GC Analytics: Football data vizzies!

I havent had the time to write any articles of any kind lately so i thought i would post some recent data visuals i have sent out to various clients over the past few weeks with some brief explanations of what they entail, enjoy and any questions feel free to contact me on my social media channels.

A recent model of mine i have been working on is an expected points model some of which i have posted on here before (search this site and you will find explanations for the model). This one is an updated SkyBet League 1 table. I compile these concurrently for all English based leagues and these are a useful tool in seeing how a team ‘should’ be doing and i keep these up to date on a weekly basis.

These are my brand new pass sonars inspired by the guys at @AnalysisEvolved. They are designed to show the pass directions of a team. This example is of PSG in a 3-4-2-1 shape. Again i can compile these on any team in the world if i have the data. Below is Thiago Silva’s individual pass sonar.

The first graphic in this set is an xG timeline designed to show the xG of two teams in a certain game and the second and third graphics are pass maps of the two teams from the same game.

This viz is showing Brentford’s Neal Maupay’s shot map so far this season (it needs updating as it is from earlier on in the season).

This screenshot is from a recent opposition report for a few clients i compiled. This shot shows a brief set piece analysis but is part of a detailed 20 page report.

Another xG graphic this time showing Aston Villa’s rolling xG and xGA for the season so far.

RB Leipzig’s ELO rating throughout the last few years this one created using Python software.

Using a mathematical equation called a convex hull we can show the positions that a given player seems to intercept the ball on average this viz shows Hernandez and Pavard’s success for France at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and was inspired by David Sumpter a well known mathematician after i had read his book Soccermatics.

Again using a convex hull we can determine some passing networks in the Spanish team against Russia and once this is from the 2018 World Cup.

Above is some tactical analysis from the Dortmund Bayern game.

And finally player radars. These are becoming an increasingly popular tool when scouting players and a lot of data is able to shown in one eye pleasing visual.

Gareth Cooper

GC Analytics

Analysing goalkeepers part 2: EFL Championship, Leagues 1 and 2

Goalkeeper data analysis part 2

Following on from my previous article on using data to analyse goalkeepers in the EPL I said I would do the same for the keepers in the last of the three EFL leagues, so as promised here we go!

SkyBet Championship

Now im not going to go into all of the detail of the metrics published in my previous post as I think we all had a fair bit to read in that post so if you need a refresher I suggest you screenshot the methods and refer back.

So for the three leagues I will be showing the following-

  • Save percentage
  • AAGS (above average goals saved)
  • xGA (expected goals against)
  • adjsve% (adjusted save percentage)
  • I wont be adding in some of the other metrics like-
    • Distribution
      Coming off line

    This is purely because I am basically then doing a lot of other peoples work for them and they would have a decent set of numbers to work from but also I have people who are relying on me for a complete set of the information above and to share all what I have wouldnt be fair on them either.

    All of the tables ahown here are based on the 6 games played so far.

    So lets start with what most pundits, analysts, players and managers probably consider the toughest league to get out of, the infamous SkyBet Championship.

    Championship save percentages

    You dont need me to tell you that Middlesbrough’s Darren Randolph has started the season in exceptional form in between the sticks for Tony Pulis’ team.

    Boro’s No.1 Darren Randolph

    Having faced 20 shots on target so far the former West Ham keeper has managed to save a whopping 18 of them and only conceding on 2 occasions hence the excellent 90% save percentage. A stat that will be backed up furthermore in the next table.

    A keeper, more importantly a young keeper, that has really caught my eye is Leeds United’s Bailey Peacock-Farrell. The 6′ 4″ 21 year old joined Leeds after being released by Middlesbrough in 2013 after spending 7 years on Teeside in the academy.

    Peacock-Farrell looks to have a bright future and under goalkeeping coach Marcos Abad, who previously worked under Aitor Karanka at Middlesbrough, he has an excellent tutor. Shot stopping (18 saves out of 22 faced) is another good record to rival Randolph’s.

