Wednesday, 6 March 2013

"The Sky 4"... Not Anymore....

The top of the PL (the top 4) used to be one of the most exclusive clubs in football, in fact it was so exclusive that for the most part, only 4 clubs (with the odd exception) ever were allowed in...

Over the years, predominantly through Martin Jol and Harry Redknapp's reign we have threatened to gatecrash this club (we did it a couple of season's back)... One of the biggest problems is that two of its "current" incumbents will stop at nothing short of spending whatever it takes to stay there (Chelsea & Man City for those not keeping up)... Another, Man Utd, take their place every season (no questions asked!! - this is a tongue in cheek remark)...

So with in effect 1 place up for grabs between Arsenal (serial members), Spurs (new kids on the block), Liverpool (former annual members who have fallen on hard times) and Everton (one time members) it is getting tougher and tougher to qualify (gain membership)...

With that in mind and knowing how (in my mind at least) we have closed the gap on our London rivals from the West and South, I thought I would have a look back over the last 9 years (in groups of 3 years) since Arsenal last won the PL and see how the gap has closed... 

The tables below show 2004/05 to 2006/07, 2007/08 to 2009/10 and 2010/11 to 2012/13 (the current season not yet finished)...

I have taken the records of the 7 protagonists for this season (Man Utd, Man City, Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool) these have been the most consistent sides over that period too...

The tables also show how the teams fared from one 3 year period to the next and then lastly to highlight how a mixture of us improving and Arsenal and Chelsea going backwards, there is a table covering last season and this... Which really shows in recent times who really is top dog in London...

The first thing to note is how consistent Man Utd have been, in fact, when Jose took Chelsea to new heights and put Man Utd on the back foot, Fergie 
re-grouped and has come back stronger... An incredible achievement.

I have highlighted the London sides to show how far we have come from 9 years ago, Chelsea from the JM side have dropped off in every conceivable way.  Personally, I put this down to ever changing managers and not addressing the areas of the side that need addressing...

Arsenal have just been in a downward spiral for some time now and the tables don't lie... It is worth noting here, that in terms of downward spiral, Liverpool's fall from the "top table" is nothing short of staggering...

Whilst Man City have bought their way in, we have evolved under a few different managers, built steadily and now as you will see from the next table (which covers last season and this - until match 28) that we have overtaken both our London rivals...

Yes, I realise that there are 10 huge games left this season... but the trend has us heading upwards while Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool head in the opposite direction...

Lastly we can compare the London sides records over the last 9 years in groups of 3 seasons, this will again highlight the giant strides we have made in catching these sides and now, hopefully, pass them...

Our record over the last 3 seasons is already better than the previous groups of 3 seasons and we still have 10 games to play... A decent end to the season will see us break 200 points over a 3 season period, which is where Arsenal and Liverpool always used to be, guaranteeing a place in the CL year on year..

Not to mention the improvement in the goal difference (from a better defensive record).  On the face of it, we are turning losses into wins whereas Arsenal and Chelsea are doing the opposite.  The draws records of all 3 sides over the periods are remarkably similar all the way through for each.

If we are to challenge the Manchester sides at the very top, we will need a world class striker or two... It is one area where we still need to improve and the stats show the lack of goals (by comparison) is still an issue.  We were 50+ goals behind Chelsea and Arsenal in the early part of the millenium, but have closed that gap to 20-30... one world class striker!!!


Friday, 1 March 2013

London Calling....

If you are old enough to remember when EVERY London Derby was met with trepidation, whether it was Charlton or Chelsea, West Ham or Wimbledon, we just did not do very well...

In fact our record was appalling through the 90's...

I lost count the amount of times we'd play really well against Chelsea & then Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink would fall over a blade of grass and we would be gallant losers...


Recently, we seemed to have bucked the trend... the last few years have seen wins (yes wins) over Chelsea and Arsenal, a win at the Emirates, sadly no win at Stamford Bridge (yet) since the Titanic went down.. sorry, that was Anfield. 

So as we are on the eve of another (yes I am loathed to call it a North London Derby) London Derby, one that we are led to believe is of gargantuan proportions, I thought I would have a look back over the last 10 years and see how we have progressed against all of our nearest and dearest...

You will see the figures split by season, by opponent and by home & away and there are some interesting (interesting if you wear an anorak like me) patterns that emerge...

For instance, Monday night's opponents West Ham, despite 'Lasagnagate' we have a fantastic record against them... In fact, gutting as that game was, it is one of only two defeats to that lot in the last 14 games!!

