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Has Statistical Analysis Changed the EPL?

2010 November 25
by Skip Sauer

Here’s Arsene Wenger, via Duncan White  in the Telgraph:

“What the statistics have done, is that they have kicked out of the game all the players who cannot run. Suddenly the English level is much higher. You play against a team and you know it.”Where Wenger has really noticed the improvement in the Premier League’s middle-ranking teams has been at the end of games. Over the years, he had grown used to watching the opposition fade dramatically at the end of games as chasing Arsenal’s passes left them exhausted. Now teams can play at high intensity right up to the whistle.

“Before you would play a team and know that in the last 20 minutes they would be dead,” he said. “That does not exist anymore. The physical demands are very, very high and that provokes of course an adjustment of the mental. You must find somewhere else to make the difference.”

All clubs now have access to ProZone data, in which they can track to quite a sophisticated degree not just how far players run in games but the types of runs they are making. The fitter players are the better they will be able to concentrate and therefore make fewer errors.

The testable implication is a decline in the number of late, game-deciding goals scored by the bigger, previously fitter clubs.  And perhaps a tendency for their rivals to pull it off themselves.  What’s the evidence on that?

2 Responses
  1. Greg Pinelli permalink
    November 26, 2010

    All of this stuff has been even in the Youth ranks for years! What’s changed isn’t statistics or statistical analysis but Coaching. The “old” Premier League was narrow minded man-up bunch where how hard you banged was more important than how fit and well trained you were.

    The modern Coach in the Premier League will simply get run down to the first or second division playing that kind of football….and out of a job. Wenger is simply stating the obvious.

  2. Nick permalink
    December 3, 2010

    Same 3 clubs at the top this season suggests that not too much has really changed.

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