2 weeks ago, I pointed out Man Utd’s average 27 crosses per match is the highest in the league. What I failed to highlight was David Moyes’ faith in crosses is nothing less than maniacal. Facing bottom-of-the-table Fulham, Man Utd pumped a staggering 82 crosses in the Theatre of Dreams. The social media was all about ‘crosses’ after the match. In light of that, I’d like to quote some additional information on crosses.

In November 2013, Colin Trainor revealed the statistics of the 5 biggest European leagues concerning key passes areas. He showed the probability of scoring goals from key passes (passes that are followed by shot attempts immediately) provided in different areas of the pitch. The results were as follows.

If the key pass is from:

–          the penalty area, the scoring probability is 18.8% (average 1 goal per 5.3 attempts)

–          own half, the scoring probability is 9.9% (average 1 goal per 10.1 attempts)

–          byline, the scoring probability is 9.1% (average 1 goal per 10.9 attempts)

–          central area outside penalty box, the scoring probability is 7.6% (average 1 goal per 13.1 attempts)

–          wide area outside penalty box, the scoring probability is 7.5% (average 1 goal per 13.3 attempts)

It should be noticed that only KEY PASSES (those resulting in goal attempts) are counted. Successful passes not resulting in an attempt were excluded.

Taking this match as an example, out of Man Utd’s 82 crosses, only 18 were completed, of which 1 was a key pass from wide area outside penalty box and 5 were from byline. Using the above result as a reference, the probability of scoring was actually quite low. What’s more, it appeared that Man Utd didn’t bother to try other methods. Consider the following: the Red Devils did not attempt to play a single through ball; 62-min sub Januzuj made 24 passes and half were crosses. Their ‘dedication to crosses’ is even making the neutral frustrated.

I suspect Moyes is a bit out of his mind amid all the negative comments made against him. Just look at how he stared back at the crowd after Man Utd’s second goal, it appears he craves to prove the world wrong. This attitude could be extremely powerful or extremely dangerous. Which one is it going to be?

The match between Man City and Chelsea is seen as a critical one in deciding this year’s champion. In their previous 11 home matches, Man City bolstered a stunning 3.8 goals scored per game whereas Chelsea only conceded 11 goals in their previous as many away games – that’s when an unstoppable force meets with an unmovable object. Mourinho stated his team will attack Man City, and ‘if I don’t, it’s because I can’t.’ Albeit yet another attempt to ease the pressure of his players, he was telling the truth.

Just as previous showdowns with fellow title challengers, Mourinho opted for David Luiz in the holding role together with Matic, who made his full debut in the league. The two did their job reasonably well. But if we are to single out one magical move by JM, it would be deploying Ramires as an attacking midfielder instead of Oscar. JM’s game-plan was somewhat idealistic: he wants to defend solidly and be able to hit Man City with both quick counters and patient build-up. That requires a good blend of attacking and defending attributes from every single player. Given this requirement, Ramires was a better choice over Oscar. For the other two attacking midfielders, the defensive ability and willingness of Hazard and Willian was exactly why JM let Mata go. Using these three behind E’too ensures the team has enough bodies to stay behind the ball when defending, yet possesses enough pace, aggressiveness and technical ability during counter attacks AND build-up play.

Comparing to their previous games against the big teams, the Blues were more aggressive this time. True, they only had 35% of the possession throughout the match and were defending most of the time; however, when they managed to get hold of the ball, they aimed to hurt City right away. Among their meager 256 passes, almost 40% of them were attacking third passes, demonstrating their willingness to go forward with numbers. Apart from that, it was clear the JM had special orders for Hazard. He made 11 successful dribbles, more than double of his season average. What’s more, goal-scorer Ivanovic’s continuous support in the attacking third also proved JM’s pre-match pledge a valid one. In terms of results, JM can be very proud of his players: they had 18 shots, even higher than their season average for away games. Not bad for a trip to the Etihad.