Season by Season Record (with home & away splits):

As you would expect, we are a lot stronger at home and getting stronger, if you look at the 5 year splits, we are almost unbeatable at home... but what do I know, they say form goes out of the window in local Derbies!!!

5 year Splits: 2003-2008 & 2008-2013

The contrast is incredible, almost doubling the amount of PPG away from home and just one loss (Chelsea this season) at home in the last 5 years...

v Clubs Record (with home & away split):

Yes the numbers against Chelsea and Arsenal are bad (or worse), but they are improving, there are not just round 'zero's' in the Win column anymore...

Season's like the current one, with 6 London clubs in the Premier League and 10 London Derbies (that's over a quarter of the season) it is the results in these games that may yet decide the CL places!!

So hold onto your hats... we have 3 to play starting with a minor little matter this Sunday... 7pts from the 3 remaining Derbies should see us home (in my humble opinion)...


Thursday, 21 February 2013

TV Times... Does It Matter When We Play??

A light hearted look over the past 3 seasons to see how we have fared in Live Premier League games...

I often hear we are terrible at XX time kick-offs, but actually is that bad or just a misconception.

For the record, I don't really think it matters when we play, more who we play against would have more effect (my opinion).  But actually there are certain days/times that the results in general are far worse than others.  Listed below are all the PL live games for the last 3 seasons and a W D L breakdown to show when we "like" playing!!!

Late game on Sunday afternoon is very much "the best time for Spurs to play" live on TV.. according to the results.  Lunchtime is quite the opposite (and it does not seem to matter whether its Saturday or Sunday).

With Monday night live at West Ham, followed by Sunday late games v Arsenal and Liverpool on the horizon, are the TV gods going to be smiling on us??  

But it also shows 18 losses in 59 games over 3 seasons...

Does it matter if we are home or away when we are live?

at Home: P24  W12  D9  L3
at Away: P35  W13  D7  L15

Looking at those numbers, we are far better at home in live games.

So (excuse me while I take my tongue out of my cheek) Sunday 4pm at White Hart Lane is the optimum time/day for us to be live...

Quickly checks the schedules...

Spurs v Arsenal.... Live... Sunday.... 4pm.... White Hart Lane....

Need I say anymore....


NB: This, as it says, is a tongue in cheek, lighthearted look at live games and stats over the last 3 seasons... nothing more, nothing less...

Friday, 15 February 2013

Shooting, Corners, Possession... Are They Overrated?

185 - The number of corners Spurs have had in the PL this season
341 - The number of shots attempted by Spurs in the PL this season
177 - The number of shots on target by Spurs in the PL this season
  54 - Percentage of possession for Spurs in the PL this season (average)
  44 - Goals Scored

Contrast those numbers with these...

108 - The number of corners Spurs have conceded in the PL this season
192 - The number of shots attempted on Spurs' goal in the PL this season
103 - The number of shots on target against Spurs in the PL this season
  46 - Percentage of possession by Spurs' Opponents in the PL this season
  30 - Goals Conceded

People say we don't dominate games or teams as much as a Man Utd or a Man City or a Chelsea... 

Well the stats (as is often the case) tell a different story... we dominate most games, in terms of shots, corners, possession, we suffer due to our profligacy in front of goal...

Below are the stats for all our PL games this season... 

Not since Liverpool "beat us" (Brendan Rodgers likes to think winning the possession stats, wins games) have we not dominated the possession in a game, only once have we completely failed to back that up with a draw or a win, Everton away... Who incidentally are the only team this season to manage double figures in terms of shots on target...

The last 10 games unbeaten... no team (including the runaway leaders) have managed more than 4 shots on target against us, none have managed more than 7 shots in total in a game...

We have managed double figures attempts on goal in all but one of those games (Norwich), with 8 or more on target in at least 6 of those games...

It shows how well the defence are playing and how well protected they are by a midfield that has less "sparkle" than last season, but still creates chances and protects its back 4 as well... It also shows they trust the goalkeeper and they work as a unit and with AVB's rotation, it also goes to show, it does not really matter who plays at the back, the stats/results are pretty consistent...

We all know we need to improve our finishing and making better use of corners... the stats only go to highlight these shortcomings... I hope, finally, that our Chairman addresses this in the summer...

In the meantime, we can do no more than keep this run going... dominating games, winning, drawing, collecting points that we hope drive us back into the Champions League...


