Tuesday 24 January 2012

Manchester City 3 Tottenham 2,Balotelli's Penalty Kick and an Imaginary Red Card.

Manchester City 3 Tottenham 2.

Anyone who found themselves stuck in a queue for an early second half pie and then decided to beat the rush at the end could have missed every beat of the action in this enthralling title eliminator (for Spurs at least).A quick glance at the Expected Points graph for the game soon pin points where the incidents fell,as Man City quickly took control of the likely points haul and then almost as quickly handed most of their gains straight back to their visitors.


Spurs' Expected Points total had just crept slowly past the one point they were tenaciously hanging on to in the 56th minute,when first Nasri and then Lescott drove the Londoners total into the ground.Defoe's immediate response was quickly followed by the kind of breathtaking strike that is becoming mere common place from Bale and ten minutes after the mayhem began,the teams were back on level terms with Spurs ten minutes nearer to a hoped for point.

Although he started on the bench,the game's remaining major talking points inevitably revolved around Balotelli.To start with his least controversial contribution.He's sent tumbling by King in the 94th minutes just as the game is expiring and typically picks himself up to score the game's winning goal.Just prior to the foul,Spurs' Expected Points total was 0.9999,as near to 1 as you can get,but allowing for that faint chance that they were slightly more likely to concede a late,late winning goal in the seconds that remained than were their opponents.Similarly,City's Expected Points were a shade above one.As the referee awards the kick,Spurs see their EP plummet,but not all the way to zero,there's still around a 25% chance that the kick will be saved or even that it will be scored and they'll storm down the other end a grab a dramatic second equaliser in the seconds that remain.But because it's Mario taking the kick,you just know he'll score and City will hold on....and they do.

How the Game Changed in the 94th minute.

 Inevitably nothing is simple where Balotelli is concerned.Many thought at the time that he shouldn't have been around to win and take the decisive kick.Having been already booked during his short time on the pitch he then appeared to stamp on Parker after 84 minutes.At the time the referee decided it was accidental and certainly Mancini wasn't to be seen brandishing an imaginary red card on touchline.Balotelli himself was quick to apologise to Parker,indicating he simply lost his balance,in retrospect one of the Italian's smarter reactions given that the Football Association have since deemed the stamp intentional and banned him for four games.

How a Balotelli Red Card would have changed the Game.

Tottenham were naturally furious,although possibly significantly not in the immediate aftermath of the incident.Maybe like Parker they were simply stunned.But a quick look at the alternative reality shows that despite Balotelli inflicting real and actual harm to Spurs' title chances 10 minutes later,the game was at such an advanced stage that even if the Italian had been sent off,the respective Expected Points totals for each team wouldn't have changed much.If Harry thought Spurs would have taken a point against 10 man City,he should also recognise that they were almost as likely to take that point against a full strength City that late in the contest.Poor defending was a bigger contributor to Spurs returning south empty handed ,than poor refereeing.

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