measure I didn’t want to place different weightings on the extent of the involvement in any given attacking move. Very simply, if a player was involved in the final four attacking events in a move that led to a shot then they were awarded an Attacking Contribution. It is obviously possible for a player to be involved more than once in a move, ie they play a one two before taking the shot, but each player was only awarded one Attacking Contribution per move. After all, I simply want to measure how many moves each player could be said to have been involved in.

I am conscious that this analysis can only use the data that I have access to. Although the Opta event data is very detailed it only covers “on the ball” actions, which will be fine for 95% of this analysis. However, it will be unaware of the player that made the step over that sent the defender the wrong way or the supporting forward who made the unselfish run to pull the defenders out of their shape. I don’t imagine that these “oversights” will significantly impact on the findings in this analysis but I wanted to address that point now.

The premise of this metric is that it shouldn’t just be the shooter and the player that makes the final pass that receives Attacking Contribution credit, as is currently the case.

This post will serve as an introduction to my Attacking Contribution method; I have a few ideas related to this metric that I would like to tease out and analyse in the near future but I’ve got to start somewhere and I’ll keep the numbers in this piece fairly simple.

2014 Premier League Attacking Contribution

As a means of illustrating and working through this metric let’s look at the first seven games of the 2014/15 Barclays Premier League.

Here are the 15 players that have had the greatest Attacking Contribution in absolute terms:

ACLeaders

With 22 key passes and 7 assists it’ll not surprise anyone to see that Cesc Fabregas has been the player that has had the highest Attacking Contribution during the opening seven game weeks of this new season.  By looking at the total number of minutes that each player has played we can convert these values to Attacking Contributions per90, this method of normalisation means we can easily compare players regardless of time spent on the pitch.  However, I’m not going to dwell on this aspect right now.

What I do want to spend some time on is describing how I see this metric being most useful: Which player contributes most to their teams’ shots?

Attacking Reliance

To assess the attacking impact that a player has I looked at their individual Attacking Contribution numbers as a proportion of the total shots that their team had while they were on the pitch. By doing this I’m not actually trying to measure the effect that a player has on their team’s attacking output, ie if the player was missing I’m not suggesting that his team would see their shots total drop by x shots. Instead, I am quantifying the proportion of shots a team takes that goes through the player, in other words it looks at to what extent a team relies on a player. How much of a team’s attacking game revolves around player X or player Y?

In this analysis I used a cut-off of 50% of minutes – a player has needed to be on the pitch for at least 315 minutes so far this season.

By dividing a player’s Attacking Contribution by the number of shots his team took whilst he was on the pitch I then arrive at an Attacking Reliance %. This Attacking Reliance percentage informs us of the proportion of attacks that the player is involved in (as defined by the final four attacking events of the move) or how much their team has relied on them in an attacking sense. The table in descending order of Attacking Reliance% currently appears as:

 

Reliance

Now we get a different looking table, and one that seems to make sense. Fabregas has the highest absolute Attacking Contribution value, but despite his sublime performances Chelsea have had a sufficient volume of shots for them not to be overly reliant on the Spaniard.

High Reliance Players

We can see that even though he has only been with Man United for a very short period of time Angel Di Maria is having a hugely important contribution to their attacking output with an Attacking Reliance figure of 56%. Compare that with United’s other big name signing / loanee Falcao; even if I set aside the 50% minutes rule in this data set he still wouldn’t appear in this list. The Colombian striker has been involved in just 40% of United’s attacking moves. Given his price tag he’ll want to be quickly increasing that value.

The reliance that United has had on Di Maria is the highest in the league, just pipping Christian Eriksen who himself posts a rounded Attacking Reliance value of 56%. Despite struggling and appearing to be out of favour for large parts of his first year as a Tottenham player, the Danish attacking midfielder is now showing everyone his true worth. In fairness, it’s worth pointing out that some analysts were ahead of the curve on his ability.

Ted concluded that piece with “This might be controversial, but based on the rarity of that type of performance and how he’s performed over his career, Christian Eriksen is quite possibly one of the best attacking passers in the Premier League already”. 

Although Graziano Pelle has received the majority of the plaudits down on the South coast it is interesting to see that Dusan Tadic actually has had a greater involvement in Southampton’s attacking moves than the Italian striker. In fact, even James Ward-Prowse has a higher Attacking Reliance value than Pelle, who for the record has posted a value of 42%.

