Wednesday 6 February 2013

A Tale Of Three Draws.

This post relates to three games played last mid week, but it also serves the purpose of introducing a way to add context to a single match scoreline, particularly in terms of how long teams are behind, in front or level during a single match. Look out for a (very) quick follow up post.

Football cliche met football myth over the recent series of weekday Premiership matches as various teams relinquished or surrendered that most dangerous of two goal leads. It is certainly rare for a team to fail to see out a two goal advantage and rarer still for three games out of a ten match Premiership schedule to feature such comebacks. But rare events do occur and sometimes they clump together.


1-0, Shawcross, 23'
2-0, Crouch, 48'
2-1, McArthur, 51'
2-2, D Santo, 61'


0-1, Suarez, 5'
0-2, Henderson, 61'
1-2, Giroud, 65'
2-2, Walcott, 67'


0-1, Mata, 45'
0-2, Lampard, 66'
1-2, L Fondre, 87'
2-2, L Fondre, 90+4'

The expected points graphs above, show the magnitude of the task faced by first Wigan, then Arsenal and finally and most improbably, Reading. Chelsea were the strongest favourites of the three teams which took a two goal lead and the lateness of Reading's response meant that their in running expected points total had almost disappeared off the foot of the chart and still remained tiny even after Le Fondre's first strike in the 87th minutes.

Three points for a win compared to just one point for a draw, invariably makes the trailing side appear as "winners", even though the spoils are shared and much of the good work of the teams which scored first is forgotten in the dramatic excitement of the comeback.

Stoke lead Wigan for 42 minutes at the Britannia, Chelsea led Reading for 50 minutes and Liverpool gave their supporters real hope of taking all three points for over an hour. And it will be the supporters of those three teams who probably viewed the final stalemate with most disappointment. We can quantify the in running match situation by crediting the time spent leading to each team and also sharing between opponents the time spent at level terms.

Team. Time Spent Leading. Time Spent Drawing. In Running Success Rate.
Stoke v 42' 55' 0.72
Wigan. 0 55' 0.28
Arsenal v 0 32' 0.16
Liverpool. 65' 32' 0.84
Reading v 0 47' 0.24
Chelsea. 50' 47' 0.75

Liverpool had the highest "in running" success rate at 0.84, so the draw and the loss of two points at full time was probably more keenly felt on Mersyside than in the Potteries, where Stoke only lead for 42' in recording a success rate of 0.72.

It is tempting to consider drawn games as evenly fought contests, where the spoils are rightfully shared. But as these three rather extreme example show, often one team holds the advantage for a considerable portion of the game. Match situation can often determine how sides approach the remainder of the contest and this can have implications for stats, such as where and how effectively teams make their passes. In a follow up post, I'll use in running success rates for individual matches to see if such figures can help us to better understand pass completion rates and help to explain why trailing sides sometimes become much better at passing the ball.

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