To be fair, Man City had a good game, or I should say they performed ‘as usual’, except they failed to convert chances. Even with Chelsea’s resolute defense, Man City created 14 chances in the penalty area (in a way, it also showed that Chelsea did not quite succeed in restraining Man City’s attack.) but only 1 was on target. Watching JM winning this game reminds me of his first attempt in El Clasico with Real Madrid. He also planned to take the risk and to attack Barcelona. That time he lost 0:5. Maybe Mourinho understands all too well that the difference between winning and losing can be so close, his smile was somewhat odd when his assistants were cheering around him after the final whistle.

曼城對車路士,被譽為今季聯賽爭霸關鍵之戰。曼城之前11場主場出擊場均攻入3.8球,而車路士之前11常作客比賽只失11球,名副其實最強矛盾之爭。摩連奴賽前明言車路士將會以攻為守,但‘若然大家看不到我們主攻,非不為也,實不能也’;其試圖為球隊減壓之心昭然若揭,但也所言非虛。

 

摩連奴一如之前面對強隊一樣,讓大衛雷斯出任防守中場,配合首次正選登場的馬迪。兩人在這場比賽表現稱職,但要數摩連奴的神來之筆,不得不提以拉美利斯代替奧斯卡出任其中一個進攻中場。摩連奴這場的game-plan十分‘理想化’:進要可攻,退要可守,每個球員都需要攻守能力平衡。考慮到這點,拉美利斯就要比奧斯卡來得合適。此外,夏薩特和韋利安的防守意識正正就是摩連奴願意放棄馬達的原因,以此三子出任進攻中場,可確保退守的時候有足夠的防守能力,而反攻時的速度又不受影響。

 

與他們之前面對強敵時的態度相比,這場車路士的確比較進取。沒錯,藍戰士全場只有35%的控球權,大部份之間都在防守,但一旦得到皮球,可看到他們侵略性深高:在他們僅有的256次傳送當中,有差不多四成都是前三分一場的傳球,進攻決心十分明顯。除次之外,摩連奴也明顯對夏薩特有特別指示。今場比賽,他作出了11次成功盤球突破,比他今季場均次數多了兩倍有多。另外,入球功臣伊雲諾域多番參與進攻也印證了摩連奴賽前的言論。就結果而言,相信摩連奴會為他的球員感到十分驕傲,他們在曼城主場製造了18次射門,比起他們今季作客賽事的平均攻門次數還要高。

 

話分兩頭,曼城今場賽事其實表現也不錯,應該說是保持水準(除了埋門把握一環)。在車路士的嚴密防守之下,仍然在禁區內製造了14次攻門(也反映其實車路士的防守並未很有效制止曼城),只是當中只有1次中目標。看著摩連奴今次凱旋,回想起當年他第一次帶領皇馬出戰國家打比,也是一般的勇者無懼、放手一戰,結果卻是慘敗0:5。摩連奴也知道勝負只在一線之差,完場後助手高聲歡呼時了露出了靦腆的笑容。

The most eye-catching transfer in the winter transfer window is undoubtedly Mata switching to Old Trafford for a record-breaking fee. Man Utd fans I know have mixed feeling about this move. On one hand they are thrilled because Mata is one of the best players in Europe; on the other, they fear Moyes is going to turn him into another Shinji Kagawa.

 

No doubt, Mata is a top-notch attacking player. From stats of his recent seasons, no matter at Valencia or Chelsea, it is obvious that he can always deliver. Since 2009, in 190 league games, European games and international games, Mata averaged 0.23 goals, 0.31 assists and 2.5 key passes per match. (In comparison, Shinji Kagawa recorded 0.15 goals, 0.16 assists and 1.3 key pass in 95 matches since 2010 whereas Iniesta recorded 0.1 goals, 0.24 assists and 1.4 key pass per match in 192 games since 2009.) Mata is for sure one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe. The remaining question is: is he suitable for Man Utd?