    Two positive features of his game I have noticed is firstly his ability to be able to read what could happen infront of him in regards to coming off of his line quickly for a big lad and secondly his willingness to come for practically every cross into the box. An impressive start from the Northern Ireland international.

    As I alluded to earlier Randolph continues to impress in this AAGS table. Having directly saved Boro of nearly 5 goals, an excellent tally indeed.

    Mulder, Dawson, Camp and Archer of Swansea, Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham City and Millwall respectively all boast decent records as well so far. As of course does the aforementioned Peacock-Farrell.

    Keepers in the bottom five of the table are maybe a tad hard done by as we must take into account the defensive capabilities of the players in front of them as of course we should for the keepers at the top having a decent defence in front of them, however being responsible for nearly 4 of the 9 goals your team has conceded doesnt make for good reading.

    Dean Henderson has adapted well to life at Sheffield United as has Sam Johnstone at West Brom. Early days but there are some very good goalkeepers in the Championship and their needs to be.

    SkyBet League 1

    For me this is where things get interesting. Can we find a keeper in theses type of leagues that would be capable of making a step up in class.

    Posh’s Aaron Chapman

    Peterborough United’s 6′ 4″ keeper Aaron Chapman has come to the fore after signing for The Posh in May of this year from Accrington Stanley. 28 year old Chapman has had some serious injury issues in the past but has been a shining light for Steve Evans’ side in their top of the table start to the season and with a AAGS of 7.57 he really has won his side some games already with a save percentage of 83% as having faced 30 shots and only conceding 5 goals (with an xGA of 12.51) it will be interesting to see if he can keep this kind of form up. A tall keeper who likes to come for crosses is also always a bonus.

    Another impressive keeper is Pompey’s Harrogate born Craig MacGillivray.

    Saving 19 shots of 23 faced and conceding just 3 goals with an xGA of 9.75 is another excellent return for the south coast side. After making ninety appearances for Harrogate Town MacGillivray signed a two year deal with Walsall in 2014 and then went on to play for Shrewsbury on a one year deal before joining Portsmouth in June of this year.

    I have watched him on several occasions and I have been very impressed with his decision making on coming off his line quickly and also his positioning and his stand- up-as-long-as-possible attitude when facing a one on one situation.

    He is good enough to be playing in the Championship in my opinion.

    Walsall’s Liam Roberts is another keeper I like and at only 23 he hopefully has a good future after a spending a lot of time out on loan in the Vanarama conferences in recent seasons.

    SkyBet League 2

    Topping the league at this moment in time the Cowley brothers Lincoln City team have made an excellent start to life in League 2 after gaining promotion on winning the National League title last season. A key player in the side is goalkeeper Grant Smith. The former Reading and Fulham youth team player joined Brighton’s development squad in 2012 but was released in 2014 and spells with Hayes (twice) and more recently Boreham Wood. Smith joined The Imps in June of this year and looks to have started very well indeed.

    Lincoln keeper Grant Smith

    With an AAGS ratio of 5.37 and conceding only twice with an xGA of 7.37 the early signs are good.

    Yeovil Towns on loan Chelsea keeper Nathan Baxter is also a very exciting prospect. The 6′ 3″ 19 year old has been with Chelsea since 2006 when he was 9 years old and he his thought very highly of at Cobham so I am told. Loan spells at the Met Police, Solihull Moors and Woking have helped him ease into senior football and then into League football with Yeovil.

    These early numbers that Baxter has produced are testament to his confidence in his goalkeeping ability. Having faced 20 shots conceding just 3 goals with an xGA of 8.01 is impressive for any keeper let alone a lad his age. Being responsible for keeping out 5.01 goals so far this season is credible indeed.

    In summary

    I hope these metrics and methods have been as enjoyable to read and decipher as they were for me when compiling them.

    I havent covered the National League purely for current on going reasons although I have compiled lists and so forth for it.

    Any questions do give me a shout on Twitter


    or on my LinkedIn page


    Thanks for reading.

