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Tuesday, January 01, 2013

OT: The Soccer Thread: January 2013

Because the first sporting event of 2013 that I watched was a soccer match.

fra paolo Posted: January 01, 2013 at 03:38 PM | 1784 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: soccer

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   901. Mattbert Posted: January 20, 2013 at 09:53 PM (#4351463)
Yeah, I think Cox got his analysis bang on. As usual. I've just been linking his writeup to Spurs fans who've been having a go at Bale with the usual tedious HE PLAYS ON THE LEFT! garbage.

The most illustrative thing in the ZM piece was that Bale received more than twice as many passes as Lennon did in the game. That is madness. With Lennon in the sort of form he's in right now, and United doubling and tripling up on Bale, Spurs have got to do a better job of switching play out to Lennon when it's obvious the opposition is mostly preoccupied with defending one side of the pitch. Especially after Evra got booked!
   902. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: January 20, 2013 at 10:08 PM (#4351483)
I'm really coming around on this twitter thing.


Twitter is phenomenal if you use it right.
   903. Mattbert Posted: January 20, 2013 at 10:13 PM (#4351505)
Offical AVB celebrationification gif.

I want a HQ one from the same angle as the Fox broadcast. They only had it for a couple seconds, but it had the AVB rawr face and Freund going mental as usual in the same frame. The other magnificent thing from the FSC feed? David Pleat pronouncing 'Kagawa' about five different ways, none of them even close to correct.

I also grew annoyed at the apparent new Premier League rule that fouls are not fouls when they are committed on Moussa Dembele.

He has inherited the Shaq/Peter Crouch curse (He's not fouling, he's just bigger than you!), but in reverse. The Moose is so big and strong that no man can possibly foul him; not even Kagawa hanging off his arm like Jeff Van Gundy on Alonzo Mourning.

Although that really looked like Rooney should have had a penalty, right?

Could easily have been a pen. That said, Rooney has perfected the art of knocking the ball way past a defender--where he'd have absolutely no chance of getting it if he's not touched--and then going over an outstretched leg. This wasn't as obvious an example of that "trick" as some of his past exploits, but if Bale has a history then so does Shrek. So f**k that guy.
   904. Mefisto Posted: January 20, 2013 at 10:52 PM (#4351577)
It could have been a penalty for Rooney, but I think it was right not to give it.

DeGea is a fantastic reaction shot blocker, maybe the best I've seen. I don't understand how Spurs could fail to give the ball to Lennon every time. Not only was Evra on a yellow, but so was Carrick (who was covering that side).
   905. user Posted: January 21, 2013 at 10:05 AM (#4351679)
Although that really looked like Rooney should have had a penalty, right?


Absolutely stonewall.
   906. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 21, 2013 at 10:15 AM (#4351681)
I like how Fergie conveniently forgets it was the same linesman who didn't call the OBVIOUS handball on Nani 2 years ago against Spurs. Ferguson is just tiresome.
   907. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 21, 2013 at 10:25 AM (#4351683)
He's Tony LaRussa with a Scottish accent and without a drinking problem. I never got particularly bothered by LaRussa's shtick, and Ferguson is so transparent in the way he coats his childish whines and middle-school barbs in old-timey manager speak, I dunno, I just enjoy the show.
   908. Swedish Chef Posted: January 21, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4351739)
I like how Fergie conveniently forgets it was the same linesman who didn't call the OBVIOUS handball on Nani 2 years ago against Spurs.

Unlike Tottenham fans he probably doesn't dwell on old #### for years and years. Get over it already.

Ferguson is just tiresome.

But I forget, this is Spurs Mope Factory...
   909. Swedish Chef Posted: January 21, 2013 at 12:30 PM (#4351744)
Lazio's Luciano Zauri was lowered into a well on a rope to rescue the granddaughter of the head of Poland's FA in Rome


I'm sure there's a perfectly logical explanation for how that situation arose, so I'm afraid to read on and to spoil the bizarreness.
   910. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 21, 2013 at 12:35 PM (#4351746)
To be fair, that's probably the least bizarre sentence that could be constructed from those particular words. How about:

Poland's FA was lowered into Rome on a rope to rescue the head of the granddaughter of Lazio's Luciano Zauri in a well.
   911. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 21, 2013 at 12:47 PM (#4351753)
Unlike Tottenham fans he probably doesn't dwell on old #### for years and years. Get over it already.

I didn't even realize it was the case until seeing in on a Man U blog. I'm not whining about the Nani call but about Ferguson's selective memory and his making every triumph of another team a story about him. So, how about you get over it.
   912. Swedish Chef Posted: January 21, 2013 at 01:08 PM (#4351770)
I'm not whining about the Nani call but about Ferguson's selective memory and his making every triumph of another team a story about him.

"If you're 1-0 up with a minute to go, you're comfortable at that stage," Ferguson said. "Tottenham worked their socks off, you have to give them credit for that. You cannot deny them the point as they worked ever so hard for it. They just kept pumping the ball in the box and got their reward because of that. We got used to the fact they were hitting long balls into the box and you would have thought we would have dealt with it better.

"Everyone would recognise that Tottenham was a difficult team. But we have [played] all the difficult games away from home so far, so I think we can be pleased on that part. Other teams will drop points here, there is no doubt about that. City still have to come here, I think. Tottenham are a very good team, very committed and will take points off the teams that maybe matter to us."