Swansea’s twin attacking threat of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bony complete the list of players that posted an Attacking Reliance value of greater than 50%. So all a team has to do to stop Swansea is to stop Gyfli and Bony. Why did no one say that before? (insert sarcastic emoticon)

It is unusual for a team to have two players with such high Reliance values, but obviously these things happen so early in the season with a team that has had the second lowest number of shots in the league. In North London, Danny Welbeck will be pleased with his start to life as an Arsenal player with his involvement in 48% of Arsenal’s shots that have occurred while he has been on the pitch.

One other player that is worth mentioning is Riyad Mahrez of Leicester.  He has played just shy of 400 minutes this season, but more shots have gone through him while he has been on the pitch than any of the other Leicester players, including better known players such as Jamie Vardy and Leonardo Ulloa.

Wrap-up

An Attacking Reliance figure for any individual player of 50% is massive, at least in Premier League terms. Over the last four full seasons only eight players achieved a value of this scale over the full 38 game season (and no, I’m not going to name them today, remember I said this was just an introductory article to the concept).

I’ve said it many times before, but one of the aims of my analytical work is to be able to objectively measure what our eyes see. In this regard, analytics won’t always provide ground breaking findings but it will allow us to quantifiably assess certain impacts, which may in turn, be used as inputs in subsequent applied research. This introductory analysis falls into this category.

In future articles I intend to undertake further analysis so we can see if we can learn anything more from Attacking Reliance figures.
Does a high reliance on individual players effect how successful a team is?
Does it matter if players with a high Attacking Reliance value leave the club?
Do we even have enough examples to be able to test this?

At this stage I don’t have the answers to the above questions, but I hope that’ll change in the near future.

Chelsea v Arsenal PPT. Where was Arsenal’s right side attack?

Chelsea 2 vs 0 Arsenal

Chelsea continued their great start to the season with a commanding victory at home to Arsenal.  They managed to take the lead through a Hazard penalty and they did what Mourinho teams do so well; totally stifled the opposition whilst carrying a terrific attacking threat due to the pace (of thought as well of feet) in their side.

I asked ThatsWengerBall to give me his thoughts on the game via the lens of the PPT, and his comments appear below the gif.

However, I wanted to mention the one facet of the game that was really noticeable with this PPT; Arsenal’s total abandonment of the right side as an attacking option.  Up until the point Oxlade-Chamberlain came on and provided width on that side, Arsenal didn’t have anyone in that area of the pitch during the match.  Watch the entire gif to see what I mean.

Ozil was the most right sided player, but he Cazorla, Welbeck and Wilshere were all primarily in the centre of the pitch.  The lack of Arsenal players in that right side was so noticeable as to make me presume it was a pre-defined strategy for Wenger.  If so, it changed immediately when Ox was brought on.

Definitely a strange one to play so many attacking players in the centre, especially against a Chelsea team that is so solid up the middle.

(Click on the image to open in a larger window)

CHEvARS

That’sWengerBall’s comments:

  • The central/left area of the pitch was very congested with Arsenal’s offensive players throughout the match. Wilshere, Cazorla, Alexis, Özil and Welbeck all occupied positions very close together which had both positive and negative effects on their game.
  • Arsenal played to their strengths, almost turning their offensive game into a five-a-side style match. With little room in the centre of the park, the five aforementioned players exchanged tight angled passes and attempted a very high number of take-ons (40 between them).
  • Whilst this successfully negated Chelsea’s physical advantage (the average height of their starting XI was around 4cm taller than Arsenal’s) and proved effective at moving possession into the final third, they struggled to provide the killer ball as there was so little space that every pass had to be inch perfect.
  • Chelsea’s offensive play was a little more balanced, with Hazard targeting the inexperienced Chambers on the left and Schürrle or Costa acting as an outlet on the right. Whilst this proved effective at stretching Arsenal’s defence, Chelsea’s midfield 3 were unable to provide much support due to the pressure provided by Arsenal’s midfield overload. Oscar, Fabregas and Matic could rarely be found on the ball in the final third of the pitch and Chelsea only managed to complete 85 passes in that area compared to Arsenal’s 143.
  • The shape of the game changed a little from the 70th minute. Wenger brought on Chamberlain who instantly provided width with his shuttling runs down the right hand side; however Mourinho knew he had the upper hand with the goal advantage and brought on Mikel to shore up the defence.
  •  ­Neither side massively impressed going forward, but in the end two moments of individual quality – Hazard’s dribble and Fabregas’ pass – gave Chelsea the three points.

 

Gif Heatmaps: Messi and his increasing Key Pass numbers

Only 6 games have been played in the current La Liga season, but Lionel Messi is forging ahead at the top of the creativity charts.  With 4 Key passes per90, he’s clocking up a full 1.5 Key Passes more than anyone else in Spain’s top division.