    Gareth Cooper

    GC Analytics

    Goalkeepers in the EPL: Using stats and data to measure goalkeepers in English football

    Liverpool keeper Alisson

    For the player scouting I get asked to do not a huge amount of it involves looking for goalkeepers.

    Nothing unusual about that you might say considering there are far more outfield players to look at than the man between the sticks.

    When clubs are looking to sign a new keeper it requires specific scouting methods to go alongside more traditional ways of looking at his/her performances. Looking at some data and stats and then applying them to some familiar and maybe unfamiliar metrics can give a better understanding of what a certain club is looking for in a new No.1.

    The Importance of Adaptation

    An easy example to use is of course Is Ederson at Manchester City.

    Ederson: City’s £35m capture from Benfica

    Whether a keeper can adapt to a teams playing style is a big factor when recruiting.

    Ederson has excellent distribution from not only his feet but also his hands , he has good shot stopping ability, his starting positions are excellent when preparing to come for crosses and on other set pieces, and that’s before we delve into his superb long ball delivery and eagerness to always be on the front foot to start counter attacks.

    So what can we use to back up what video scouting is showing us?


    Depending on what you want from a keeper varies on what metrics we want to apply to get an outcome that would show us a baseline and a rough idea for which keeper would look into more and compare some video to.

    A question we could ask of a goalkeeper that would be useful to look at if we were a team keen on using counter attacks or getting the ball moving ASAP would be- does he tend to come for crosses quite often?

    EPL catch success so far 18/19

    Above is a graphic detailing the crosses faced by keepers in the EPL and not only their catch success rates but also added in is whether we can identify any trends in whether they tend to punch the ball or prefer to catch it.

    Now with all this we must bear in mind the fact that at the time of writing their has only been 4 EPL games so to make a comparison at this point in a season is pretty impossible but we are looking at how these can be applied and the longevity of the metrics. This is one of the reasons why I like to include the three other English leagues as we have a bit more of a sample size and the other is because we may find a keeper that could make a step up. This I will be covering the findings from in a post in the days following this one.

    Back to the graphic and crosses and maybe predictably we can see Ederson is an early front runner. Even on last seasons evidence its clear the City No.1 likes to catch rather than punch, and for a reason, he catches to start counter attacks from short throws or his excellent, accurate long ball kicking ability.

    Hugo Lloris is much the same but a surprising inclusion is Watford’s Ben Foster. The Hornets unbeaten start to the season is testament to a keeper than has had his ups and downs over the years but overall is a reasonably consistent goalkeeper. Having faced 22 crosses and successfully catching half isnt bad going but is probably expected.

    Looking at some keepers, could be backed up by the following, throws?.

    Choosing to throw the ball rather than lump it upfield is another sign of a team liking to play out from the back and building from throws from their keeper to a defender and this is useful when compiling opposition reports. Again Ederson is up near the top of the list but we would expect this anyway again given the style of play. Fabianski is another who tends to release the ball early but in a odd trend we see Foster at the bottom of the list possibly suggesting Watford prefer him to look long for Deeney and co. The same applies to Cardiff, Huddersfield and Brighton all long ball teams so even at an early stage of the season we can maybe identify a small trend here.

    On the front foot

    The trend of a sweeper keeper is more prevelant nowadays and teams are looking more and more for a keeper that is good with his feet but also willing to come off his line to deal with balls played in behind their defence.

    Once more Watford’s Foster shows another quality some teams may look for. Remember these are small samples but its another valid point that Foster is happy to tidy up and come out of his area to clear up loose through balls and such like.

    The importance of shot stopping

    A blindingly obvious important area of goalkeeping is shot stopping so can we work out from some data how good a keeeper is in this area and if so how much has he helped his team in winning/losing/drawing games along the way?

    Inspired by the excellent work of data scientist Derek Yam (@YAMiAM18) I have compiled the graphic above on measuring a keepers shot stopping ability.

    The method

    Adjusted save percentage is a method that shows us a level in regards to if a keeper is performing better or worse than the average keeper in the league we can calculate this by showing the difference between expected goals against (xGA) and the actual goals conceded and then dividing by the total shots on target.