Happy now?
   913. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 21, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4351835)
Man Utd got outplayed and Ferguson acknowledged that. As mentioned in the Michael Cox article/blog, United were scared specifically of Bale and other players who can dribble. Dembele's and Lennon had tons of joy, even if United did a good job on Bale. Yet nothing on a physical defensive midfielder. Besides United's forwards, Vidic (who isn't 100% back) and maybe Carrick, I think I would take pretty much everyone on the Spurs.

Coutinho to Liverpool? I guess if they were unwilling to pay Sneijder's wages, might as well get his replacement at Inter. Is he going to displace anyone in the Liverpool front four. Suarez, Downing, Sturridge, Borini, Sterling look better now then what Liverpool had at the beginning of the season, plus there is Suso and Shelvey putzing around the fringes.
   914. Mefisto Posted: January 21, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4351851)
913 seems pretty hard to justify after a look at the table.
   915. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 21, 2013 at 02:57 PM (#4351863)
The quality difference between the Spurs and United's forwards is very, very large. Plus Ferguson is some sort of magician - so many teams seem to crap their pants when playing United.
   916. Mefisto Posted: January 21, 2013 at 03:37 PM (#4351900)
I think there's more to it than that. Here's a few:

1. For all his weakness on balls in the air, De Gea had a better day than Lloris, who I thought was out of position on the goal.

2. Jones was much better than Parker.*

3. United's central defense is much better than what the Spurs had on the field yesterday.

4. It's not really possible to compare the Utd. "wingers" to those of Spurs. Cleverly and Welbeck weren't true wingers; they had very different roles.

5. Rafael is much better than Naughton.

*In fairness, Parker is 10 years older and coming back from an injury. Parker at his peak would be a different story.
   917. Swedish Chef Posted: January 21, 2013 at 03:54 PM (#4351909)
Svennis has actually signed on as an advisor for al Nasr, and will surely be amply rewarded.

As for his future as a coach, he says he still feels young and in love with football. It is not known if football is planning to get a restraining order.
   918. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 21, 2013 at 03:54 PM (#4351910)
Happy now?

I think Ferguson's constant complaining about the referees and bullying those about a thousand rungs below him on the English football ladder who are trying the best they can is tiresome. Sue me.

Yet nothing on a physical defensive midfielder. Besides United's forwards, Vidic (who isn't 100% back) and maybe Carrick, I think I would take pretty much everyone on the Spurs.


Vidic is still pretty great, though. I'd agree Rafael is much better than Naughton, though, TBF to Naughton, he's really miscast on the left. He's done an ok job but I would love to see him rotate with Walker on the right. And yeah, Man U's forwards are about a million times better than Spurs'. Man U are just a much better team than Spurs. The only advantage Spurs really have is on the wing.

Anyway, I'm kind of fascinated by what will happen at Southampton today. What do you do if you're a Southampton fan? Adkins was treated harshly but do you make life difficult for the new guy when your position on the table is so precarious?

Also, I've lost track of how many Ligue 1 players Newcastle has signed or want to sign or have almost signed. They all seem like good players, though. Is there a reason they're so fixated on France?
   919. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 21, 2013 at 03:58 PM (#4351918)
6 games and 5 draws in AFCON so far. Has anyone seen any of the games?
   920. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 21, 2013 at 04:02 PM (#4351923)
-Pochettino (who it turns out looks like a nerd from a late 00s teen movie) makes no real changes to the Saints regular XI.

-Just watched the last half hour of Nigeria / Burkina Faso, and I was rewarded with a super-exciting injury time equalizer from Alain Traore, who looks like a world-class midfielder. Nigeria can fairly complain that Efe Ambrose's sending off was a bad call, but I think this result was nonetheless entirely just. The Super Eagles were so negative even before they went down to ten men, and had started egregiously time-wasting by the 65th minute or so, despite having just a one-goal lead and clearly superior overall talent. Annoying. Allez Les Etalons

-Oh, and that exciting injury-time goal - after playing defensively for the clean sheet the last half hour, Nigeria inexplicably got their entire midfield well into the opponents' half on their final attack, allowing Burkina Faso to counter-attack 4-on-4 for the equalizer.
   921. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 21, 2013 at 04:06 PM (#4351929)
Hup Burkina Faso Hup, as they say in Holland. And for that matter, Hup Cape Verde Hup.
   922. Ron J2 Posted: January 21, 2013 at 04:16 PM (#4351947)
#914 Besides the forwards is a pretty big deal. Man U is built around creating chances for a group of unusually good finishers. As I mentioned earlier in the thread, they're an unusually poor defensive team for a top side. It's not surprising that you could find a number of potential upgrades.
   923. Mattbert Posted: January 21, 2013 at 04:22 PM (#4351955)
In ManU's current state, I think Spurs are just a particularly bad matchup for them. There simply aren't any other teams in the Premier League that have Tottenham's obscene pace and direct dribbling ability on both flanks. The only team that comes close is...surprise!...ManU, and none of their three wingers were good candidates to start due to lack of form and/or fitness. Had Ashley Young been fit and Antonio Valencia been in the form he was in last season, then ManU would been able to cope better with Tottenham's threat from the wide areas and not had to defend so narrow. They would also have been more threatening themselves on the break.
   924. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 21, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4351963)
#914 Besides the forwards is a pretty big deal. Man U is built around creating chances for a group of unusually good finishers.
It's really besides the forwards and the central attacking midfielders. The far superior forward talent for United aren't just the finishers, they're also the advanced creative players (Kagawa, Rooney in his most common role this season) who produce chances for the other forwards to finish.