His “Ted Radar” for the current season looks like this:

 

Lionel_Messi_2014-15

 

Other than his lack of tackles and interceptions (of which he hasn’t made any) he’s pretty much exhibiting the Full Umbrella radar this season.

His Key Pass value of 4 is a large increase on the 2.4 he chalked up last season but it appears that this increase in creativity is neither fluke nor coincidence.   At a press conference this morning Lionel Messi was quoted as saying the following:

 

barcastuff

 

Locations of Passes that Messi received

Not that I doubted for one second what Messi was saying, but I wanted to see what the Opta data has to say about Messi’s positions over the last few seasons.  I created a gif of the heatmaps based on the locations where Messi has received passes since 2012/13.

 

MessiPassesRecvd

 

Although Messi is still occupying a little of the central spaces it can be clearly seen that during the first 6 games of this season he is operating in positions that are more right of centre.  These locations are visibly different to the more central locations he picked the ball up in during the preceding two seasons.

As Messi said this morning, the other Barcelona forwards are playing in more central positions this season.  Based on this, I guess we can expect to see Messi clocking up some seriously high Key Pass values as the season progresses.  It’ll be interesting to see if this change in positioining has any impact on his shots volume; so far this hasn’t been the case.

Marseille: The Bielsa Press quantified

Previously I have written about the metric which can help us quantify and assess the strength that a team used to press the opposition; Passes per Defensive Action or PPDA.

An introduction to this metric, including its definition and what the numbers represent can be found in this article written in July

In a follow up article which looked at manager tendencies in relation to this PPDA metric  it was no surprise to find that Marcelo Bielsa ranked very highly amongst managers that incorporated a pressing game.  In fact, over the last four seasons across the Big 5 leagues only six managers used a more agressive level of pressing that Bielsa did.

Bielsa at Marseille

Bielsa took over the reins at Marseille at the start of this new season and he and his team have made a great start to the season. With five wins and a draw from their opening seven Ligue 1 games Marseille currently lead the league. It’s also fair to say that the gusto that his team presses with has gained some media attention.  An example of which found its way into my Twitter timeline last night.

 

TwitterPress

 

It’s very early in the season but I wanted to see how Bielsa’s Marseille have performed on my PPDA metric; ie just how strong has their press actually been.

We are all aware that different leagues have differing preferred playing styles, and this is especially true in respect of pressing. In previous articles I showed that the level of pressing is lower in France and England than it is in the other 3 of the “Big 5 leagues”.

French Ligue 1 Pressing Values

To ensure we are comparing like with like, I looked at PPDA values for all individual games played over the previous four seasons within each of the Big 5 leagues. Below are the PPDA values at various percentiles for French Ligue 1.

 

F1Percentiles

 

As an example, in Ligue 1 a team that recorded a PPDA value of 6.85 in a game would mean that their “pressing performance” was in the top 10% of aggressive presses in the context of that league.  But remember, this table is based on single, individual games and not on a cumulative number of games.

Marseille’s PPDA values in 2014/15

So what do Marseille’s PPDA values look like on a game by game basis this season?

 

marseille

 

We can see that the data, unsurprisingly, backs up and confirms what our eyes have been telling us; Marseille have been operating a very agressive press. Indeed their cumulative PPDA over the course of the opening seven games of 8.66 is the lowest in Ligue 1, in other words Marseille are pressing more aggressively than any other team in the league.

If anyone is interested this is the “Pressing Table” for all teams so far in Ligue 1 this season.  I’m sure that someone much more familar with French football than I am can tell me if these rankings are in line with the public perception of how individual teams set themselves up.

 

Ligue1Table

 

Some interesting patterns emerge when we look at Marseille’s pressing on a game by game basis.

The first two games they played seen them record their most aggressive press, and the intensity of the press has tapered off since then. Is this a case of Bielsa toning down his press because it didn’t suit his players?

I don’t think so. Marseille didn’t win either of their first two league games this season, and we would expect teams that are chasing the game to use the press more as they attempt to regain possession and thus record higher PPDA values. Despite what the twitter screenshot (that I posted above) shows, there is no doubt that teams will not press quite so aggressively when they are leading. Why would they risk getting played through?

The apparent decrease in Marseille’s pressing aggression as the season has progressed can be explained, however it is worth pointing that none of the games have seen OM record a PPDA value ranked in the 90th percentile or higher (with reference to individual game Ligue 1 PPDA values). Then again, when teams are winning it would probably be unwise for them to press so aggressively that they notch up a pressing score in an individual game that places them in the top 10% of all values recorded in France.

