10 Years of StatsBomb

StatsBomb Originals: Mohamed Mohamed

By StatsBomb | July 25, 2023 | 7 min read
10 Years of StatsBomb

StatsBomb Originals: Mohamed Mohamed

This summer, StatsBomb is celebrating a special anniversary: 10 years since the site was formed and the first blog post was published.

A decade ago, the football analytics community was nascent, with a handful of prolific analysts experimenting with whatever football data they could get their hands on – which wasn’t a lot. But with every new blog post, a new analyst would be inspired, they'd write a new blog post... and so the community grew.

Ted (Knutson, now CEO of StatsBomb) created StatsBomb.com to house his own writing, but mostly to act as a centralised hub to amplify the work of the early analysts and researchers (for more on that you can read Ted’s 10 Years of StatsBomb blog post). Ten years on, we’ve spoken to some of those early contributors and will be sharing those conversations in a succession of articles that we’re calling the StatsBomb Originals series.

A warm welcome back to Mohamed Mohamed.

Mohamed has been on the scene for over a decade, his work published in many reputable places. Best known for his scouting analysis, particularly of Ligue 1 in his early days, Moe has written up reports on breakout stars going as far back as teenage-era Ousmane Dembele, Kylian Mbappe, and Nabil Fekir. Perhaps his defining works have been the Football Flashbacks and Golden Boys of Yesteryear series' over on his Medium site. To this day, he can be found combining data and live scouting to analyse players on Twitter at @MoeSquare.

Here’s Mohamed.

What was the first thing you worked on as an analyst? Do you remember your first “analytics experiment” or lightbulb moment?

Mohamed Mohamed (MM): I’d say the first analytics experiment I had was attempting to create my own expected goal model in the mid 2010s, albeit it never really went anywhere.

What has been your favourite piece to write or read on StatsBomb?

MM:This piece by Colin Trainor on Liverpool’s missed opportunity at winning the 2013-14 title. It was one of my first introductions to expected goals as a framework for analysis, and the piece logically went through how that season was found money for that Liverpool side (which ended up being true).

Whose work did you read early on? Where did you read this early work?

MM: James Yorke’s Premier League roundups were always a delight to read, a ton of interesting info packaged into a piece that didn’t feel like a slog to go through. The Premier League season previews were also great pieces. In terms of reading early work, StatsBomb, James Grayson’s blog, and whatever came across my timeline on Twitter (the last one remains true to this day).

Do you remember any particular articles that inspired you? Ideas or metrics or research?

MM: Total Shot Ratio walked so Expected Goals would eventually run. James Grayson’s work on TSR and PDO in the early 2010s through borrowing concepts from hockey analytics was very influential in establishing the importance of shot dominance on team results.

Are there any metrics/frameworks from the “early days” that you still use in your work now?

MM: Game States remains very useful both from a data driven and tactical point of view given how teams across all kinds of sports behave differently depending on the scoreboard. Team analysis should always account for performances during different game states.

Do you remember any particularly bad analytically-driven takes you had in the past, or work that you would approach differently knowing what you know now?

MM: The vast majority of my work has been about analyzing individual players, so from that standpoint, my biggest dud remains not seeing the forest for the trees when it came to Kylian Mbappe’s initial rise at Monaco.

Is there any piece of work that you're particularly proud of?

MM: On the site itself, this deep dive on Alexandre Lacazette’s evolution as a player is probably my favorite (other enjoyable ones were the collabs I did with Euan Dewar and Grace Robertson). Elsewhere? Probably the historical series I’ve done on my blog which often had next to no data available pre Opta era.

What are you most excited about in the future for football analytics?

MM: Continued work to further uncover the value of off-ball movement since it can’t fully be tracked through traditional event data. Off-ball playmakers don’t get enough credit for the space they create for others but hopefully that’ll change with further advances.


Our sincere thanks to Moe for giving up his time to share his experiences with us. You can find him on Twitter @MoeSquare.

We’ll be back later this week with more from the StatsBomb Originals series.

By StatsBomb | July 25, 2023