Sunday 1 November 2015

Jamie Vardy's Eight in a Row, an Expected Rarity?

According to the Mirror's powerful advanced scoring metric (goals/games), Jamie Vardy is currently outperforming Messi and Ronaldo, both separately and combined. Heady days indeed for the Premiership's latecomer.

Vardy has also maintained the slightly more impressive feat of now scoring in eight consecutive Premiership matches, since he drew a blank in the selectively chosen cutoff point of week three's encounter with Spurs.

He's had 46 attempts at goal, ranging from a high of ten in the game at Southampton to drawing a blank in the week two trip to West Ham.

A basic goal expectation model that uses shot type and location suggests that a typical Premier league player would score around 8 goals from the opportunities that Vardy has had. So 11 for an out and out striker doesn't suggest an excessive over performance. 

He's also required the keeper to make 20 attempted saves compared to an expected 19 goal bound attempts for a typical EPL player presented with Vardy's opportunities.

My basic goal expectation model can replace Vardy with an average Premiership finisher and allow him the guile and foresight to create or have created for him the 39 post Spurs opportunities, spread out in the manner experienced by Vardy. 

In this scenario, at least one goal in each of the ensuing eight matches occurs around once in a hundred trials. So it's an impressive looking start.

However, in theory, there are 31 runs of 8 consecutive games in a single 38 game season and there have been 24 completed Premiership seasons up to last season (some with more than 38 games). In addition, each of the 20 sides could potentially have a main striker who might emulate Vardy's volume of goal attempts. 

So opportunity abounds for this 1 in a 100 feat to be completed.

Using these baseline probabilities combined with the number of opportunities to score in eight consecutive matches available to a Premier League striker since 1992, you might expect it to have occurred about 150 times.

There are though situations that will drive this likely number of times a player scores in 8 consecutive games much lower. 

18 of the 50 most successful penalty takers in Premier League history were strikers, so attackers predominate as penalty takers, but not excessively so. And two of Vardy's goals in his consecutive run have come from 12 yards. If he played in a team with Ray Stewart at full back, he likely wouldn't have had these two very high value opportunities to score included in his impressive run of scoring. 

Injury also hasn't yet broken Vardy's run of consecutive matches and neither has squad rotation or suspension, although it may soon do so if he also maintains his rate at which he collects yellow cards. 

If we chuck these events into the mix, the 150 baseline occurrences of 8 consecutive scores become more scarce. Whether the winnowing takes the figure down to three (van Nistelrooy and Sturridge being the only other two to reach at least 8) is open to speculation.

But the feat is undoubtedly a rarity for Jamie Vardy, but slightly less of one for the Premier League.

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