During Bielsa’s time in control of Bilbao his PPDA value was 8.39. From a pressing point of view it is arguable that Marseille’s PPDA of 8.66 in the context of Ligue 1 is even more impressive than the value he recorded in Spain.

There is no doubt, Marseille are playing football according to the Gospel of Marcelo Bielsa.  It will be super interesting to see if this brand of football will be good enough to win the title and see off the might of PSG.

 

PoweredbyOpta

Olympique Marseille; their tactics and a Player Positional Tracker

Marseille 3 vs 0 Rennes (20th September 2014)

This format of this Player Positional Tracker post is a little different to the way we usually publish them.  I thought it would be good to hear the thoughts on the game from someone that is much more familiar with the teams involved than I am.

This game was played last Saturday, but instead of publishing it straight after the final whistle I wanted to get the thoughts of the excellent Sébastien Chapuis; Sébastien is my go-to guy for French football. 

Sébastien‘s thoughts, both on this game, and in respect of how Marseille set themselves up under Bielsa in a wider context appear underneath the PPT for this game.

 

OMvREN

Game and positional observations

  • Marseille was set up with a back four considering that Rennes only played with a lone striker (Toivonen). Contest looked one-sided in the first half, Rennes was well organised with 2×4 in his defensive half, preventing Marseille to play.

  • Thus, Payet and Ayew had to roam to try to overload Rennes in central areas.

  • Bielsa likes to have attackers on different lines, attacking shape looks lopsided.

  • Thauvin was wide high willing to take on defenders, while the aforementioned Ayew acted more as a midfielder tucking inside on the other side

  • Rennes caused a threat on the counter attack but failed to convert good goalscoring chances.

  • Toivonen acted as a focal point, receiving support from box-to-box Abououalaye Doucouré while Paul-Georges Ntep ran in behind.

  • Gignac’s well taken brace ended the contest in the second half of the game before Alessandrini’s first goal in OM colors, bending a free kick into the top corner against his former team (for the narrative)

Bielsa’s system relies on a high pressing game to recover the ball high up the field.

Bielsa applies the spare man rule at the back and adapts during games. Back 4 if opponent fields one lone striker, back three if opponents has two out and out strikers.

Bielsa does not want his team to prepare attacks for too long, he encourages vertical attacking football;

Hence the feeling that the team is sometimes cut in two parts:

  • a base of 3 players at the back (Morel, Nkoulou and Romao),
  • 4 attackers roaming, running and looking for space (Payet, Thauvin, Gignac and Ayew),
  • two wing backs providing width and linking up with wide players (Dja Djedje and Mendy)
  • the lone Imbula creating the link in between the two blocks (dribbling his way out from defensive third)

 

 

General observations on the set-up of Bielsa’s OM:

  • Marseille is exposed when opposing teams play direct football above the first pressing wave (such at what Bastia did on opening day) or manage to play their way through (such at what Rennes did on occasions).
  • Space behind the full backs is an area targeted by opposing teams looking to hit quickly in transition considering the fact that many OM players will be subsequently caught out of position
  • Right and left CB are expected to cover in behind wing-backs when ball is played there, when OM features a back 3.
  • When OM features a back 4, the process to defend such situations relying on a communication process isn’t fully functional right now. As CB is dragged wide, DM fills his position in central defence but fails to receive support from either Imbula or Payet to keep the area ahead of the penalty box in control.
  • More generally, OM’s expansive gameplan means that it commits bodies forward to attack as well as to counter-press, this puts even more emphasis on the outcome of 1 vs 1 at the back.
  • If a player is 1. on the wrong side of a defensive 1 vs 1 or/and 2. fails to receive support from a team mate on the second ball of a clearance and possession is turned over, Marseille is under threat in his defensive third
  • Bielsa is said to be unhappy with the club’s activity on the transfer market, especially in defensive positions. Has tried several options at the back: Romao, Nkoulou and the much maligned and formerly side defender (not fullback) Jeremy Morel converted into a CB. Even inexperienced youngster (yet aerially dominant) Stephane Sparagna got a chance on opening day at Bastia. It is to be seen whether new signing Doria can grow into a key player for OM at the back
  • Ultimately, Marseille haven’t faced any of Ligue 1’s heavyweights yet. Results have been good, long spans during games have been pretty entertaining (players say they’re working hard during the week to enjoy the weekend game)
  • Marseille has had the ability to convert momentum into goals, especially through opening the scoring. OM is on a 5 game (winning) streak in which they scored first, Gignac scoring 4 of those (out of his 8 league goals).

