City Blogger: Lies, damn lies, and statistics.
- 14 November 2013 13:38
- Posted by @bifana_bifana
Following the recent announcement of the team of eight City Bloggers from around the world who will be writing for us this season, it's time for the next piece courtesy of Simon Curtis...
If you Google “Manchester City’s away form” (don’t do this at home, kids), you will find yourself bombarded by a shocking variety of headlines featuring the words “worried”, “perplexed”, at least one “bamboozled”, “negative effect on title hopes”, “downward trend” and “bringing down a plague of locusts on the entire community of Greater Manchester”.
I may have made the last one up, but you get the approximate picture. It is a calamity, wrapped up in a disaster, waiting to explode all over us. Clearly City’s perfect home record is going a long way to balancing out what is happening away from The Etihad, but let us take a minute to analyse those four away defeats.
Each one has been by a single goal. 3-2 at Cardiff and Villa, 2-1 at Chelsea and 1-0 at Sunderland.
The two three-two matches, let us call them five goal thrillers for want of a more appropriate phrase (somebody must have been thrilled by them, I imagine), saw City finishing with overwhelming possession, shots on and off and corner stats (yes, I know, but bear with me just a little longer).
Anyone who witnessed the Chelsea match would be hard pressed to say that the eventual defeat was deserved and, as for the Stadium of Light last weekend, just where are you meant to start in analysing a game like that? Sunderland – the home side, lest we forget- started the match in a crab formation, scuttling backwards and sideways, scored a goal slightly out of the blue, then reverted to living under their shell. City had 63% ball possession and made 574 passes to Sunderland’s 298, 24 shots to Sunderland’s 5. On top of everything, on a day when three of Jupiter’s moons aligned themselves with the top of Romark’s head to cause what experts call “severe polar confusion”, the winning goal was scored by one David Bardsley esquire.
Most stunning of all, of the top 18 pass combinations between players during the match, only two featured passes between home players. (Bardsley to Ki, 10 times, and Ki to Brown ten times, making a neat little self-perpetuating triangle somewhere inside their own half)..
Haul your minds back to Cardiff, if you will. It’s ok, the pain is almost over. 70% possession for City; 561 passes completed to the home side’s 191; 17 of the top 18 pass combinations between City players. 16 shots to 9.
Then Villa Park: 67% possession for City. 487 passes completed to Villa’s 192; All eighteen of the top pass combinations during the match were between City players! 13 corners to the home side’s 2.
Stamford Bridge, where you might expect it to be a different story. City had 54% of possession, had 6 of the match’s nine corners, made 404 passes to the home side’s 332. Of the pass combinations, 12 of the top 18 were between City players.
These numbers tell a clear story of the Blues’ season so far on the road. Massive amounts of possession, the vast majority of the successful passing, more corners, more shots on goal than each of the hosts in each of the games. Much, much more. A similar story surfaced in the successful outings to West Ham, Plzen, Moscow and Newcastle.
Oddly, the stats for the demolition of Norwich are not far beyond what we see for the Cardiff, Villa and Sunderland matches. So, how can this be? Experts have blamed butter-coated goalkeeping gloves, rusty tactics, misshapen line-ups, Keystone Cops defending and The Great Evil Eye, but in reality it comes down to something we have been aware of for decades.
Two words that I dare not repeat here.