After that, you have a United team that is merely good in defense and deep midfield, and a Tottenham team that's peculiarly strong on the wings. So a man-by-man analysis might give you more Spurs wins than United wins, but that doesn't mean Spurs are the better side.
   925. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 21, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4351971)
As much as Evra's goals are nice, his defense has been bad for a couple years and as you guys said Naughton is not a left back, plus Benny and his 'fro are back. Rafael is decent going forward and is definitely a guy who puts in a ton of effort on defense but he's short, and prone to losing his temper - I don't know enough to say he is better or worse than Walker. Spurs outplayed United in both games this season and some would say outplayed badly. United basically reshaped a lot of team to counteract Spurs. There is obviously more consistency and a "winning mentality" in United's side but two head-to-head matchups makes that difficult to overlook despite the small sample size. I wonder how many more points Spurs would have if they had better strikers. Conversely, I shudder to think how many points dropped United would have without RvP.

Also, I've lost track of how many Ligue 1 players Newcastle has signed or want to sign or have almost signed. They all seem like good players, though. Is there a reason they're so fixated on France?


Is it because they are relatively cheap? Other than PSG there isn't that much money in France. Ashley spent like the drunken fan he is when he first bought the team but now he's shown a fair amount of restraint, even when he got the Andy Carroll bonanza. They obviously have good scouts in France.

Spain seems to be a good place to go looking for talent. Other than the big two, a lot of the teams are pretty cash poor. Finding good starters shouldn't be too hard or expensive, especially if you're in the middle to bottom of the table - you don't need spend tons of money on a Falcao or Llorrente to find an upgrade.
   926. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: January 21, 2013 at 05:59 PM (#4352026)
Conversely, I shudder to think how many points dropped United would have without RvP.

Yeah. It's funny to think back now about how some people thought it was weird for ManU to go after RvP. Where would they be this season without him?
   927. Mattbert Posted: January 21, 2013 at 06:04 PM (#4352033)
Spurs outplayed United in both games this season and some would say outplayed badly.

I don't know. Spurs were deadly in the first half at Old Trafford, but I'd say ManU really should have won that game 4-3 or 5-3 with the chances they had. Conversely, I feel like 4-2 to Spurs would have been a more representative scoreline in yesterday's game.

Both games were slightly weird, but I'd go with the game at Old Trafford as the weirder of the two because both teams weren't their usual selves in front of goal. Tottenham's typical profligacy was nowhere to be seen as they finished off 3 of 11 attempts on goal, and ManU was uncharacteristically poor at finishing (especially in the second half - they only had one shot in the first) as they only converted 2 of 16 attempts, several of which were excellent chances.
   928. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 21, 2013 at 06:07 PM (#4352037)
Yeah. It's funny to think back now about how some people thought it was weird for ManU to go after RvP. Where would they be this season without him?
This is a good point. At least for me, I think I was making the classic mistake of imagining that there are bonus points for building a balanced team. United did already have a great attack and flawed defense when they signed RVP, but signing him made their attack maybe the 2nd or 3rd best in the world, which made United in turn league favorites. (Well, that, and Roberto Mancini again building a club that's significantly less than the sum of its parts put United in this position.) I wasn't wrong to think that United could usefully strengthen their team elsewhere, particularly deeper in midfield, but that's not a good argument against purchasing the best striker in England.
   929. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 21, 2013 at 06:15 PM (#4352047)
Conversely, I feel like 4-2 to Spurs would have been a more representative scoreline in yesterday's game.
Quibbling: you think Man U representatively should have converted 100% of their shots on target? I'd say 2-1 or 3-1, based on the numbers.

Based on the watching, 1-1 or 2-1 feels right.

EDIT: And looking at the numbers, 11 of 25 Spurs attempts on goal were blocked before reaching the keeper. That strongly suggests that generally they weren't breaking through the United defense. Only 8 of 25 shots were taken inside the box, and 8 of 25 reached the target. Really, by the numbers, it shouldn't have been more than three goals, and two is probably the most likely. Give demerits for the finishing form of Dempsey and Defoe, maybe it should be just one.
   930. Mattbert Posted: January 21, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4352054)
Spain seems to be a good place to go looking for talent. Other than the big two, a lot of the teams are pretty cash poor. Finding good starters shouldn't be too hard or expensive, especially if you're in the middle to bottom of the table - you don't need spend tons of money on a Falcao or Llorente to find an upgrade.

Heck, you don't even need to pay scouts to find those Spanish sleepers like Michu! (Okay, slight exaggeration.)
But when it comes to the January transfer window – football's irrational global hypermarket – clubs are realising that using advanced-data analytics is sensible soccer-nomics. Even the biggest clubs find it impossible to assess every potential target, let alone the Championship manager hunting for bargains to keep his team up.

