As the international break puts a brake on the fixtures at hand in the domestic competition, despite just matchday 4 being completed in the Premier League, it’s already been a tough outlook for some teams while for some other teams have delved on insights to slowly improve on many of their pre-season trends.
And this break helps not only the teams to get into it, but also us to take a look at what Data says 4 matchweeks into the season:
Exploring Field Tilt and Expected Threat Against:
Pic 1: PL Field Tilt % vs Expected Threat Against
Field Tilt % is a very useful metric to understand a team’s ability to control the ball more than regular metrics like possession. Field Tilt essentially tells us about the share of possession on an average in the final 3rd, while our 2nd metric, the expected threat against (xTA), takes into account the average threat conceded against teams.
It’s very interesting to note that Chelsea in the early few games stand alongside sides like Manchester City and Arsenal, 2 teams that were expected to maintain bigger field tilt % and also have low Expected threat against (xTA is adjusted high to low for better representation).
Everton there would come a surprise, but that position signifies how Sean Dyche has done a massive job on the defensive ends of things. Manchester United’s & Liverpool’s problems to control the games are reciprocated equally on the graph above, while Andoni Iraola‘s Bournemouth have a decent field tilt, looks like they need to sort out their problems defensively.
Nottingham Forest are positioned in a way that frustrates me personally, they have a team that can exert control and yet they have a very poor field tilt – although that could also be down to the teams Steve Cooper has faced in Arsenal, United, & Chelsea in the first four fixtures, two of them are about percentile on these spectrum.
Falling on the opposite spectrum, West Ham and Sheffield United maintain poor field tilt % and consequently are also the teams that have conceded maximum threat, these underlying numbers perhaps doesn’t suggest the best outcome for them atleast with current data going forward.
The Standout Players w.r.t. Various Metrics:
Pic 2: Progressive Actions vs Recoveries Per90 Basis
When we analyze on a Per90 Basis for midfielders that made the most actions to progress the ball against Ball recoveries made, both Enzo Fernandez and Idrissa Gueye stand out on the opposite spectrums with the Argentine talent of Chelsea being far ahead of everyone as a progressor and Gueye being the midfield general for Everton that’s recovered the ball most in the first 4 matchdays.
Thomas Partey comes to highlight here, looks like he is been taking that inverted right-back role well despite sounds of frustration from fans, and that could also be one of the case why his progressive actions stand out.
An interesting one is that Kovacic’s position, he is playing a defensive role with Rodri given more license to roam forward – although the recoveries by Rodri are much more than Kovacic and the progressive actions of the Croat is much higher then that of the Spaniard. Need to keep an eye on this going into the next run of matchdays.
The Tottenham duo of Yves Bissouma and Pape Matar Sarr are closely positioned at just over the equilibrium mark, comfirming the brilliant work they are doing as a pivot in that Ange Postecoglou‘s side.
Pic 3: Non-Penalty Expected Goals vs Expected Assists Per90
When we look at the Non-Penalty Expected Goals and Expected assists on a Per90 basis, Brighton’s Kauro Mitoma and Evan Ferguson stand out on both spectrums severally, while Kevin Mbeumo’s lonely as the player that’s shown considerable statistically with respect to both metrics.
Looking more closely, the Wolverhampton Wanderers’ duo of Pedro Neto and Pablo Sarabia stand higher in that xA zone which directly co-relates to the brilliant work Gary O’Neil has been doing down at Molineux Stadium. But that also depicts how they need a good finisher at hand with Fabio Silva and Matheus Cunha doing decent in their xG per 90.
A Zonewise Observation of Players
Pic 5: Zonewise Passing leaders Matchweek 4
By the end of Matchweek 4, it provided some very interesting insight into how certain zones occupied by players of various teams function.
Let’s take the case of Ben White of Arsenal who topped the most successful passes from the high end of the right flank, and provides an insight into his role against Ma United, while Enzo Fernandez’s role at Chelsea slowly sees him being their most advanced creator, a testament to topping Zone 14 (central space) and both halfspace regions.
Moreover, Tottenham’s defensive duo of Cristian Romero & Mickey van de Ven topping on the passes around that defensive zone confirms how good Spurs are getting in building from the back. While Bart Verbruggen has only played two games of four and yet stands out in successful passes – Roberto de Zerbi‘s Brighton are doing wonders on the build-up and looks like Bart is just the guy for them.
Small sample sizes can be often volatile hence there’s never a guarantee trends observed can stay the same or keep changing. But some of the promise data shows for certain teams is very useful in understanding where they stand, what they can improve upon as season goes.