Monthly Archives: January 2015

Arsenal playing the FA cup

Can Arsenal win the Premier League?

Arsenal’s Theo Walcott believes that they “can compete for anything this season”. I read this yesterday on ESPN but it’s not the first time in the last few weeks that one of the Gunners claim that they can win any title. Just after defeating Manchester City 10 days ago, Aaron Ramsay said that they still can win the Premier League.

It’s good to see such optimism, but the truth is that they are 5th and they are 15 points away from Chelsea. I had a look to the Premier League historical data to find out if any team in the last few years won the competition having such a big gap at this point of the season. The answer is no…but some got pretty damn close.

In the season 1997-1998, after 22 games played, Manchester United was leading and Arsenal was 11 point away from the top. At the end of the season, Gunners won the League.

Two years earlier, in 1995-1996, a similar situation happened involving Manchester United and Newcastle, but this time the results was favourable for the Red Devils.

If you want to take a look to the data, I’ve put together a Tableau visualisation. I got the data from but I had some problems to order it. As not all the teams play at the same time, you will notice that the “matchday” table may have some variations in the number of matches. This happens because it only shows when the local team reaches the number of games played that you selected.

Joe Hart

Who is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League?

Who is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League? Thibaut Courtois conceded fewer goals than any other stopper in the competition, but does that mean that he is the best or is it just that Chelsea’s defence is exceptional?

There are several metrics we could use to assess the performance of a stopper. The percentage of shots saved, the number of clean sheets, how many minutes it takes to score and  the goals allowed per game.

Different indicators show different results. If we consider the percentage of shots saved, Sunderland’s ‘keeper, Costel Pantilimon, gets the highest score. He only played the last 11 games because the main goalkeeper at the beginning of the season was Vito Mannone. Given that Mannone only stopped 68% of the shots and Pantilimon 80%, clearly it was a change for the better.

Pantilimon and Fraser Forster (Southampton) share the lead for the percentage of clean sheets. In 45% of their games, they finished unbeaten.

But, if we take a look to other metrics, particularly those that refer to the number of goals conceded, the results differ. Fraser Forster is the keeper with the most number of minutes between goals. It takes 120 minutes to beat him. He is followed by Joe Hart from Manchester City (108 minutes) and David De Gea from Manchester United (90 minutes). Pantilimon is some distance from that as he concedes a goal every 76 minutes.

Who is the best goalkeeper for you?


Norwegian flag

Norwegians place more bets on the Premier League than the Brits

In a previous post I mentioned that a popular sports betting website shared some data with us. We kept digging into the numbers and we found some interesting stuff. We all know that the Premier League is one of the most popular football competitions in the entire world. But who do you expect to be the nation that place more bets on the Premier League? The Brits, right? Well, according to the data we have it’s Norway. On average, each Norwegian placed 10 bets on the Premier League, compared to the 4 placed by people in the UK.

This data is quite interesting, but it only includes one bookmark, so we cannot consider it 100% reliable.

Diego Costa

Is it worth to pay millions for a striker?

Every summer British football clubs spend massive amounts of money to get new players for their teams. Usually, the highest sums are paid for strikers. But, is it worth it to pay millions of pounds for just one player? We compared the transfer fees of the 3 most expensive strikers signed in 2014 with the number of goals they scored to see if they were good value for money. The results, in the chart below.


How much do people spend on football betting?

How much money do people spend on betting? What are the countries that spend the most? This information is not very easy to find but, luckily, a popular sports betting website shared with us a dataset they collected between July and October last year. This is not a perfect way of measuring the betting market, but it can give us a taste of people’s behaviour.

This bookmaker company is based in the United Kingdom so it makes sense that the majority of their customers are British. Only a 20% of the users come from overseas, but the interesting fact is that this group of foreigners bet more money than the Brits. If you have a look to the chart above, you will see that Norwegian, Swedish, Irish and German players spend more money on average than the British. The difference is particularly high compared to Norway, with the Scandinavians spending 2,086 euros (about £1650) more during this 3 months period.


Messi and Chelsea’s mistakes signing strikers

Is Messi going to move to the Premier League? Is he secretly negotiating his transfer to Chelsea? His disagreements with Barcelona’s coach Luis Enrique are well-known. Some people are even speculating that he might have given an ultimatum to the president of the club: “Luis Enrique or me”. He said that rumours talking about negotiations with Chelsea are ‘all lies’ but during the Ballon d’Or ceremony he reopened the speculations about his future after saying ‘I don’t know where I’ll be next year. Things can change’

Sadly, we cannot use data to verify these kind of rumours so, we had a look to what we already know. Abramovich’s Chelsea doesn’t hesitate to pay ridiculous amounts of money for players that will secure Chelsea’s leadership. You know, like with Fernando Torres.

The truth is that many times that Chelsea hired a superstar that was supposed to be a deal breaker for the team, they end up being a massive failure.

This chart shows the performance 5 most expensive strikers signed during the Abramovich’s era. The conclusions are not…satisfactory.

Torres, Shevchenko and Hazard only scored once every 3 games. In the case of Shevchenko each goal scored for Chelsea costed more than 2 million pounds. Between these 5 strikers, only Drogba has a decent performance.

Can you imagine Messi signing for Chelsea and having a record similar to Torres or Shevchenko?



Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo voted for Ramos, Germans vote for Germans and other Ballon d’Or oddities

Cristiano Ronaldo won his second Ballon d’Or (TWOOOOOOO!) by a very large margin. He got more than twice as many points as Messi, who was almost relegated to a third position after reaching only 14 points more than Manuel Neuer. Ronaldo and Messi didn’t vote for each other, a tradition started by the Portuguese in 2010, but Real Madrid’s striker received the support of 429 out of the 528 captains, coaches and journalists that were entitled to vote. That’s an 81% of the total.

How many people voted for Ronaldo and Messi?


But who the hell didn’t vote for Ronaldo?

The Germans. And they didn’t vote for Messi either. Germans only voted for Germans. Player, coach and journalist gave their support to Manuel Neuer in the first place and to Philipp Lahmn, Thomas Mueller and Bastian Schweinsteiger for the rest of the positions.

The German vote


But this wasn’t enough to make Germany the country with the most votes

If we sum all the votes achieved by the players of each nation, we will also see a Portuguese victory despite of being Ronaldo the only player from the Southern European country. Germany, on the other hand, had 6 players nominated to the award, the highest among all the participant countries. The other World Cup finalist, Argentina, holds the second place with 3 players nominated: Messi, Di Maria and Mascherano, who, by the way, was nominated as best player in the world by England’s national team manager Roy Hodgson. An opinion shared by Belarus coach Andrei Zygmantovitch but by anybody else.

Point achieved and players nominated per country


Sergio Ramos was the biggest loser of the Ballon d’Or

British media had a lot of fun talking about Roy Hodgson voting for Mascherano, but it wasn’t the oddest choice. Cristiano Ronaldo voted for his team mate Sergio Ramos as the best player in the world. In fact, the rest of Ronaldo’s votes also went for his felow Real Madrid players, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema. The funny thing is that Cristiano’s first choice didn’t get support from anyone. At least, Hodgson’s choice got the support from the Belarus coach!

Sergio Ramos was the nominee with the least number of points but, to be fair, Ronaldo wasn’t the only one who voted for him. A few players and coaches voted him for the second and third place, like his team mate Iker Casillas or the Spanish managers Vicente del Bosque and Benito Floro.



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