The analytics, for instance, suggested that Michu was hugely undervalued at Rayo Vallecano. But data remains a starting point, not a solution. As OptaPro's Simon Farrant admits: "We can't tell you how a player behaves off the pitch. But when clubs want to know whether a target could do a certain job, that's something we can answer."
   931. Mattbert Posted: January 21, 2013 at 06:25 PM (#4352058)
Quibbling: you think Man U representatively should have converted 100% of their shots on target?

Nah, but I'm assuming they would have converted the penalty had it been given. Then again, maybe that's a bad assumption. United have missed three of their five spot kicks this season.

And looking at the numbers, 11 of 25 Spurs attempts on goal were blocked before reaching the keeper. That strongly suggests that generally they weren't breaking through the United defense. Only 8 of 25 shots were taken inside the box, and 8 of 25 reached the target. Really, by the numbers, it shouldn't have been more than three goals, and two is probably the most likely. Give demerits for the finishing form of Dempsey and Defoe, maybe it should be just one.

Form or not, I expected Defoe and Dempsey to put those two chances away. They weren't sitters, but they were opportunities that even a struggling forward will bury far more often than not. So that gets us to three. Point absolutely taken on all the blocks. A lot of those were bad decisions to shoot. But a few got through and were dangerous, both from Bale: the one that De Gea somehow saved with his knee in the first half and the one Rio almost headed into his own net in the second half.
   932. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 21, 2013 at 06:29 PM (#4352063)
Nah, but I'm assuming they would have converted the penalty had it been given. Then again, maybe that's a bad assumption. United have missed three of their five spot kicks this season.
I'm really quibbling, but I can't seem to help it. The assumption I'm arguing against is taking the RVP goal for granted as a representative moment in the game. There was a major defensive breakdown there, combined with an excellent cross and a good finish. That's not representative of the game - it was a smash-and-grab.

United had two shots on target and two Opta-classified "big chances". One goal is about right, and zero is probably more likely than two based on what they created. Obviously arguing about zero / one / two goals is really marginal, so I'll stop now.
   933. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 21, 2013 at 06:53 PM (#4352083)
There seems to be a growing Merseyside goal conversion trend. It's not just Liverpool. Everton today against Southampton managed four "big chances" and five shots on target, no goals to show for it. On the season they're fourth worst in the EPL in converting shots on target, and unlike most of the bottom clubs, they're clearly creating high quality chances (3rd in "big chances", 4th in percentage of shots taken inside the box). Is it just bad luck? My hypothesis mostly remains, yeah, bad luck. But any other ideas?

Tottenham currently dead last in the EPL in percentage of shots taken inside the box. They're at 44%, while everyone else other than QPR (49%) has taken the majority of their shots from inside the penalty area. Looking at the numbers, I'm wondering if what Spurs need is less a striker or a deep-lying playmaker, and more an advanced creative type - perhaps, you know, maybe they need somebody a lot like Rafael van der Vaart.
   934. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 21, 2013 at 07:09 PM (#4352095)
Saints played well tonight despite being down to 10 men briefly while Puncheon left to take a crap.
   935. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 21, 2013 at 07:10 PM (#4352097)
I missed the game, but it appears from the internets that the primary highlight was Southampton's crowd recognizing why Jason Puncheon left the pitch around the 70th minute.

EDIT: Coke, or... to Shooty.
   936. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 21, 2013 at 07:48 PM (#4352129)
And on the subject of Spurs and creative advanced midfielders, Schalke turned down €1M for Holtby. Reportedly they're holding out for €2M. If that's correct, then obviously this gets done before January ends.
   937. Mattbert Posted: January 21, 2013 at 10:15 PM (#4352215)
There seems to be a growing Merseyside goal conversion trend. It's not just Liverpool. Everton today against Southampton managed four "big chances" and five shots on target, no goals to show for it. On the season they're fourth worst in the EPL in converting shots on target, and unlike most of the bottom clubs, they're clearly creating high quality chances (3rd in "big chances", 4th in percentage of shots taken inside the box). Is it just bad luck? My hypothesis mostly remains, yeah, bad luck. But any other ideas?

Jelavic leads the team in shots. Cow's arse. Banjo. You know the rest. (Okay, not helpful.)

I guess the data discussed upthread a ways doesn't really support this, but it seems like a guy who's struggling to put the ball on target would also struggle to put his shots in a difficult part of the goal for the keeper to save. Sort of like the relationship between command and control in baseball. If you look at a pitcher who walks a ton of guys, are you going to be surprised that he's not painting the black at the knees on the occasions he is in the strike zone?

So if you look at a striker with significantly more shots off target than on (Jelavic is at 41% accuracy, according to Squawka), should we be surprised if he's also struggling to work the keeper when he does get it on frame? It sure looks like a lot of his attempts are either in the middle of the goal or at "a nice height" for the keeper. Contrast his shot map with those of van Persie and Suarez (which are eerily similar, by the way). Or that of Defoe. Or Demba Ba. The thing that jumps out at me is that all these guys who are scoring a lot appear to have a pretty reliable ability to shoot just inside the keeper's lefthand post (right side if you're looking at the goal). Defoe in particular has an incredibly tight cluster of shots in that area. Jelavic has nothing like that. Fellaini does, though.