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Conceding Late Goals... Seemingly A Thing of The Past

I am fed up listening to lazy commentators and journo's still banging on about our susceptibility to conceding goals in the last 10 minutes of games... A problem we had early in the season, one that AVB said he would deal with... safe to say, he certainly seems to have "dealt with the problem"

Well, as has just been pointed out to me... 

Since the debacle at Goodison Park in December (those 2 late goals causing our only defeat in 14 PL games), we have not only not conceded a goal in the last 10 minutes of a game, we have NOT EVEN CONCEDED A GOAL IN THE 2nd HALF OF A PL GAME!!!!!!!! 

Sunderland (40th minute) went 1-0 down, WON 2-1 
* Reading (4th minute) went 1-0 down, WON 3-1 
Man Utd (25th minute) went 1-0 down, DREW 1-1 
Norwich (32nd minute) went 1-0 down, DREW 1-1 
Newcastle (24th minute) pulled back to 1-1, WON 2-1 

10 games, just 5 goals conceded, 6 wins, 4 draws, 0 defeats, 15 goals scores, 22 pts/30... 

Only Man Utd have a better points haul from those 10 games... Only Spurs and Man Utd are unbeaten in that time... No team has more clean sheets in those 10 games (5, Spurs & Man City)

In fact the next longest unbeaten run after Spurs/Man Utd's 10 games, is Arsenal with 4...

The Reading goal is still the only PL goal we have conceded in the first 15 mins of games this season. 

To those who say "we are not good enough" or "we are hanging on in games" or other similar comments, the stats don't lie... 

450 second half minutes since playing Everton, not a single time has Hugo Lloris had to turn around and pick the ball out of his net... 

In fact take that a little further... In the last 14 PL games (since the loss to Arsenal) only those 2 goals at Goodison and Andy Carroll's consolation at White Hart Lane for West Ham have been the only 3 goals we have conceded in the last 10 minutes of PL games in that time!!!

And finally, the only other PL goal conceded in that 14 game period... scored by our very own star of the moment Gareth Bale v Liverpool... does that count in Lennon's number of assists??


Thursday, 7 February 2013

How Many Goals Does It Take to Win A Game??

I keep hearing 1 goal is never enough for Spurs,  "we are always likely to let in one"... 4 goals conceded in the last 9 PL games, with 5 clean sheets... 

That says a team that is not likely to concede a goals... 

Granted we have gone a goal behind in the last 2 of the last 3 PL games, MU (no disgrace there) and Norwich... 

Some Numbers To emphasise the point: 

Teams conceding more than 1 goal in a game (at home) Number of Games this has occurred in this season in PL teams home games: 

Spurs: 1 
Norwich: 2 
Man City: 3 
Chelsea: 3 
Stoke: 3 
West Ham: 3 
Sunderland: 3 
Everton: 4 
Man Utd: 4 
Liverpool: 4 
Soton: 4
WBA: 4 A Villa: 5 
Swansea: 5 
Fulham: 5 
QPR: 5 
Newcastle: 6 
Reading: 7 
Arsenal: 7 
Wigan: 11 

That is the amount of times a visiting side has scored at least 2 goals this season. Arsenal, on average need to score 3 to win a home game, 7 visiting sides have scored 2 or more at the Emirates this season, Arsenal have won just 2 of those games. Chelsea the only team to visit WHL and score more than 1 goal. 

Away from home the story is thus: 

Swansea: 2 
Man City: 2 
Arsenal: 3 
Everton: 4 
Stoke: 4 
Spurs: 5 
Chelsea: 5 
Man Utd: 5 
QPR: 5 
Reading: 5 
West Ham: 6 
Norwich: 6 
Wigan: 7 
A Villa: 7 
Sunderland: 8 
WBA: 8 
Fulham: 8 
Newcastle: 8 
Liverpool: 9 
Soton: 9 

5 games we have conceded more than one away from home this season, and we have won 1, lost 4 of those games. 

So, personally, I think we are among the strongest teams defensively in the PL. Certainly in the middle third of the season, despite being without Kaboul & BAE and having a new keeper. 

Before you but we just don't score enough goals... 

I won't list all of the teams in the PL just those in the top 7, these are the amount of games the teams have scored 2 or more goals in this season, split home/away: 


Man Utd: 11 
Man City: 9 
Everton: 8
Chelsea: 7
Arsenal: 7 
Spurs: 6   
Liverpool: 5 

Arsenal and Everton have played 13 home games, the others 12.. So only AFC have scored 2 or more in a game at home once more than us this season and played one more game... 