 

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man Utd has always relied heavily on crosses to create chances; under Moyes, they rely on crosses even more: their averaged 27 crosses per game is the highest in the Premier League (followed by Swansea, West Ham and Spurs’ 24 crosses per game). In contrast, on average, only 24% of their attack is through the middle area, the lowest in the Premier League. In fact, Moyes had demonstrated his obsession with crosses during his time at Everton. Last season, Everton crossed 26 times per games on average (this season, the number dropped to 22) and Leighton Baines topped the crossing table with an average of 2.8 crosses per game, of which 30% were successful. However, this season, Man Utd’s players cannot quite catch up with Baines’ performance and recorded much lower success rates in their crosses: Januzaj 16%, Valencia 18%, Evra 21% and Rooney 20%. Obviously, Moyes cannot quite repeat his game plan at Man Utd with equal success. Of course, to be fair, the absence of RVP and Rooney could be a direct cause of crosses not finding their target.

 

So how will Moyes deploy Mata? Is he going to stick with the crosses and hope Mata can deliver better crosses? Or is he going to penetrate more through the middle with Mata’s short game? For the former, although Mata is not a traditional winger/crosser, his crossing stat is actually quite impressive. This season at Chelsea, he provided 1.8 crosses per game with 32% of them finding a teammate. That’s better than any Man Utd player. Yet, many may see this as a waste of Mata’s ability. For the latter, we tend to believe Mata thrives as a central attacking midfield; but is Moyes bold enough to change the mode of attack mid-way through the season? I hope he has got a pretty clear idea to this issue. Otherwise, the ‘panic-buy’ hat would bring additional pressure upon his already shaky tenure.

冬季轉會窗到目前最觸目的轉會,當然是馬達以破紀錄的價錢加盟曼聯。筆者身邊的曼迷又驚又喜:喜,因為馬達是歐洲其中一位當時得令的球星;驚,是怕莫耶斯令他變成另一個香川真司。

 

毫無疑問,馬達本身是一名高質素進攻球員。從他近年的數據可以看到,無論在華倫西亞或車路士,他都能持續交出令人滿意的表現:從2009年開始,他在190場比賽聯賽、歐洲賽和國際賽中,場均交出0.23個入球、0.31個助攻和製造2.5次攻門。(為方便讀者比較,他的曼聯隊友香川真司從2010年開始,在95場聯賽、歐洲賽和國際賽中場均交出0.15個入球、0.16個助攻和製造1.3次攻門;而他的國家對隊友恩尼斯達從2009年開始,在192場聯賽、歐洲賽和國際賽中,場均交出0.1個入球、0.24個助攻和製造1.4次攻門。)從這些數字上看,馬達的確是近年歐洲球壇其中一位表現最出色的進攻球員。然而,他是否適合曼聯呢?

 

曼聯以往即使在費格遜麾下已經非常依賴傳中球(Crosses)製造攻門;而今季在莫耶斯執教下更加有過之而無不及:紅魔鬼今季暫時場均有27次傳中球,為英超最多(排第二的史雲斯、韋斯咸和熱刺有24次)。相反,曼聯是英超之中最少在正中位置組織攻門的球隊,只有24%攻勢來自中間。其實,莫耶斯在愛華頓年代就已經表現出他喜歡用傳中球為主要進攻模式。上季愛華頓場均有26次傳中球(今季只有22次),而左閘拜恩斯更加以場均2.8次傳中球和30%成功率成為上季英超‘傳中王’。但是,今季曼聯球員的傳中球成功率甚低:贊奴沙16%、華蘭西亞18%、艾夫拿21%、朗尼20%。顯然,莫耶斯在曼聯繼續依賴傳中球,初步成效不彰。當然、球隊大部份時間缺少雲佩斯和朗尼兩大射手,可能直接導致傳中球的成功率下降。

 

究竟莫耶斯簽下馬達後會利用他提升傳中質素,還是會改變打法,多利用他在中間組織?如果是前者的話,雖然馬達不是以傳中球見稱的球員,但其實他的傳中球也頗具質素(他今季的傳中球成功率達到32%、場均傳中球有1.8次,比起任何曼聯球員都要高),但未免有點浪費他的才華。如果是後者的話,我們一般相信馬達出任正中進攻中場最能夠發揮作用,但如此一來,整隊的進攻模式難免要改動,莫耶斯又是否夠膽在季中作出這樣大的變動?希望他心裏已經有了主意,要不然花掉3700萬的收購被看成panic-buy,頭上的罪名又要多一條了。

In his post-match interview, Mourinho implied the title challenge is all but over for Man Utd. However, looking at the starting line-up, it seems the Red Devils still pose some level of threat in his mind, only for United’s performance to provide a pleasant surprise to him.