I don't know if there's anything predictive to be learned from that, but it is a very clear pattern. I think this may be an instance of there being no substitute for watching a lot of games if you're trying to bottom out a real outlier like that.

For example, Fellaini's a very accurate shooter (69%), but his conversion rate is merely good and not as outrageously good as his overall accuracy would suggest. Are a high proportion of his shots on target (he's second in the team in total shots) from headers? I would not be surprised if the conversion rate on headers is significantly lower than "footed" shots. It certainly seems like a more difficult skill, with a much higher chance of the header going slightly askew or being a little powderpuff looping job because you didn't quite catch it right. On the other hand, most headed shots are from close to goal so maybe that balances things out when you factor in all the speculative long-range footed efforts from outside the box.
   938. SuperGrover Posted: January 21, 2013 at 10:34 PM (#4352230)
There seems to be a growing Merseyside goal conversion trend. It's not just Liverpool. Everton today against Southampton managed four "big chances" and five shots on target, no goals to show for it. On the season they're fourth worst in the EPL in converting shots on target, and unlike most of the bottom clubs, they're clearly creating high quality chances (3rd in "big chances", 4th in percentage of shots taken inside the box). Is it just bad luck? My hypothesis mostly remains, yeah, bad luck. But any other ideas?


I wouldn't say it's growing as Liverpool has been better recently and the early returns for Sturridge suggest they have more room for improvement. I guess that's what happens when legitimate forwards are on the end of Suarez-created chances rather than the likes of Jonjo Shelvey.

As for Everton, Jelavic is just awful right now. He has 2 goals from his last 41 shots, 36 of which came in the box. His positional awareness and timing is hideous. Today, he decided to screw up before he could even get the ball out of his feet. He's just a bad player right now.

Mirallas looks a lot better, but his numbers are about the same. If I am Moyes, I am probably sticking with Anichebe for the time being and trying Mirallas-Fellaini-Pienaar in support. To me, that is the best lineup, presuming fitness allows it.

EDIT: Or Coke for some of the same thoughts as above.
   939. SuperGrover Posted: January 21, 2013 at 10:42 PM (#4352239)
As for headed goal, Fellaini heads about 45% of his SIB while Jelavic is at 40%, unsurprisingly well above RVP (19%) or Suarez (10%). However, other forwards with high header totals show much better conversion rates than Jelly, specifically Lambert (45% headed) and Ba (33%). Obviously, these one-offs don't prove anything but thought I would present for comparison.
   940. SuperGrover Posted: January 21, 2013 at 10:45 PM (#4352240)
So if you look at a striker with significantly more shots off target than on (Jelavic is at 41% accuracy, according to Squawka), should we be surprised if he's also struggling to work the keeper when he does get it on frame?


BTW, for the data available there is no strong correlation between shot accuracy and conversion rates for shots on target. While there may be some truth to the hypothesis, it does not show in the numbers.
   941. Mattbert Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:25 PM (#4352274)
BTW, for the data available there is no strong correlation between shot accuracy and conversion rates for shots on target. While there may be some truth to the hypothesis, it does not show in the numbers.

Yep, that's what I was alluding to in the earlier part of that comment. I continue to find it a very frustrating failure on the part of the data. Stupid data.
   942. puck Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:39 PM (#4352288)
Are your opta stats by league? I wonder if there are different hit rates and ratios of goals to goals+big chances etc. for different leagues. What I wonder is if there's any way to tell if players in the bigger leagues are more able to aim their shots on target or if it really is just a crapshoot...a certain % of goals per shots on target score.

I guess in a lesser league like MLS, the attackers could be less accurate. But the defenders and goalkeepers might not be as good, either. Sure seems like there's a higher proportion of "golazos" in high end leagues than MLS. But MLS fans would say that's just Euro-snobbery-vision.
   943. I am going to be Frank Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:50 AM (#4352326)
Moyes' inability to find even a decent striker is quite amazing. Jelavic didn't look terrible last year but has been this year. A couple years ago Moyes played without a striker - (Cahill was in the most advanced role) maybe he should try it with Fellaini.

   944. puck Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:59 AM (#4352332)
Jelavic was on a hot streak last year after joining the Toffees. It was a big reason for their 2nd half surge. I guess this year is regression to the mean?
   945. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:09 AM (#4352339)
Why, posted just yesterday on When Saturday Comes:

A passage in David Weir’s book Extra Time might lend some insight into Jelavic’s lack of sharpness in front of goal compared with last term. Weir reflects on the difficulties that all of Moyes’s strikers – not least Beattie, the man in the spotlight at St Mary’s eight years ago – faced in performing consistently over a sustained period of time, and he makes an instructive point when he says: “Probably the best, over a period of time, was Marcus Bent in that good season we had but you could only play four or five games at that level, with the workrate the manager wanted, while trying to score goals and then you needed a rest.” Everton’s small, tight-knit squad may be a virtue in some regards, but perhaps not for the centre-forwards.
   946. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 10:12 AM (#4352402)
Haidara and Yanga-Mbiwa are set for Newcastle. They're really looking to shore up the defense this window and they already have Debuchy, too. They're also supposed to be working hard on bringing in Moussa Sissoko. These are all good players, but is there enough time to work so many new players into the system? Wenger has often said he never wanted to add any more than a couple of new players at a time because it was hard to rework a team on the fly. I wonder if Pardew is up for it.

