Tuesday 20 January 2015

Cyborgs & Other Stories


What is a cyborg?

What do they look like?


What do they look like with the human skin cover?

Scary. And Chelsea have quite a few of these guys!

The graphic below contains the 34 Premier League players who have played over 90% of the available minutes in 14/15. The list contains a ton of defenders (19/34) but the really juicy bit of info is that list contains SIX Chelsea players. Southampton have 4 players on that list, no other team has more than 2 players.

Health matters. It matters even more if the players that stay healthy also happen to be your core guys on the team. This health allows for some continuity in selection for key areas of the field - 3/4's of Chelsea's back four is on this list as is 3/4's of their midfield.

Cyborgs, man. Amazingly talented, injury-proof Cyborgs.

Cyborg Graphic

Manchester City Injuries

As mentioned, Chelsea are not just a ridiculously healthy club but they have benefited from consistent contributions from their core players. Manchester City, whilst not exactly injury-riddled, have not been able to lean on their core group to the same extent Chelsea have. 

Yaya Toure leads the club with 76.9% of the minutes played (top%), Gael Clichy is in 2nd place, Demichelis is 3rd, Jesus Navas is 4th, and Pablo Zabaleta rounds out the top 5. That list contains good players, but aside from the imperious Toure it looks nothing like the kind of core group that a team can rely on. (Manchester City Minutes LINK)

Chelsea's core 6 have played 93.8% of the Premier League minutes available. Manchester City's core of Zabaleta, Kompany, Toure, Silva, Nasri and Aguero have played just 66.2% of the Premier League minutes available.

Points is: Injuries and absences matter. Most Premier League teams have enough depth to cope with a certain amount of injuries but significant injuries to the core of a team can impact on performance and outcomes. And it would be silly to suggest that Manchester City haven't been impacted by the injuries to core players.

A question: If Manchester City's core 6 had played 93% of the available minutes where are they in the table? How many points do they have? How many pundits would be talking about a great City team instead of fawning over the 'invincibles'?

The Core, As A Gang Of Four

Anyone remember this?
If I am not mistaken I think around 45 minutes was added to that total on the final day of the 13/14 season. Still, it is a pitifully low number of minutes and Manchester City, quite simply, cannot rely on their very best players to be available for selection on a consistent basis.

Now, if we remove Nasri and Zabaleta and say that Manchester City's core contains just Kompany, Toure, Silva and Aguero wouldn't be interesting to see how many minutes these guys have played together in the Premier League this season?

504 minutes or 24.5% of the minutes available.

Chelsea's Core:

Minutes played by this Chelsea core 4? 1521 minutes or 76.8% of the minutes available.

Yaya Toure

For all the talk in the previous point about the impact of injury to Manchester City's core, it is becoming clearer to some that the most important player for the club may well be Yaya Toure. 

Much maligned at the start of the season due to the ludicrously named Cake-Gate episode, Toure started the season sluggishly, misplacing passes, lacking spark, and most importantly for those media types, Toure's goal scoring rate had dried up from its unsustainable 13/14 level.

Despite his dip in form and some early signs of slowing in his game, Toure remains the most important Manchester City player in my opinion. And the Arsenal result hasn't hastened the author to reach the conclusion. Some tweets from over the Xmas period:

And this:

A 'controller' is probably the most accurate way that I can describe the man who Manchester City miss so much when he is unavailable. Toure controls play from deep: he is an outlet pass option for defenders under the press, he is the link between the defense and the Silvas and Nasris of the world and most importantly he is the deep creator when Manchester City have the ball around the oppositions 18 yard box. Toure is City's unflappable quarterback.

He is not a player without faults, though. Toure can be suspect defensively, he can fail to track his man, he can be lethargic in the checking back but how much of this matters when in the context of the usual City game? In most games City's opponents have around 40% of the possession and only about half of that opposition possession will be in areas where Toure's suspect defensive work can be exposed. 

Complaints about Toure's defensive work are valid but those concerns occur relatively infrequently and when they are placed against all the crucial linking and attacking skills that Toure displays for the majority of games a sensible person is likely to come to the conclusion that Yaya Toure is the vital player for Manchester City.

Good Lucky Matrix

Green=Top 4. Red=Relegation. Size=Points
The further right a team is the higher their share of the shots on target. 
The higher a team is the higher their PDO is (PDO = scoring% + Save%)


Everton have taken 50% of the shots and 57% of the shots on target so why only the 23 points from 22 games? Their keepers can't make a damn save! 

Everton have conceded the 5th fewest shots on target (link) with only Chelsea, Stoke, Man City and Southampton having conceded fewer. The problem: of those 74 shots on target conceded Everton have allowed 34 goals. That leads to a pitiful 54% save%, which is way below average. 


Save% is just one of the issues troubling Everton and their increasingly beleaguered manager, Roberto Martinez, but this is a team that takes 57% of the shots on target and scores just 46.9% of the goals. 

The evil, oft-hated PDO is always the reason for the gap between SoTR and PDO - be it luck or systems. But right now the manager killing PDO is crippling this Everton team. Thing is, Save% and PDO have history with Martinez and not the good kind of history.

2 points in 6 games. 1 win in 10 games.



Race For The Top 4

Ronaldo & Messi

Goals, assists & Points (goals+assists) on a game by game basis.

Goals on the x axis, assists on the y axis, Points indicated by the size of the bubble.

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