10 Games In – A Look at the Stats – By Tom Williams
So, we’re 10 matches into life back in the football league, and the cup competitions that go along with it. It’s been an interesting start and has led to plenty of passionate debate about tactics, formations, team selections and even pitch width. It’s also around this time that stats that I’ve been collecting start to become helpful as our sample size has reached 976 minutes of football.
Here are some infographics on our matches so far, I get data from BBC Sport, Sky Sports, and clubs’ twitter pages. I’ve also been allowed to include some work done by Ben Mayhew (@experimental361 on Twitter) who’s well worth a follow for insightful EFL coverage.
Please note that I don’t have access to data that isn’t publicly available, which means I can’t get all the info I’d like and I’m at the mercy of those who collect the data accuracy-wise. However, I endeavour to be as accurate as possible and cross-check my sources (if anything looks fishy let me know!) Also, my data included personal preference, for example, I include stoppage time in my minute count and attribute assists for winning penalties (either through being fouled or drawing a handball).
Here’s a good place to start, the basic stats. Despite our alleged chance creation worries, you can see that we’ve dominated opponents overall on Goals, Possession, Shots, Shots on Target and Corners. Perhaps indicating that our concerns are influenced by the fact we’re no longer able to dominate in the same way as in the National League. Our ‘streetwise’ approach, much derided by our friends in Nailsworth, is also evident with the Imps clocking up considerably more fouls and bookings than our opponents.
So, who’s been on the pitch then? Might sound obvious but the percentages of these tables often surprise me. I wouldn’t have predicted Arnold and Rhead that low down before the season began. Rheady is affected by his well-documented issue with playing over an hour, having appeared in 9 of the 10 matches but with an average minutes per appearance of just 59.78 minutes. Another interesting case is Ollie Palmer who has appeared in every fixture despite his lowly position percentage-wise; a feat only matched by Eardley, Woodyard, and Bostwick. The latter 3 all have average minutes per appearance of over 90 minutes but Ollie holds the squad’s lowest at just 35.4 minutes.
However, it would appear that Palmer’s role as an impact sub has been effective with him boasting a very impressive Minutes Per Goal For (minutes a player has played divided by the goals we have scored when he’s on the field). Whitehouse and Ginnelly’s results are also certainly impressive, albeit with a far smaller sample size of gametime meaning it would be unwise to read too much into their runaway positions at the top. For this reason, I’ve included the table on the left with shows the total Minutes Per Goal For to be referenced alongside the minutes ratio version.
Similarly, it would be unwise to read too much into Josh Vickers’ spot at the bottom end of Goals Against equivalent table (where a higher score is obviously better) due to his lack of gametime. Palmer again features at the right end, although this is surely influenced by us often pushing for a goal when he is introduced. However, the fact that he’s appeared off the bench 9 times and his score is so high is perhaps an indication that Lincoln tend to dominate towards the end of matches.
In case you didn’t believe me, here are our Goal Times thus far. As you can see, there is an obvious trend to the end of matches, indicating our strength in that phase. Although the peculiar lack of early goals may mean a more even spread could be desirable.
Having said that, our opponents don’t tend to score too much early on either, with just two goals in the first half hour. As with the Imps, there’s a spike in the run-up to half-time with the teams scoring 7 between them in this 15-minute spell (plus stoppage time). Perhaps you’d be better off getting your food just before the half-hour mark if you don’t mind it a little cold.
Speaking of goals, the Imps have a better conversion record than their opponents, getting a higher proportion both on target, and more importantly, in the net. For reference, average shots to goals in the Premier League is currently 12.7% and average shots on target percentage is 30%. This seems to support the idea that our worries of a lack of chances might be influenced by our domination of games last season.
After my pretty obscure Minutes Per Goal For waffling this might be a little more familiar. As mentioned above, I’ve included penalties won as assists as well as giving Knott the assist against Forest Green despite a slight touch off the defender as it did little to influence the path of the ball. Assists are an oddly subjective stat so feel free to dock Knotty as you feel fit. The Minutes Per Goal Contributed stat show that both Knott and Green have had very good starts in front of goal both comfortably averaging a goal or assist every 2 games.
These two graphics are ones that will probably become more relevant as the season progresses as relatively low amount of goals means their use is limited. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that, by my judgement, we’re yet to score in the top of the goal, players instructed to shoot low and hard perhaps? Furthermore, the fact that we are yet to notch an assist from the left flank might suggest that despite the impressive work from Long of Eardley thus far, we are missing the deliveries of Habergham whose chance creation was so crucial last season.
Defensively, however, the stats suggest we have still been strong without Habergham in the team, although this is another stat that should be taken with a grain of salt this early in the campaign.
As mentioned earlier, the bookings are starting to pile up somewhat and with the injury worries with Waterfall and Habergham, losing Raggett and Eardley to suspension could have been a real issue. Thankfully it appears that Luke and Sam will have reached normal fitness levels before any suspensions occur.
Finally, the latest scattergraphs from Ben Mayhew (@experimental361) may also make for comforting reading. What is really reinforced here is our defensive effectiveness, which is a promising foundation to build on. These detailed stats suggest that over the long term, we’re likely to get the results we need to be ‘in-and-around-it’ come the end of the season. Ben describes us as “resilient at the back but offering less up front”, something I’m confident continued tinkering, and hopefully some added firepower in January, will address.