Arsenal and Spurs both seem to be sniffing around Diame from West Ham. He seems like a no-brainer for both clubs with that 3.5 million release clause.
   947. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 10:16 AM (#4352406)
Oh yeah, and I finished Wilson's book on Clough. It's definitely worth the read and I can only imagine how a Clough-Roy Keane relationship would have worked in an internet/social media world. Clough bought Keane for 10 thousand pounds, by the way, and he did it post-Peter Taylor. Anyway, after reading the book it's hard to say whether I "like" or "dislike" Clough which is a credit to Wilson, I think.
   948. Mattbert Posted: January 22, 2013 at 10:26 AM (#4352414)
Haidara and Yanga-Mbiwa are set for Newcastle. They're really looking to shore up the defense this window and they already have Debuchy, too. They're also supposed to be working hard on bringing in Moussa Sissoko.

Andy Brassell tweets:
Montpellier president Louis Nicollin on typically hilarious form in today's L'Equipe. On Yanga-Mbiwa choosing Newcastle: "If he's an idiot, it's not my fault. The key thing is that it's bringing in a bit of cash."
Brassell also cites Le Parisien reporting it's Momo Sissoko (PSG), not Moussa Sissoko (Toulouse), who Newcastle are trying to sign. Too many Sissokos!
   949. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4352416)
Brassell also cites Le Parisien reporting it's Momo Sissoko (PSG), not Moussa Sissoko (Toulouse), who Newcastle are trying to sign. Too many Sissokos!

Ah. I hope Newcastle aren't as confused by that as I am.
   950. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 22, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4352417)

Arsenal and Spurs both seem to be sniffing around Diame from West Ham. He seems like a no-brainer for both clubs with that 3.5 million release clause.
"Release clause" means you're released from your contract and free to sign a new contract with the team that paid it, right? So it would seem then that wages would be a significant cost to acquiring a player through a release clause, since he has the right to refuse the new contract and one assumes with the North London rivals in the bidding, he'd be looking for significant money.
   951. Mattbert Posted: January 22, 2013 at 10:33 AM (#4352420)
Ah. I hope Newcastle aren't as confused by that as I am.

I would say it's at least odds even that it's Le Parisiene that's confused.
   952. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 10:34 AM (#4352422)
"Release clause" means you're released from your contract and free to sign a new contract with the team that paid it, right? So it would seem then that wages would be a significant cost to acquiring a player through a release clause, since he has the right to refuse the new contract and one assumes with the North London rivals in the bidding, he'd be looking for significant money.

I just assume he'd make more at Spurs or Arsenal but I don't see a bigger club than Arsenal coming in for him. I'm sure he'd want a pay raise but I don't think he's in the bargaining position Demba Ba was in to hold a club's feet to the fire.
   953. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 10:53 AM (#4352427)
Almost time for Togo-Ivory Coast! Togo--and Adebayor--had their hotel rooms robbed yesterday. Adebayor must really love playing the AFCON...
   954. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4352431)
Adebayor should have just scored! His Tottenham form is carrying over to South Africa.
   955. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 11:09 AM (#4352434)
Yaya Toure opens the scoring after some terrible play by Togo.
   956. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 22, 2013 at 11:35 AM (#4352447)
Cote d'Ivoire are letting Togo roam freely up to the edge of the eighteen-yard box, at which point Togo's midfielders are firing wildly in the general direction of the goal. It's a weird game.
   957. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 11:36 AM (#4352448)
Kolo Toure is being very physical with his old pal Adebayor. Ha!
   958. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 22, 2013 at 11:49 AM (#4352465)
Does Togo's coach have the worst dye job in the history of hairdressing, the worst wig ever imagined? Or perhaps both?

Ayite! Poor Cote d'Ivoire, though 1-1 is a deserved score at this point. They need to defend in midfield, which is particularly weird for a club anchored by Yaya Toure.
   959. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4352468)
Ayite! Poor Cote d'Ivoire, though 1-1 is a deserved score at this point. They need to defend in midfield, which is particularly weird for a club anchored by Yaya Toure.

I wonder how hot it is--the game seems like it's being played in slow motion.
   960. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 22, 2013 at 11:53 AM (#4352469)
Good point.

Yup, it's 90 with clear skies and sun.
   961. JuanGone..except1game Posted: January 22, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4352474)
Ayite! Poor Cote d'Ivoire, though 1-1 is a deserved score at this point. They need to defend in midfield, which is particularly weird for a club anchored by Yaya Toure.


