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Everton And Advanced Stats: An Introduction

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Chris Brunskill

As part of our coverage of Everton this year we are going to be getting into some advanced stats for Everton. While Advanced stats have been growing in popularity in baseball, American football, and other sports; soccer has remained a bit of a mystery. That causes problems when fans see Everton had 60% of possession, 10 shots on goal, but lost 2-1.  The goal of this series, how's that for a pun, is to dig into the basic numbers and see what is actually going on. Below is a plan for what I want to look at this season, but if you have ideas for what stats you want to learn about then leave some information in the comments. One final note, while I've wanted to look into this for the past two years, some of the concepts are coming from Cartilage Free Captain or have been modified based on their work. You can find their excellent analysis here.

Goals and Shooting

I think we can safely say that everyone is interested in shooting, especially Evertonians. We've always had a bit of a problem finding consistent production up top. The big thing to be tracking here will be shot location. Similar to CFC, the attacking half of the field has been broken up into different zones based on apparent difficulty of shot. I've also tried to have set parameters for each zone.

{SHOT ZONE GRAPH}

Zone 1 - This should have the highest percentage of shots scored. It extends from the goal line out to the edge of the 6 yard box and is the width of the goal.

Zone 2 - This is the remaining part of the 6 yard box on both sides of zone 1. It will go from the goal line to the top of the 6 yard box and from the post to the edge of the 6.

Zone 3 - Possibly the most active zone for shots, zone 3 is the width of the 6 yard box and extends from the box to the top of the 18 yard box. Expect a lot of data from here, but penalties will not be counted.

Zone 4 - I decided I want to call this the cutback zone because of its location. I don't expect many shots from here, but it is a perfect place for a winger to slot the ball to the middle for an easy tap in. It extends from the goal line to the top of the 6 and has a width from the edge of the 18 to the edge of the 6.

Zone 5 - This zone will take care of the corners of the 18. It will run from the top of the 6 to the top of the 18 and its width will go from the outside edge of the 18 to the outside edge of the 6.

Zone 6 - The Leighton Baines special, this zone is the width of the 18 yard box and goes from the top of the 18 and out 10 yards. I would guess most goals from outside the box come here.

Zone 7 - This is the flanks and honestly outside of a fluke goal I don't see much happening here. It is the area between the touchline and the 18 yard box. It will extend from the goal line to the top of Zone 6.

Zone 8 - This zone is everything else past Zones 6 and 7 up the pitch. If Tim Howard somehow scores again it is going in this zone. If anyone actually shoots from this zone outside of a free kick I reserve the right to complain about it.

So for every shot in one of these zones we are going to be noting the shooter, type of shot (volley, header, strike), if it was a good chance, and result of the shot. I think the most important part of this will be shot quality. It is a bit subjective, but if we see Everton have a lot of shots but not score, this should help explain why.

Using this data we are also going to look at crosses. Crosses will be classified by the deliverer, if it was on the ground or in the air, and what the result was. I think crossing into the box is one of the more inefficient things to do when trying to score, and maybe the data will show this. Leighton Baines gets a lot of credit for creating hundreds of chances, but just putting a cross into the box should not be considered creating a chance. If that's all that matters then most of us could do it.

The final offensive stat I want to look at is missed opportunities. And by missed opportunities I'm not just talking about putting a shot wide, but situations where a player had an open shot but took another touch or completely whiffed on a thru ball.

Defense

We are going to chart every opponents shot just like we will for Everton players. We will attempt to see how well Everton is doing at limiting dangerous shots compared to other teams in the EPL. Though the sample size will be small, I'd also like to compare EPL performance to Europe and see if there are any trends. That might be a project that takes several years, but something worth examining.

One idea posted by a reader was to look at interceptions. Tackles are a very poor method of measuring defensive prowess, but interceptions are something that requires positioning and patience. Not only do we want to look at what players are making more interceptions, but if the location of these interceptions correlates to a teams performance. This is something we may discard early in the season, but it is worth looking into.

Again feel free to leave comments and ask questions below. This isn't the be all end all of advanced stats and if there are more areas everyone wants us to look at we will be more than happy to try and do it. Tomorrow I'll have part two up where we'll introduce a few more advanced stats we are planning to look at.