The only game we have lost at home having scored 2+ was Chelsea.. 


Man Utd: 8 
Chelsea: 8
Man City: 7 Spurs: 7 
Everton: 6 
Liverpool: 6
Arsenal: 3

Again, the only time we have scored 2+ in a game and lost, away at Arsenal... AFC only scored 2+ away from home 3 times in 12 games, which shows in their away record. 

Unusually for us, we have been very consistent after an indifferent start, whereas our rivals Arsenal are very much "boom" or "bust" as far as scoring goals, its all or nothing...

Here's hoping for more nothings before the end of the season!!


Goalscorers, Goals, Conceding, Defending..

I keep hearing we are short of goals, goalscorers, we have the worst strike force in the top 7 of the PL... 

But if you look at the stats for the season so far, they tell you something quite different. 

Firstly, after 25 games last season (bear in mind we had 8 more points and had won more games) we had scored 49 goals. That's 7 more than we currently have. 

I keep hearing we are woefully out of form. How do you measure form? 4 games, 8 games, 12 games?? 

The last 13 games is a nice point to work from. The NLD was a low point of the season... Since then, we have been the 2nd best team in the PL.

Many of you will find that hard to believe or refute it. 

Well here is the top 7 form table: 

1. Man Utd    P13  W11  D2   L0   GF:31   GA:14    PTS:35/39 

2. Spurs        P13  W7    D4   L1   GF:22   GA:8      PTS:28/39      
3. Man Cty    P13  W7    D4   L2   GF:22   GA:11    PTS:25/39      
4. Chelsea    P13  W6    D4   L3   GF:27   GA:14    PTS:22/39      
5. Arsenal     P13  W6    D4   L3   GF:26   GA:16    PTS:22/39      
6. Everton    P13  W5    D7   L1   GF:18   GA:14    PTS:22/39      
7. Liverpool  P13  W6    D3   L4   GF:27   GA:16    PTS:21/39 

Interesting to look at the goals scored...4 goals less than "free-scoring" Arsenal. 

However, we have the same as Man City over the last 13 games and they have Aguero, Tevez, Dzeko, had Balotelli and Y Toure, Silva and yet can't score more than us over the last 13.. 

Look at the goals conceded column... 

You might just see that we have conceded less than everyone... 8 less than Arsenal, giving us a better goal difference.. 

We have managed to score the same and concede less (3) than the current PL Champions over the last 13 games. 

And some say we have no chance of top 4... 

Strange... if the next 13 games play the same way as the last 13 (and depending on the CFC/TH game) we will finish 3rd. 

So rather than moan and whinge "we are rubbish" or "we need more strikers" or "we are sh*t in defence" please take a moment to look and see how the team/manager have evolved as the season has gone on... 

Here is the same table (I had to include 8th because we started slowly) for the first 12 games of the season: 

1. Man Cty    P12   W8    D4    L0    GF:25     GA:10      PTS:28/36 

2. Man Utd    P12   W9    D0    L3    GF:29     GA:17      PTS:27/36 
3. Chelsea    P12    W7   D3    L2    GF:24     GA:13      PTS:24/36 
4. W B A       P12    W7   D2    L3     GF:19     GA:13     PTS:23/36 
5. Everton    P12    W5   D5    L2     GF:22     GA:16     PTS:20/36 
6. Arsenal    P12    W5   D4    L3     GF:23     GA:13     PTS:19/36 
7. WHam     P12    W5   D4    L3      GF:15    GA:12     PTS:19/36 
8. Spurs      P12    W5   D2    L5      GF:20    GA:21     PTS:17/36 

Only 2 goals more (granted), but defensively we improved dramatically over the last 13 games. Having said that we are not miles behind our rivals, except for Man Utd, but are worse off defensively by some big margins... 

Today's game was huge for us.  In fact the next week is huge. We had 2 PL games to play before any of our rivals play again... A massive opportunity to put pressure on them all.   Today's win has closed the gap to Chelsea, maintained the gap to Arsenal and moved us away from Everton.

Everton and Chelsea slipped up yesterday and Liverpool got a point at Man City. 


PS: For what it's worth, yes we could have done with another striker, however, we have options, we have goals from other areas and we are defensively so much stronger than we were... 

I don't think we actually look like losing games, even when we go behind...