So angry that I can't watch this right now. Reading the Goal commentary, it sounds like Gakpe is dominating through the midfield. A mate of mine who lives in France has been hyping him to me for a few years. Cote d'Ivoire should be dominating this match.
   962. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4352485)
I was going to say that between the jerseys and the team nicknames, the Cup of Nations is the most aesthetically pleasing tournament, but god damn vuvuzelas ruin it.
   963. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4352498)
That was bizarre.
   964. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4352502)
See what happens with Gakpe out. Looked like he had a cramp a few minutes ago. He's been the heart of the Togo attack.
   965. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4352503)
Another Frenchy for Newcastle! Yoan Gouffran, a striker from Bourdeaux. I know nothing about him but that's now 4 Ligue 1 players they've signed this window and they seem to be working on a 5th.
   966. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4352504)
Tiote comes on mainly because this game needs more mohawks.
   967. Swedish Chef Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:34 PM (#4352519)
"Release clause" means you're released from your contract and free to sign a new contract with the team that paid it, right? So it would seem then that wages would be a significant cost to acquiring a player through a release clause, since he has the right to refuse the new contract and one assumes with the North London rivals in the bidding, he'd be looking for significant money.

That doesn't matter really, release clause or no, players can't be moved against their will, so a new contract have to be negotiated in any transfer and players moving to big clubs always want to be paid like a king.

EDIT: What I mean is that agents don't give a ####, of course they love to put the release clauses in there to make their players tempting targets. But just as they will use a low transfer fee to argue for bigger wages for their players, so will they see a huge fee as a reason for the pay packet to be commensurately big.
   968. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4352526)
Gervinho with a clutch goal? Holy crap!
   969. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:47 PM (#4352528)
Gervinho! Deserved, too - he's been the source of most of Cote d'Ivoire's goal threat, and that was a pretty ridiculous angle on the finish.

If he doesn't have time to think, it seems, he can do some amazing things.

(and thanks for the clarification, SC.)
   970. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4352536)
Wow. Thought Togo had the equalizer there.
   971. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4352567)
I had always imagined that weather was the reason they played the ACN in January. But if it's 90 degrees now, what's the point?

(I suppose the answer is, "if it's 90 degrees now, imagine what it will be in August," but still...)
   972. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:22 PM (#4352572)
(I suppose the answer is, "if it's 90 degrees now, imagine what it will be in August," but still...)

It can get pretty chilly in parts of SA in August, especially along the coast. Do they have it in January so as not to exclude the North African countries from being able to host?
   973. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:23 PM (#4352573)
Well, Africa is big. Some parts of Africa are at their coldest in January, but South Africa is at its hottest.
   974. Mattbert Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:24 PM (#4352576)
Another Frenchy for Newcastle!

Embedded agent Joey Barton is doing a fine job on his mission to scare them all out of Ligue 1. Meanwhile, Derek Llambias waits at the ferry terminal in Calais with a big net.
   975. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:28 PM (#4352579)
I had always imagined that weather was the reason they played the ACN in January. But if it's 90 degrees now, what's the point?


Well they're in South Africa, where it's summer. If it was in north Africa, the weather wouldn't be dramatically different.
   976. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:29 PM (#4352581)
Spurs financial news.

1. Lose out on CL in the most heartbreaking way possible.
2. Sell your talisman and the club's most popular player.
3. ??????
4. Profit!

Except, for real.
   977. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:30 PM (#4352582)
Well they're in South Africa, where it's summer. If it was in north Africa, the weather wouldn't be much different. It would be a little cooler but not significantly so.
So then why do they have it completely off-sequence with virtually every other major tournament?
   978. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:36 PM (#4352584)
So then why do they have it completely off-sequence with virtually every other major tournament?


Because you can't play it in other nations in the summer.

Right now my girlfriend is in Luxor. It's 6pm and 80 degrees. In the summer it's 120 during the day.
   979. Mattbert Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4352588)
So then why do they have it completely off-sequence with virtually every other major tournament?

This is just a guess, but maybe the austral summer was the least disruptive time to hold the ACN back in the day. The tournament dates back well over 50 years, when the big European leagues were not the magnets of globe-wide talent that they are now and most of the participants would have been playing in some sort of domestic/local league. Again, this is a guess. I have no idea if such leagues were very influential in setting the greater football calendar in Africa 50-something years ago, or if they even player an austral fall-winter-spring schedule (i.e. the inverse of the current European schedule).

EDIT: Ah, forget it. I see most of the original participating nations are north of the equator.
   980. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:43 PM (#4352592)
I didn't even notice this during the game today.

If only they'd let me do this during my Little League hey day...
   981. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:53 PM (#4352600)
Also, re: weather and the AFCON, we shouldn't forget that Libya was supposed to host the tournament and they had to move it for, um, obvious reasons. South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa with the infrastructure in place to do it on short notice. Egypt could, too, but, you know...
   982. Mattbert Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:54 PM (#4352601)
1. Lose out on CL in the most heartbreaking way possible.
2. Sell your talisman and the club's most popular player.
3. ??????
4. Profit!


I think #2 has a lot to do with #4.

I read the accompanying statement as Levy's diplomatic way of pointing out that he can buy shiny, new players or build a shiny, new stadium but not both. So no b!tching about a "lack of ambition" in the January window, plebeians.
   983. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:58 PM (#4352604)
Also, re: weather and the AFCON, we shouldn't forget that Libya was supposed to host the tournament and they had to move it for, um, obvious reasons. South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa with the infrastructure in place to do it on short notice.


Yeah, but all they did was flip it with 2017. So we would have been having this conversation 4 years from now. The short notice change of venue is a reason for empty seats though.
   984. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:02 PM (#4352609)
I read the accompanying statement as Levy's diplomatic way of pointing out that he can buy shiny, new players or build a shiny, new stadium but not both. So no b!tching about a "lack of ambition" in the January window, plebeians.