Chelsea fielded David Luiz and Ramires as their holding midfielders. As I have pointed out previously, these two can’t quite contribute to attack the way they do to defend (as seen from their pass success rate last night: 73% and 77% respectively). In fact, before E’too found the net, Chelsea barely threatened United. The Blues’ second goal was only their second shot on target, 28 minutes after their first goal. Nonetheless, during those 28 minutes, contained by Chelsea’s deep line, Man Utd only managed 1 shot on target, just for Welbeck to produce a harmless shot straight into Cech’s gloves. Speaking of that, RVP and Rooney’s absence is sorely missed. Apart from the gulf of class between these two and the rest of United’s attacking players in terms of converting chances into goals, the non-existence of their smart and quick movements to draw defenders off-position had eased Chelsea defenders’ night. During the first-half, Gary Cahill was busy covering Ivanovic at the right side in light of Januzaj’s preference to attack that side. Should RVP or Rooney was there, they would be glad and eager to take advantage of this gap left behind.

People are in awe of E’too’s scoring ability for the 2nd and 3rd goal; truth is, those chances were presented by United’s defense. Looking at the play-back of the second goal several times, I recognized none of Man Utd’s defenders was actually checking teammates’ positions to reorganize after the corner was half-cleared to Ramires. The consequence was detrimental: none of Cahill (the assist provider), E’too (the scorer) and even Ivanovic (who was lurking at far post) was marked. For the 3rd goal, Cahill’s pressure-free header further highlighted United’s disorganized defense.

In terms of attack, Moyes can blame the absence of key players; but it has to be the coach and the players to take the blame for such horrible defensive organization. In my opinion, it has nothing to deal with their age or anything else. It merely shows their mentality is nowhere near a battling one. Whether it’s down to Moyes’ impotency or the reluctance of key players to follow suit remains to be discovered. What might interest us more right now is who will make way for the good of the team? Moyes or the players?

 

誰去誰留?

摩連奴在車曼大戰後表示曼聯已經沒有機會奪標,但從這場他的排陣來看,紅魔鬼在他心中還是有一定分量;只是紅魔鬼這場的表現應該會讓摩連奴‘喜出望外’。

 

車路士今仗以大衛雷斯和拉美利斯出任雙防中,筆者之見已經說過,這對組合破壞有餘,要靠他們組織卻有點勉強(這從他們今場分別只有73%和77%的傳球成功率可見一斑)。果然,在伊度奧打開記錄前車路士幾乎沒有在曼聯禁區製造過任何射門,而他射進的第二球(28分鐘之後)只是車路士第二次中目標的射門。但是,受制于車路士深度十足的防線,曼聯在這28分鐘也只製造了1次中目標射門,只是偉碧克射了一腳軟弱無力的射門。說到這裡,不得不提雲佩斯和朗尼缺陣的影響:其他攻擊球員跟兩人除了在處理埋門的級數有分別外,沒有這兩人牽引敵衛,車路士防守起來也相對輕鬆。在上半場,加里卡希爾其實經常要幫伊雲奴域補位(因為贊奴沙大部份時間在這邊進攻)而被拉到右閘的位置。如果雲佩斯或朗尼在陣的話,不難想像他一定會好好利用這些空間。

 

車路士攻入的第二和第三球,大家都讚歎伊度奧的把握力;但重點是,兩個機會都是曼聯雙手奉上的。筆者來回看了第二球幾次,發覺所有的曼聯球員在瓦解了第一波攻勢後幾乎都沒有觀察其他隊友的位置而從新組織防線,以致無論是交出助攻的加里卡希爾、進球的伊度奧或是在後柱伏兵的伊雲奴域都是無人看管的。第三球卡希爾可以‘無束縛’攻門就更加突顯出曼聯防線如何鬆散。

 

進攻上,莫耶斯可以歸咎傷兵問題,但如此鬆散的防守組織我認為教練和球員責無旁貸。這跟幾位防守大將年事漸高沒有關係,反而反映他們心理上根本不在作戰狀態。至於究竟是莫耶斯功力未夠還是一眾‘大佬’有意刁難,大可留待以後分解;現在大家更關心的可能是,究竟是莫耶斯先清洗淤血還是先被清洗呢?

