03 June 2011

Infographics – Leftovers

And we'll finish out the week with cold pizza: two revamps of old infographics.

The first barely counts as a graphic, so we'll get it out of the way quickly. As I explained last year, I don't always agree with how Opta/BBC/ESPN/whomever classifies assists. So, just to be pedantic, I call it "Goal Creation" in the graphic's headline. We all know I mean assist.

When the assist was debatable, it's marked with a superscript letter. These broke down into four categories: rebound or blocked shots, won penalties, won direct free kicks, and own goal assists. Basically, if a player got the penultimate attacking touch, I credit them. Some statisticians don't recognize penalties, most don't recognize direct free kicks, and rebound/blocked/deflected shots are subjective. So these are my subjective numbers.

Torres benefits most from the methodology, winning two penalties and the only free kick which led directly to a goal (Gerrard's equalizer at Old Trafford). There were more than double the amount of unassisted goals as last year. Gerrard's total unsurprisingly dropped precipitously in accordance with how much time he missed, Kuyt created twice as many goals, and Lucas had the exact same total in the exact same competitions.

If you want any more details why I gave an arguable assist, I'd be happy to answer in the comments.

The second graphic was concocted in the warm, wonderful afterglow of 2008-09, comparing when Liverpool scored to when Liverpool conceded. Didn't make one last year. No points for guessing why (hint: it's because that season was even more depressing than this one).

It's tough viewing compared to the 2008-09 version. Unsurprisingly, a team that finished four places lower and 28 points worse scored a lot fewer goals and conceded slightly more. 29 fewer and six more respectively, in fact. It's when they were or weren't scored or conceded which intrigues. The difference in goals tallied during the final 15 minutes is drastic, as is the difference in those conceded after half-time.

Liverpool were simply exceptional after the 75th minute in '08-09. A majority of late goals just widened the gap, but 11 gave Liverpool the lead while seven leveled the score. In the last 15 minutes this season, Liverpool took the lead in five games and equalized in just two. In theory, that's a difference of 17 points right there ("in theory" because three of this season's six "comebacks" came in the Europa League).

As for the goals conceded directly after the interval, it's easily explained by the previous manager. 10 of those 14 came on his watch. His half-time adjustments and team talks must have been as inspiring as his post-match press conferences. Otherwise, Liverpool scored and conceded a handful more at the start of games, and conceded fewer during the middle stages of either half.

More early goals? Fewer late goals scored? More late goals conceded? Best matches under Hodgson (West Ham, Aston Villa, Chelsea) and Dalglish (United, City, Birmingham, Fulham) started with an early onslaught coming good? All this suggests Benitez's methodical crushing machine has become a flat-track sprinter.

Goals For Goals Against
Already Ahead 28 12
Go-Ahead Goal 36 25
Equalizer 9 12
Still Behind 4 3

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