    Another metric that can be used is Above Average Goals Saved which is an estimate that shows if a keeper has directly cost their team goals and vice versa. This is basically calculated by using the difference of the expected goals against divided by goals conceded.

    Derek’s work is exceptional in this field and has personally opened my eyes to some very accurate ways of looking at goalkeeping metrics.

    The results

    A minus figure on the AAGS tells us that a keeper has directly cost his team that many goals for example we can see that Petr Cech has been responsible for letting in 1.27 of Arsenal’s goals so far this season but he has faced 27 shots conceding 8 goals with an xGA of 6.73 hence the -1.27 number so we can argue either way in terms of good or bad (yes i know its only been 4 games but this is just to show the reasoning at this point) on the flip side of that we have Spurs’ Hugo Lloris who has kept out 2.64 goals with an xGA of 4.64 and facing only 10 shots and even at this early stage this is considered a good return.

    In summary

    Their will always be doubters around that will say whether or not it is fair and and also how to measure a goalkeeper when it comes to using data but I hope I have shown, with the help of others of course, that their are ways of using these kind of metrics to evaluate and come to a conclusion alongside more traditional scouting methods (of which i have experience of both in a professional setting, trust me it works).

    So far this year already i have been impressed with Alex McCarthy and Ben Foster and although these methods are by far worth much more over a longer period of time they are still a one way of finding out which type of keeper would suit your team and there are more than the metrics and stats I have mentioned that we can use to evaluate a goalkeeper.

    As I mentioned before, I will be publishing a quick article and some tables on the keepers in the Championship and Leagues 1 & 2 in the days following this one.

    Gareth Cooper

    GC Analytics

    Style and football: Are things finally looking up for MK Dons under Paul Tisdale?

    Paul Tisdale
    Photo: MK Citzen

    Lets start from the beginning

    The appointment of Paul Tisdale at MK Dons on the 6th of June 2018 surprised some but maybe not MK Dons fans as whispers of his imminent arrival was hot on the lips of many fans who attend Stadium MK. Tisdale hadnt agreed new terms with Exeter City with whom he was the longest serving manager in English football after Arsene Wenger had left Arsenal.

    Exeter City

    Having led Exeter for the last 12 years Tisdale, for the majority, had an excellent relationship with the board and fans but cracks had started to appear with fans becoming increasingly anxious at his refusal to change his style of play. This came to a head in April away at Stevenage last season in a 3-1 loss. Fans were clearly disgruntled and chants of ‘Tisdale out’ rang across the Lamex Stadium despite Exeter sitting in fourth place in League 2. Steve Perryman, then director of football at Exeter, bizarrely started his own chant of ‘Theres only one Paul Tisdale’ which probably didn’t help matters at all.

    Fast forward to May 2018 and the aformentioned whispers were gathering pace. Darren Ferguson, Simon Grayson and then caretaker manager Keith Millen were names being mentioned in regards to the vacancy left by the unfortunate but inevitable sacking of the very likeable Dan Micciche.

    Yeh get on with it, whats changed?

    Im getting there, stay with me.

    Having spent time at Stadium MK around the first team it was clear to me that all wasnt well but the players clearly knew what was required but moral was ok considering but the legacy from the sackings of firstly Robbie Neilson then Dan Micchie to the brief stint of Keith Millen the players were asked to play in different styles with different tactics and do different things in training and all in a relatively short space of time with Micchie given from January to April to implement his ideas in an already pressurised situation with MK in a relagation fight and seemingly very little light at the end of the tunnel.

    Players and fans were together for the most part with the latter doing their upmost to stay with the team in what was looking back, inevitable relagation.

    After the Rochdale game last season Micciche had said he wanted 6 wins plus 4 more points to stay up.

    Micciche’s wishes in numbers

    Needless to say it didnt happen and Dons were relgated and big changes were needed. No matter what calculations i tried i couldnt get MK higher than 22nd.

    Example of one calculation

    Enter stage left a smartly dressed man born in Malta.