After an eleven-days wait, Man Utd got their first win in 2014. This win, apart from relieving some (not much) of David Moyes’ pressure on his shoulder, delights many Asian fans because of Shinji Kagawa’s performance.

Much of the after-match comments made by United fans were about Moyes’ decision to switch Kagawa’s position with Januzaj’s, playing the former as AMC. In fact, Kagawa’s performance improved drastically in the second half: he recorded no shots, only 8 receives and 4 passes in the attacking-third in the first half. After the break, he had 4 shots, 15 receives and 14 passes in the front third. Many fans who watched the game would notice his positive influence: his ability to find pockets of spaces among tight defense and to create overloads for his teammates. Playing him as AMC allows him more freedom to roam from central area to the flanks to offer support; Kagawa also flourishes in this role as he can make deep runs and create scoring opportunities for himself more often. The only down-side of his performance was his overwhelming desire to score, blinding him from better choices at times (an example was his shot cleared by Britton, where it could be better if he pass to Rafael who was unmarked).

One of Kagawa’s unnoticed strengths is his defensive ability. Possibly because of his time spent at Dortmund, he is good at pressing, which is a big plus for modern attacking players. During the second half, after he switched roles with Januzaj, Man Utd’s pressing was more effective. Despite Swansea’s reputation for being able to retain possession in their own half under pressure, Man Utd managed to give them a hard time during the second half: Swansea had 85 passes in their defending third in the first half and only 35 during the second. This difference could be attributed to, apart from Moyes’ half-time instructions, the pressing lead by Kagawa.

In this January transfer window where rumors are flying, if Moyes can make the most out of Kagawa’s ability, why would he need to rush in bringing in new attacking players?

The original article is posted at sports.now.com:

http://sports.now.com/home/news/details?id=8969081178

等了11天,曼聯終於迎來了2014年第一場勝仗。這場比賽除了為莫耶斯減去了一點壓力外,令一眾亞洲球迷開心的還有香川真司的表現。

賽後很多身邊曼聯球迷談論焦點不外乎莫耶斯下半場將香川真司和贊奴沙的位置互調,讓前者出任最擅長的正中進攻中場位置。的確,香川上半場和下半場的表現判若兩人:上半場沒有射門,前三分一場接應和成功傳送分別只有8次和4次;到下半場有4次射門,前三分一場接應和成功傳送分別15次和14次。我想大部份的球迷都會看到香川在下半場所發揮的作用:他最擅長在密集的防守當中尋找空間,為控球隊友製造一些2對1、3對2等的情況。讓他出任3個進攻中場中中間的一位給他較大的走動空間,無論在左、中、右邊都可以提供支援,而他在這位置上也有較大自由度做出一些侵略性的走位從而攻門。今仗唯一要挑剔他的地方就是他太想入球,以致在門前錯過了一些可能更好的選擇(例如被比頓護空門的一球交給拉菲爾可能更好)。

香川另外一個常被忽略的強項就是他的防守能力。可能受惠于效力多蒙特的兩年光景,香川在前場壓逼對手的能力其實十分出色,而這也是現今頂級進攻球員必備的技能。下半場香川和贊奴沙互調位置後,曼聯前場的壓逼明顯比上半場來得有效。史雲斯在後場保持控球的能力享負盛名,但今場上下半場的後場傳球數字可謂天淵之別:上半場85次、下半場則只有35次,除了因為莫耶斯半場下達指令之外,香川所引領的逼搶也功不可沒。

1月份轉會傳聞一大堆,但如果莫耶斯能夠把香川的能力發揮到最大,又何須急著在季中引入球員?