I don't know why Spurs fans always think the club is going to go nuts in the transfer market. That year of the Klinsmann really messed with a lot of people's heads.
   985. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4352617)
I don't know why Spurs fans always think the club is going to go nuts in the transfer market.
I'll go ahead and blame the media. If you follow English sports media at all, you read constant stories linking Spurs to a variety of £20M rated stars. It's hard not get hopeful after the twenty-seventh story about Willian's impending move to North London. The incompetence and venality of the English sports media, which puts to shame (or, I guess, puts to pride) that of the American sports media is my primary culprit.

I do think that Holtby seems reasonably likely to join Spurs before the window closes. It's reportedly only €2M. That can be done even within a very tight budget.
I read the accompanying statement as Levy's diplomatic way of pointing out that he can buy shiny, new players or build a shiny, new stadium but not both. So no b!tching about a "lack of ambition" in the January window, plebeians.
Maybe, but were Spurs required to release their financials today? The only headline that's going to come out of this is "Spurs turn big profit in 2012". That's not a story you release to get the fans off your back.
   986. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4352619)
I do think that Holtby seems reasonably likely to join Spurs before the window closes. It's reportedly only €2M. That can be done even within a very tight budget.

I think it will happen, too. I wonder if Huddlestone looking a little fitter and livelier Sunday changes the equation at all. He looked noticeable thinner to my eyes.

Maybe, but were Spurs required to release their financials today?

A question custom built for ursus...
   987. Mattbert Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4352620)
I don't know why Spurs fans always think the club is going to go nuts in the transfer market. That year of the Klinsmann really messed with a lot of people's heads.

Too, the 2008 summer window was totally bonkers. Not really in an ambitious way, but the club did bring in Modric, Bentley, dos Santos, Pavlyuchenko, Corluka, and Gomes that summer. Kinda nuts in retrospect.
   988. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4352625)
Too, the 2008 summer window was totally bonkers. Not really in an ambitious way, but the club did bring in Modric, Bentley, dos Santos, Pavlyuchenko, Corluka, and Gomes that summer. Kinda nuts in retrospect.

This last summer was nutty too--Lloris, Dembele, Dempsey, Vertonghen and Fryers (I'm counting him!). But again, no single break the bank player. ENIC likes to diversify their risk.
   989. Mattbert Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4352632)
Sigurdsson and Adebayor too.
   990. Mattbert Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:29 PM (#4352639)
@Sammy_Ameobi: Need to brush up on my French because this is just getting ridiculous lol
   991. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:32 PM (#4352644)
Sigurdsson and Adebayor too.

Ha! I knew I was forgetting a couple.
   992. Topher Posted: January 22, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4352661)
Anybody willing to do a quick primer on how MLS transfers work? Maybe even using Brek Shea as an example?

I'm confused as to who arranges the transfer, who finalizes the transfer, what happens with the money, etc.
   993. SuperGrover Posted: January 22, 2013 at 03:00 PM (#4352667)
Haidara and Yanga-Mbiwa are set for Newcastle. They're really looking to shore up the defense this window and they already have Debuchy, too. They're also supposed to be working hard on bringing in Moussa Sissoko. These are all good players, but is there enough time to work so many new players into the system? Wenger has often said he never wanted to add any more than a couple of new players at a time because it was hard to rework a team on the fly. I wonder if Pardew is up for it.


Not sure he has a choice. They have been playing about the worst defense in the league for two months. They are beat all to Hell and with the loss of Ba no longer have an on form striker to rely upon. They are in clear relegation danger if something isn't done.

That's not to say these will work out, but I honestly think they get relegated with the club they have now.
   994. SuperGrover Posted: January 22, 2013 at 03:01 PM (#4352670)
Jelavic was on a hot streak last year after joining the Toffees. It was a big reason for their 2nd half surge. I guess this year is regression to the mean?


No idea, but he makes Fernando Torres look like Robin Van Persie. He is truly awful.
   995. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4352675)
I'm confused as to who arranges the transfer, who finalizes the transfer, what happens with the money, etc.

You and me both! puck would be a good resource for this if he pops in. I think transfers are arranged by the MLS office but I'm not sure how much the club gets, etc. Things are in constant evolution, too, with MLS so I find it hard to keep up with.
   996. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: January 22, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4352691)
MLS has to finalize the transfer. They've vetoed a few transfers before (Shalrie Joseph twice to Celtic, Olaf Mellburg to TFC immediately come to mind). Remember, the league owns all the contracts, so they have final say. They get a third of the transfer fee too.
   997. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: January 22, 2013 at 03:41 PM (#4352700)
2. Sell your talisman and the club's most popular player.

Slight quibble, but was Modric really more popular than Bale?
   998. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 03:43 PM (#4352701)
Slight quibble, but was Modric really more popular than Bale?

I was talking about Van der Vaart!

   999. DA Baracus is a "bloodthirsty fan of Atlanta." Posted: January 22, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4352702)
Damn, was there TwatBall for CAN? Because someone just got subbed off after earlier being subbed in.
   1000. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 22, 2013 at 03:50 PM (#4352704)
Nothing against Villa, but come on Bradford City!
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