Gifolution: What is Arsene Wenger doing with Mesut Özil?

It appears that Arsene Wenger is determined to turn Mesut Özil into a left winger; is this really the best use of a player that has the creative talents and vision that Özil possesses?

In this very brief post, I will use heatmaps derived from Opta data to look at the locations where Özil has received the ball.

The following gif shows season long heatmaps for each season from 2011/12 to 2014/15 (so this includes the 4 league games Arsenal has played this season.

(click to open the gif in a larger window)

Özil location of passes received

Ozil11-14PassesRcvd

 

Özil at Real Madrid

In 2011/12, Özil received passes all across the width of the pitch, but we can see that he most often received the ball on the right wing.

In 2012/13 it is noticeable that Özil played a more central position; this is witnessed by the nice continuous streak of red right across the width of the pitch.  It was at this time that Wenger (as indeed most people were) was suitably impressed by Özil’s skills that he decided to raid the Arsenal Piggy Bank and spend in the region of £42m on the German star

Özil’s time in London 

In the 2013/14 season Wenger decided that he didn’t need to play Özil in a central position.  Özil is showing virtually no heat in the central portions of the pitch as he received the ball towards either wing.  Although there is a little orange on the left wing it is clear that Özil did most of his work from the right wing.

In the current season we can see some heat across the pitch but his main area for receiving the ball is clearly towards the left wing.  I know the Premier League season is only 4 games old at this season, but I wonder why Wenger has decided that his German should be shunted across to the left wing.  Lest we forget, it wasn’t his performances from this position that he made Wenger pay in excess of £40m for his talents.

Surely Wenger should be trying to see if he can fit Özil into central positions, or at the very least towards the right wing?

The Rabbit

My daughter got a pet rabbit a few months ago, she enjoys its company but she now wants a dog.  I don’t want to get her a dog as I know the rabbit will be cast aside as all her attention will be diverted to her new pet dog.  Surely Mesut Özil is too good to be the equivalent of my daughter’s pet rabbit.

Everton v Chelsea (30/08/14) – Viz that shows how game shape changed

Everton 3 vs 6 Chelsea

There were goals aplenty at Goodison on Saturday evening, but how did the shape of the teams change as the game ebbed and flowed?  Here’s how the game looked through our Player Positional Tracker.

(Click on the image to make it larger)

They say that Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder, but this is what I picked up from watching the viz:

1st Half

  • Game state undoubtedly played a big part in this (as Everton went behind in the first minute), but between the 5th and 20th minutes, the game was all about Everton pressure and Chelsea were happy to soak it up by sitting in their own half. Typical Mourinho. Unfortunately for Everton the scoreboard read 2-0 at this stage.
  • During this phase of Everton pressure Lukaku wasn’t able to get involved to any great extent
  • When Chelsea started to regain some territory advantage it was driven by Willian and Fabregas – both appeared towards the right side at this time (around the 30 minute mark)
  • In the run up to half time, Willian and Cesc dropped a little deeper and the attacking positions were taken up by Hazard, Costa and Ramires. During this first half Chelsea showed a great amount of attacking fluidity.
  • At the end of the half, Coleman was playing very advanced down the right side and Azpilicueta stayed back to mind the house

EFCvCFCH1

2nd Half

  • Everton were almost playing with three up top at the start of the second half, with Mirallas, Lukaku and Naismith all advanced, and central. Eto’o then came on to join this party later.
  • Ramires played deep during the opening 15 minutes of the second half. During this period he provided more defensive cover than did Matic.
  • Hazard was Chelsea’s attacking outlet in the second half
  • The final stages of the game seen Chelsea pretty much give up possession as they retreated into defence

EFCvCFCH2

Player Positional Tracker: Arsenal v Crystal Palace

Arsenal 2 vs 1 Crystal Palace (16th August 2014) A few things I noticed are listed below, but I am sure that people will have their own opinions on what the viz shows.

  • Other than Gibbs (and then Monreal), Arsenal were very much orientated towards the right side of the pitch. Cazorla was notionally on the right side of midfield, but the Spaniard played very centrally. Palace facilitated this as Puncheon (their right midfielder) also playing narrow and central
  • Chamakh played exceptionally deep during the second half – he was behind his midfield for large parts of the second half
  • Arteta played a very disciplined role. He never moved outside the centre circle on this image (Note, we are not suggesting that he didn’t move outside the centre circle all day!!)
  • Cazorla and Ramsey played very close to each other, with Cazorla always just in positions that were slightly closer to the Crystal Palace goal Click on the viz to open in a larger window