After the packed Christmas and New Year schedule, 20 weeks has passed. Arsenal is still leading the table while Man City and Chelsea are closely following. The league table is of course the most important of all as it decides final standings. However, how much of individual teams’ attacking/scoring and defending efficiency can be reflected by it? As we enter a bit of a break because of cup ties, let’s take a deeper look at these aspects and it may just give us a brief idea of which team is more likely to finish at the top in week 38.

The total number of goals scored by each team can be seen from the table, which in a way represents the attacking ability of the teams. Nonetheless, if we want to know how efficient a team is in scoring goals, we will need to take into consideration 1. average number of attempts needed to score a goal and 2. average number of on target attempts needed to score a goal.

Average number of attempts needed to score a goal: (in brackets are total number of goals and goal-scoring ranking)

  1. Man City 6.18 attempts (57 goals, 1st)
  2. Liverpool 7.43 attempts (46 goals, 2nd)
  3. Arsenal 7.59 attempts (39 goals, 3rd)
  4. Man Utd 8.06 attempts (33 goals, 5th)
  5. Chelsea 8.63 attempts (38 goals, 4th)

Average number of on target attempts needed to score a goal: (in brackets are total number of goals and goal-scoring ranking)

  1. Man City 2.25 attempts(57 goals,1st
  2. Liverpool 2.83 attempts(46 goals,2nd
  3. Man Utd 2.97 attempts(33 goals,5th
  4. Arsenal 2.974 attempts(39 goals,3rd
  5. Hull City 3 attempts(22 goals,14th

Given the above ranking, we can see that Man City leads the charts by quite a large margin. In fact, the average number of shots and shots on target of Man City and Liverpool are very close (Liverpool even records a higher number of shots on target and SoT ratio). This further highlights Man City’s efficiency in converting chances into goals. On the other hand, Man Utd’s scoring efficiency surpasses the two teams who rank higher in the league table: Everton and Tottenham. It appears Man Utd’s fans can be a little bit more lenient with David Moyes.

On defending side, goals conceded of course tell us something; but to go deeper, we can also consider the number of shot conceded in relation to goals conceded. This gives us on average how many shots conceded will lead to a goal conceded.

Average number of shots conceded to concede a goal: (in brackets are total number of goals conceded and goal-against ranking, least GA being 1st)

  1. Arsenal 13.22 (GA 18,1st
  2. Everton 12.42(GA 19,2nd
  3. Cardiff City 11.5(GA 32,17th
  4. Liverpool 11.39(GA 23,4th
  5. West Ham 11.2 (GA 30,15th

Surprisingly, Man City and Man Utd ranked 16th (9.04)and 11th (10)in this table whereas Tottenham came last, conceding a goal every 8.56 shots conceded.

All in all, Arsenal and Liverpool excel in scoring and defending efficiency as they ranked top 5 in all the above tables and it could be fair to say these two teams performed best after 20 weeks. Should they be able to keep up the standard, either one of them might just be able to end their long wait for the title. On the other hand, Man City performed dramatically varied in terms of scoring and defending. The fact that they are second right now is attributable to their superb scoring efficiency rather than robust defending. However, lessons learnt from the past show that this may not be a reliable way to sustain a title challenge. Chelsea, third of the league, did not impress in either scoring or defending efficiency and might need some drastic improvements if they are to challenge for the title.

經過了聖誕新年的快車期,英超已經進行了20週的比賽,阿仙奴暫時領導群雄,但後面的曼城和車路士也亦步亦趨緊隨其後。聯賽榜固然決定最後排名,但個別球隊在進球和防守上面表現又有多少能夠反映在聯賽榜之中?趁著英超稍微讓路給聯賽杯和足總杯之際,讓我們來做一些較為深入的分析,或許可以讓我們窺探一下哪一隊最有冠軍相。

聯賽榜上大家可以看見各隊總入球數字,這固然可以反映攻力,但如果要知道他們攻門的效率,就必須要把進球、攻門數字和中目標次數這三項因素一起考慮,從而得出:1.平均每入一球要攻門多少次和2. 平均每入一球要中目標多少次。

平均製造一個入球需要攻門次數:(括弧內為入球數字和入球排名)

