Monday 20 August 2012

Tracking YaYa Toure's Acute Accent.

The best game of the opening week of the Premiership season, pre supposing that Manchester United and Everton don't reenact last year's 4-4 draw, took place at the Etihad Stadium were City continued their love affair with 3-2, come from behind victories against inferior opposition.

How Success Rates Fluctuated For Both Teams at The Etihad Stadium.

0-0,Penalty awarded to Man City, 17'
0-0,Penalty missed by Silva,17'

The descriptive nuts and bolts of the match will be well described throughout the blogging community, so I'll
merely add of few observations. City were unsurprisingly huge pre game favourites with around a 80% chance of winning and an expected combined success rate that includes a draw as half a win of just under 0.9.

The penalty award moved their expected success rate to over 0.93, but Silva's tame effort dropped it back again. The highest expected success rate that new boys, Southampton attained was 0.66 when they led 2-1 after 71 minutes, immediately prior to Dzeko's equaliser. A position comparable to that enjoyed by City ten minutes later when they merely drew level at 2-2, indicating the long term potency of superior ability combined with home advantage even in time limiting situations.

In this post I introduce a way to track each team's in game satisfaction with the current scoreline and how their position is likely to alter the balance between attacking intent and defensive responsibilities.

Games States For Manchester City v Southampton.

Each team's pre game expected success rate is used as their benchmark figure and as the game progresses the difference between what they, on average initially hoped to take from the game and what the current score/time remaining combination indicates they may take from the game is charted. Plots below the zero line indicate an under performance and this is quantified by the length of the bar.

For example, 30 minutes in and with the game still 0-0, Manchester City are underperforming because they are strong favourites to win. However, the relatively short green bar reassuringly for their fans indicates that their is still a considerable amount of time remaining during which City are very likely to be able to turn their superior skills into a win. Contrast this green, City bar at 30 minutes with the much larger negative one at 80, just prior to Nasri's winner. The game is again tied, but now time constraints mean that City have much less time to impose their talent on Southampton and claim all three points.

It's probable that Southampton are happy at this point, 10 minutes left and currently in possession of a point, so we can guess that Southampton will be concentrating on defence, City more so on attack. Once City retake the lead their current expected position then becomes stronger than their pre game expectations, denoted by their green line flipping to above the axis. Time to adopt a more defensive approach, perhaps ?

Overall City's match satisfaction plots for the Southampton game can be broken down into four distinct periods. One of slight under expectation, but with ample time for class to tell prior to Tevez's opening goal. (The positive blip at 17' was transient and as a result of the award of the subsequently missed spot kick).The most substantial period of City under expectation ran from Lambert's equaliser up until Nasri's winner, sandwiched between were two periods where City's expectation over shoots their pre match expectation.

Fourfourtwo's stats app provides an excellent way to track a team's tactical approach over time by collecting  both the average position and the extent to which players are involved in game events and denoting this involvement by the size and position of each player's name on a 12 by 6 cm pitch grid. Yaya Toure is a hugely influential City midfielder, he has managed to retain my complete admiration for his abilities despite scoring the winning FA Cup Final goal against Stoke. So he must be very good indeed.

If we use 442's app to trace Toure's involvement and position during the four different periods of expectation "enjoyed" by City and their supporters on Sunday, we can use the results as a reasonable proxy for City's overall approach. I've settled on the position and size of the acute accent at the end of Yaya's name as my reference point.

Influence & Pitch Position of Yaya Toure During the Four Phases of Manchester City's Game with Southampton.

Game Period Average Distance from Southampton Goal.  Average Distance Left of Centre Spot. Average Length of Acute Accent.
Kick Off to 40'. 31.6 4.9 1.5
41' to 59'. 25.9 1.2 1.5
60' to 80' . 16.3 4.9 2
81' to Full Time. 54.6 14.8 0.05

Game periods when City's expected success rate was below the pre game figure are marked in red and in blue when they were on target for all three points. All distances are in yards.

Yaya is significantly more involved in the areas around Southampton's goal during the 20 minutes when the visitors were either level or ahead and City's potential average returns were well below expectations. The size of of his influence on the game is also at it's greatest during this period. Had his name been etched on the pitch in relation to his involvement his acute accent would have measured almost 2 yards! He was extremely influential and attack orientation when City needed those qualities more than ever.

Once City regain the upper hand following Nasri's goal, Toure's accent drops back to a position very nearly on halfway line and adopts a much wider position. His influence also declines dramatically, illustrating that the final ten minutes became very much more a team effort.

In short, Manchester City's approach to the game ebbed and flowed over the 90+ minutes, but how they prioritized attacking intent was very much dependent upon the state of the game and that reflects in Toure's sphere of influence and by inference, City's granular attacking stats such as goal attempts and final third passes. Context again is hugely influential when analysising the statistics.

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