Thursday, 27 October 2011

Game of the (Mid) Week,Blackburn v Newcastle.

Blackburn 4-3 Newcastle (AET).

If your idea of fun is lots of goals and a fair prospect of an encore or two then the Carling Cup is the place to be.Usually over 20% of the games go to extra time,if not penalties and therefore the average number of  non shootout goals you'll see is comfortably over 3.The competition's restricted to the 92 EPL and Football League clubs,so there's no non league presence to widen the competitive gap between teams,but it's a lesser competition than the FA Cup so managers do delve deeper into their team's roster of players.With over a fifth of the games extending half an hour past 90 minutes,tiredness can become a factor.It's hard to remember a manager who's been sacked for getting eliminated from the Carling Cup in it's many guises,so substitutions tend to be of an attacking nature.

Obviously,there aren't any points up for grabs in knockout football,so I've plotted success probability as opposed to expected points.Success Probability (SP) is the probability that a team will win a game plus half the probability that a team will draw a game from any chosen point in the game.

Success Probability Graph for Blackburn v Newcastle.


I'll leave the gripes and groans about the penalties that were,weren't,should and should not have been given to the sites who specialise in match reports.Suffice to say a game that enters the 90th minute with the home team and slight match favourite leading 2-0 and ends up requiring an extra half hour to decide the outcome is a very rare beast indeed.

9955 times out of 10,000 the homes fans will be savouring a victory within the next couple of minutes,only 44 times will they be cursing a dropped two points or contemplating extra time.Just once will they actually lose there and then.The graph illustrates how Newcastle were fighting to overcome the likely odds for almost all of the regulation 90 minutes and it was after Pardew's triple,attacking substitution that they came closest to over hauling Blackburn in the probability stakes.Any Geordie's who left just before the final whistle and failed to follow the game on the drive home,wouldn't have been surprised to hear that their team lost,but would have been amazed to see it was by the odd goal in seven.

In drama,if not importance the game mirrors Man City's Wembley comeback in the playoff final against Tony Pulis' Gillingham around a decade ago.2-0 down entering injury time the current Premiership leaders repeated Newcastle's feat by scoring two late,late goals to take the match into overtime,the first of Manchester's goals coming just after the Gills' keeper had been named man of the match.

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