  1. 曼城 6.18次 (57球,入球排名第1)
  2. 利物浦 7.43次(46球,入球排名第2)
  3. 阿仙奴 7.59次(39球,入球排名第3)
  4. 曼聯 8.06次(33球,入球排名第5)
  5. 車路士 8.63次(38球,入球排名第4)

平均製造一個入球需要中目標次數:(括弧內為入球數字和入球排名)

  1. 曼城 2.25次(57球,入球排名第1)
  2. 利物浦 2.83次(46球,入球排名第2)
  3. 曼聯 2.97次(33球,入球排名第5)
  4. 阿仙奴 2.974次(39球,入球排名第3)
  5. 侯城 3次(22球,入球排名第14)

其實曼城和利物浦場均攻門次數和中目標次數十分接近(利物浦中目標次數和比例還要稍高),但從以上兩項統計來看,曼城確實是比起其他對手的進攻效率高出了一大截。另外,曼聯的把握能力其實還是名列前茅,比起聯賽排名更高的愛華頓和熱刺都要好,看來曼聯的粉絲不必對莫耶斯太過嚴厲。

防守方面,失球數字當然是指標,但如果深入一點的話,我們可以將每場被攻門的次數也考慮在內,從而得出一隊球隊平均被攻門多少次就會失手。

每失一球平均被攻門次數:(括弧內為失球數字和失球排名)

  1. 阿仙奴 13.22次 (失18球,失球第1少)
  2. 愛華頓 12.42次(失19球,失球第2少)
  3. 卡迪夫城 11.5次(失32球,失球第17少)
  4. 利物浦11.39次(失23球,失球第4少)
  5. 韋斯咸 11.2 次(失30球,失球第15少)

較為意外的是曼城和曼聯分別排在第16位 (9.04次)和第11位 (10次),而熱刺更排最後,平均被攻門8.56次就失一球。

總括而言,阿仙奴和利物浦在進攻和防守效率中都排在前五名內,前半季表現最好的兩隊非他們莫屬。如果能夠持續表現的話,奪標絕非空談。相反曼城則較為極端,現在能夠排在第二位是因為擁有超強的把握能力,掩蓋了防守上的問題,但在漫長的聯賽爭奪戰中卻非萬全之策。而現在排在第三位的車路士在各方面表現都不算特出,看來下半季要加把勁。

Jose Mourinho said before Christmas that Liverpool was top of the table simply because of the fixture. Turns out he’s right. As week 19 passed by, Liverpool find themselves 5th of the table after losing to fellow title contenders Man City and Chelsea. Liverpool’s starting line-ups of these two matches are identical bar 1 change, but were beaten by 2 distinctive approaches deployed by Pellergrini and Mourinho.

The Boxing Day fixture between Man City and Liverpool was one of the best matches in recent times in terms of footballing standard. Both sides played with a high tempo with minimal errors and both sets of fans can be pleased with the match itself. In general, number of passes and success rate can reflect the fluidity of a match to a certain extent. That night, Man City’s and Liverpool’s number of passes (success rate) were 545 (88%) and 507 (88%), which were almost identical to their season average of home and away matches. (Man City’s average number of passes for home games is 586(88%) while Liverpool’s away average number of passes is 508 (83%)).In fact, the number of shots taken by both teams are pretty much close to their respective season average. Apparently both coaches chose to play their own game despite the weight of the match. In the end, Rodgers would have no complain as his Liverpool side performed as usual, if not better.

Contrary, Mourinho adapted his team for Rodgers’ men. The number of passes of both teams (Chelsea: 443 (77%); Liverpool: 407 (77%)) were far worse than their respective season average (Chelsea’s average for home games: 557 (83%)). Even number of goal-attempts was significantly lower than their season average.

Mourinho is renowned for adapting to opponents, even if it means sacrificing the attractiveness of the match. (An example was the away game against Arsenal on 23rd December when the Gunners, with 61% possession, were restricted to 7 shots when their average was 14 and the game ended a goalless draw.) It was apparent that Mourinho deployed David Luiz as DM, together with replacing Lampard with Mikel, as a move to restrain Suarez and Coutinho’s movements between Chelsea’s defense and midfield lines. And it worked. Suarez’s actions in the attacking third were reduced significantly, comparing to the Man City game: Suarez only received and passed 9 and 14 times in the front third against Chelsea but managed 17 and 22 times respectively against Man City. As a result, Liverpool struggled in attack: they only managed to enter the final third 49 times, comparing to 83 times against Man City.

