The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse through the eyes of Stats by Josif
This might turn out to be one of the most boring seasons in the Top 3 European leagues. It’s only mid-February and it seems that we already know who will win the title in England, Germany and Spain. It’s interesting to notice that all the teams leading in their respective countries were runners-up last season.
It seems that there are no questions regarding the future champions of England. FAnchester United are currently 12 points clear ahead of their closest rivals Manchester Oilers with only 12 games left. That means the gap between the 1st and 2nd team on the table is larger than the points between 2nd and 6th (Manchester Oilers 53-Everton 42). It will turn out to be pretty convincing title for FAnchester United despite the fact they have won nine games after going behind their opponents and their defense has been only joint sixth in the league so far. Of course, there is a well-known reason for the FAnchester United domination – our former captain that was sold for 24 million pounds has scored 19 goals and made 10 assists so far – but it’s another statistical dimension of their attack that suggests where is a difference between them and their London rivals who follow them in goal-scoring department.
FAnchester United have scored 62 goals in 26 matches (2.38 per match), seven more than the Chavs and 12 more than we have, but their 62 goals were more widely distributed. Their highest scoring game were those in which they scored four goals (twice against Wigan, once against Stoke, Reading and Newcastle) which leaves them with 42 goals distributed over 21 games (two per game). That means they scored 32 percent of their goals in the five aforementioned games or 19.2 percent.
We have scored 50 (1.92 per game) so far which is not bad thing, especially given that we lost last seasons top scorer, but it should be said that we had put seven past Newcastle, six past Southampton and five past Spuds, Reading and West Ham which leaves us with only 22 goals distributed over 21 games (just a little bit more than one goal per game). That means we have scored 56 percent of our goals in just the five matches or 19.2 percent of games played.
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The Chavs have scored 55 goals with their best attacking performance with eight against Aston Villa, four against Norwich, Reading, Stoke, Spuds and Wigan which leaves them with 27 goals scored in 20 games (1.35 per game). That means the Chavs have scored 50.9 percent of their goals in just the six matches which is 23 percent of matches played so far.
It is clear from this statistics that FAnchester United have been far more consistent than their London rivals and that difference is reflected by the double-digits point gap on the table.
Some might argue with my personal opinion, but the Bundesliga was the best competition in Europe last season. Sure, it had a two-horses title-race just like England or Spain but the rest of the league seemed to be far more competitive than in England or Spain where the Manchester clubs and El Classico-rivals respectively established their duopoly.
However, it seems that it won’t be the case this season. Our next opponents in the Champions’ League FC Bayern Muenchen have been dominating this season in a way that makes every other club supporters frustrated. They are 15 points clear ahead of 2nd-placed Borussia Dortmund with 13 games to play. They have scored 55 goals in 21 games (2.6 goals per game) and allowed their opponents to score just seven goals in 21 games (one goal after every three games). They have scored in every match in the Bundesliga so far with scoring less than two goals on just four occasions (and those four matches were the ones Bayern didn’t win). The Bavarians are enjoying some astonishing away form this season – they won 9 out of 10 away games with a goal-difference of 25:1.
There is more data that suggests why the Bavarians are in a league of their own – they are 15 points ahead of 2nd-placed Borussia Dortmund while Borussia Dortmund are 15 points ahead of 15th-place Fortuna Duesseldorf which occupy the last spot that keeps them above both the relegation zone and play-offs. Bayern have won 17 matches so far (80.9 percent) while their closest rivals Dortmund have won just 11 (52.3 percent). They are also the closest to Bayern in terms of goals scored as they have netted on 47 occasions so far but their defensive record is not quite as impressive – they have conceded 26 goals (1.23 per game). Mario Mandžukić is Bayerns top scorer with 14 goals to his name and he is also the joint top scorer in the Bundesliga.
The country of the World and European champions have been used to the fact there will be domination from either Barcelona/Real Madrid or both teams. So far Barcelona have been by far the best side in Spain. They are 12 points clear ahead of the 2nd-placed Atletico Madrid with 15 games to play. The Catalan giants have scored 78 goals in 23 matches (3.39 per game). Their distribution has been consistent – they have scored in each one of their games so far. With this sort of attacking record, they could afford themselves to have only the fourth best defensive record in the league. As expected, Lionel Messi has been their biggest asset – the Argentinian has scored 34 goals in just 22 matches in Primera so far with 9 assists to his team-mates. Messi has scored more goals than 15 teams in Primera with only Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Malaga and Real Sociedad scoring more goals than the worlds best footballer.
Unlike the Bundesliga and Premiership, the reigning champions in Spain are not closest to Barcelona on the table – Atletico Madrid are currently 2nd with 4 points more than Real Madrid in 3rd, mostly because of their perfect home record – Atletico have won the maximum amount of points at their home venue (36 out of 36) while Real Madrid have spilled four points at home so far. Furthermore, Atletico might have scored less goals than Real Madrid but they have failed to score in just three matches while Los Merengues have failed to score on four occasions. Atletico have also kept clean sheets on 11 occasions while Real Madrid have managed to do the same on 9 occasions.
What should we learn from this stats?
First of all, when you want to win a top European league, you need to score a lot of goals. It is no wonder that each one of the respective leaders also have the league’s top scorer in their squad.
Second of all, you need consistency to win the title. It was great fun to watch our hammering of West Ham or our attacking poetry against Newcastle but those two matches were worth just six points. 0:0 against Sunderland at home, 0:0 against Stoke and Aston Villa away, 0:2 against Swansea and Manchester Oilers at home were not the best of performances and a lack of gun-powder gave us just three points out of the possible 15 in those five matches.
Thirdly, our path to trophies is going to be a very tough one. FAnchester United, Manchester Oilers and the Chavs all are alive in the FA Cup and that is supposed to be our easiest way to silverware. A scary FC Bayern side are going to be our first and maybe the last opponent in the knockout phase of the Champions League. Even if we manage to pull off an upset and knock the Germans out, we’ll probably have to beat either Barcelona or FAnchester United on our way to silverware.
Fourth, signing players from your rivals or at least the best league players can help your cause especially if you keep your best players. After two consecutive titles for Borussia Dortmund, Bayern signed Dante from Borussia Moenchengladbach and Mandžukić from Wolfsburg while they had already signed Manuel Neuer from Schalke a year ago. After losing the championship to their city rivals, FAnchester United signed the best player and goal-scorer in the league from us to change their luck. Barcelona signed one of the best left full-backs in the world Jordi Alba from Valencia. Of course, if you can sign a quality player from abroad like Bayern did with Javi Martinez or FAnchester United with Kagawa, do it.
If we want to win some silverware next season, we should strengthen our squad with some top player from the Premiership (Fellaini, Samba, Papiss Cisse) just like we did before the fantastic 2001-02 campaign when we signed Sol Campbell on a free transfer and sign whatever kind of psychological help we need in order to be consistent.