Sunday, 12 February 2012

Sunderland 1 Arsenal 2.Henry Proves His Worth.

If yesterday's cameo performance from Thierry Henry does indeed prove to be his last final appearance for the Gunners,he will have departed on the kind of triumphal note that ran through his earlier,more prolonged time in North London.It will also vindicate the decision by Wenger to recall the ageing superstar and more importantly validate the conclusion in this earlier post.The title of our earlier post was "Thierry Henry.A Deal Well Done?" and it speculated that the decline in scoring prowess that happens in all prolific scorers had occurred later than normal in the case of Henry,making him potentially a very good short term acquisition.Two 90th minutes EPL goals in barely a game's worth of playing time,along with an FA cup winner against Leeds means that we are fully justified in removing the "?" from the original post.His two goals in four appearances was pretty close to our projected rate of two goals from every five games...but claiming too much credit for the prediction would break this site's Prime Directive.Namely that small sample sizes are greatly down to luck,but at least we were on the correct side of the debate.

It's much more interesting to speculate on whether Arsenal delighted their accountants by making a profit on the deal and to do this we'll try to put a price tag on each of Henery's EPL strikes.The first one came against Blackburn in the 90th minute of a 7-1 romp and added precisely nothing to Arsenal's win probability,but it's his goal at the Stadium of Light that has potential to make big returns.

Sunderland 1 Arsenal 2 Win Probability Graph.


A fairly drab looking graph suddenly came to life in the 70th minute when McClean put his side in front for the second successive Saturday.Ramsey's leveller five minutes later restored the near parity of the previous three quarters of the match,but a late tie breaker always causes massive swings in Expected Points and Henry provided one a minute into stoppage time.

If we look closer at the actual figures,just prior to Henry's late winner Arsenal would expect to average just under 1.13 Expected Points from such a match.Come the goal and that jumped to 2.85 EP.So Henry's goal was worth about 1.72 EPs.A more useful way of looking at this situation is to add the Expected Points pre and post the Henry goal to the points Arsenal had already gained this season and divide by their 25 games played to see what their average points per game total would look like in both situations.Before Henry's goal Arsenal were averaging 1.645 points per game,after the goal that figure jumps to 1.709.

Our next step is to estimate the EPL finishing position for teams with these points per games total.Arsenal won't realistically finish out of the top ten so I've plotted the points per game totals and the finishing positions of the EPL teams from 2000 onwards for the top half of the table.

Finishing Positions and Points per Game for the EPL 2000-2010.

 The line of best fit for Arsenal pre the 91st minute goal predicts an average finishing position of 5.4.After Henry's leaving present Arsenal find that they have become a likely 1.71 points per game side and their predicted finishing position rises to 4.8.On 2010/11 numbers the prize money for fourth,fifth and sixth ranged from £12.85 million to £11.34 million and if we perform a crude division of funds we can calculate the end of season winnings.A team with an average finishing position of 5.4th would bag £11.8 million in prize funds compared to £12.25 million with an average finishing place of 4.8th.

So if we want to try to quantify the unquantifiable,namely an injury time winner where fan delight rockets off the scale,we can say that it was potentially worth almost half a million pounds.Whether he stays or goes,Henry has certainly proved that he still has Va Va Voom.....and he threw in a cup run for free.

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