This tactics is a two-edged sword for Mourinho, however. Chelsea’s own attacking play suffered simultaneously. The success rate of final third passes was at a poor 58%. Anyway, Rodgers seemed clueless in tackling Mourinho’s ‘chaotic approach’ apart from making two ineffective changes in Smith and Aspas. Rodgers and his team was caught by surprised apparently.

In defense of Rodgers, it is the first time he’s challenging for the title and it takes experience. By contrast, Mourinho has been doing this for 10 years and knows in these potential title deciders, results come first. Speaking of this, I can’t stop thinking about the rumors when Mourinho last ‘mutually agreed’ to leave Chelsea. Words were that Roman didn’t like Mourinho’s pragmatic approach and wanted Chelsea to play ‘beautiful football’. A bit of Deja Vu eh?

摩連奴在聖誕快車期前說利物浦當時能夠高據榜首只是因為賽程的編排;果然經過第19週之後,利物浦先後敗走曼城和車路士,已經跌落第五位。利物浦這兩場比賽正選陣容只有一個變動,卻被柏歷堅尼和摩連奴以兩種完全不同的方法擊敗。

利物浦拆禮物日對曼城的比賽精彩程度近年難見,雙方快上快落的開放式進攻加上少犯錯,讓球迷大飽眼福。傳球數字多寡和成功率或多或少反映球賽的流暢度,而當日曼城和利物浦的傳球數字(成功率)分別爲545次(88%)和507次(88%)都屬於正常水平發揮(曼城主場平均數據和利物浦作客平均數據為586次(88%)和508次(83%))。而射門數字上兩邊都十分貼近各自今季的平均數,可見雙方教練都沒有特別為對手改變自己的風格。利物浦在發揮正常下最終落敗,羅渣士也不能怪誰。

相反,利物浦作客車路士的比賽中,摩連奴就採取了哲然不同的方法。整場比賽車路士和利物浦的的傳球數字(成功率)分別爲443次(77%)和407次(77%),比起雙方有關的場均數字差別頗大(車路士主場場均統計為557次(83%)。)即使在攻門次數上,兩隊都跟正常水平相差甚遠。歸根究底,要多得摩連奴。

摩連奴善於因應對手改變踢法,為求達到目的,哪管踢出來的足球好不好看。(就以12月23日作客阿仙奴為例,一樣是為求不失而犧牲進攻流暢度。今季主場場均攻門有14次的阿仙奴當時即使有61%控球權,但面對車路士卻只有7次攻門,最終握手言和。)今場對利物浦,摩連奴起用David Luiz擔當防守中場,下半場更換入米基爾代替林柏特,目的就是要減低蘇亞雷斯和古天奴在後防線和中場線之間遊走的威脅。以蘇亞雷斯為例,今場他在前三分一場傳球和接應只有9次和14次,比起對曼城時的17次和22次減少了很多。也因為這樣,利物浦今場舉步維艱,全場只成功進入前三分一場49次(對曼城時有83次)。如此一來。車路士本身的進攻能力也受到影響,今場他們在前三分一場的傳球成功率只有58%,差不多每傳兩球就失一球。面對車路士以亂打亂這一著,羅渣士除了換入史密夫和阿斯帕斯兩位無甚貢獻的攻擊球員外,似乎無計可施,在這場博弈中被摩連奴的奇招擊破。

畢竟今季是羅渣士第一次以爭標分子身份帶隊,爭奪聯賽之路上可能尚欠火候。相反摩連奴已經累積了10年的爭標經驗,深明面對主要競爭對手,賽果比起踢出華麗足球更為重要。講到這裡,不禁想起:當年盛傳阿巴怒炒摩連奴就是因為希望車路士能夠踢出漂亮足球,如今車路士卻又回到這條路上,究竟所為何事?