    Tisdale and a new era

    “Tisdale is renowned for ensuring his teams play short and tidy football” – Sky Sports top ten League managers 2008

    Tactically Paul Tisdale is one of, if not the best at League 2 level in regards to his teams playing style and game management.

    Tisdale’s Exeter sides in more recent seasons have played attractive, crowd pleasing football now results have varied with the highlight being a League 2 play off final last season albeit being well beaten by an excellent Marc McNulty inspired Coventry City side.

    Tisdale seemed to prefer a 4-3-3 shape whilst at Exeter but his thinking seems to have changed somewhat at MK Dons starting in pre season with variations on a 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2 as shown below in a pre season friendly against Oxford United

    MK Dons 4-4-1-1 vs Oxford United

    This clearly shows Tisdale’s ability to adapt to the players at his disposal and rightly so he is the manager after all.

    A summer of much needed new faces

    The signings of Jordan Moore-Taylor at centre back and the welcome return of Joe Walsh alongside him have added strength to a defence that leaked 69 league goals last season.

    But more importantly the addition of England Under 20 midfielder Jordan Houghton a confident passer and mature midfielder has been excellent business, MK Dons missed a ball playing midfielder like Houghton last year who could control the pace of a game, a much needed quality missing since the days of Darren Potter some might say. With the aid of a long awaited return from injury of Alex Gilbey the Dons midfield is finally looking much more solid.

    Ryan Harley, Lawson D’Ath, Ryan Watson, Mitch Hancox, and Robbie Simpson all came to Stadium MK all in relative quick succession it must be said and this points to Tisdale getting his house in order early so as to get plenty of time with the players and getting them into a system he believes they will be at their best in, being tactically flexible is a fantastic quality to have as a coach as well as being able to stick to a playing style of course.

    The appointments of Matt Oakley, Danny Butterfield and Tisdale’s DOF at Exeter Steve Perryman to the backroom staff is equally as important.

    Starting the campaign well

    Opening game vs Oldham (A)
    First home game vs Bury

    My pass maps above show the passing networks by MK Dons in the first two games and its clear to see how much more compact the team are this year. With the two wins one away at Oldham and the second at home to Bury setting up in a 4-2-3-1 away at Oldham and a 3-4-2-1 (both are variations on Tisdale’s favoured 4-3-3) against Bury the flexibility of the team not only reflects on the manager but also the fact the players have brought in to what he wants them to do something which was badly missing last season.

    Of course every manager wants to start a season well and as i said to people associated with the club building a winning mentality is key especially after last year and Tisdale seems to have done that so far with the Dons sitting in 3rd position in League 2 with 2 wins and and two draws after 4 games and with 6 different goal scorers already the signs are looking good.

    I sense there’s a but coming

    I have watch every game under Tisdale this year (apart from one pre season game in Spain) mostly on Wyscout due mainly to moving house and its clear things have changed for the better but im sure most Dons fans will agree that striking options are not at a premium with Chuks Aneke’s (top scorer last year with 9 league goals) future in doubt and Kieron Agard’s issues in hesitating when chances come his way this still needs to be sorted come January if no loan deals can be arranged before then with Robbie Simpson the only real option apart from the younger players Dylan Asonganyi, Sam Nombe and the pacey Brandon Thomas-Asante of course.

    I have gone on way to long and i hope its been interesting and i will revisit how things have progressed later on in the season.

    Thanks for reading!

    Gareth Cooper

    GC Analytics

    The Scouting Network

    Take a look at the services that thescoutingnetwork.co.uk can offer your club

    Opposition reports, detailed data and mathmatical driven scouting, traditional scouting, pre match analysis reports and so much more and all at very competitive prices.

    Keep an eye out for the blog on the website in the next week or so for detailed breakdowns of all the metrics we use when compiling our pre match data driven analysis reports if you have seen my articles and other work posted on here and you have been interested in finding out how it is done go to thescoutingnetwork.co.uk to find out more you won’t be dissapointed.

    Gareth Cooper

    Data Analyst @ thescoutingnetwork.co.uk