Football By Numbers test

"What's in the briefcase, Lenny, decimal points?" – Jimmy Cannon


The point of this newsletter is to act as an on-ramp for people interested in football stats or analytics. The plan is:

  • a link to a piece on the essentials [headed by the πŸ‘‹ emoji]
  • a question and answer [πŸ—£οΈ ❓]
  • a link to a slightly more detailed or advanced article [πŸ‘¨β€β€πŸ«πŸ”—]
  • bullet point lists of other links [πŸ“°]
  • and then a topical take on something in the football or football stats world [🌍]

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πŸ‘‹ Kick off

There was a time when expected goals was shortened to ExpG. Imagine that. Anyway, here's everything you actually need to know about expected goals, all in one post.

Everything you need to know about expected goals
Expected goals is everywhere, and it kind of has been for quite a while. However, that doesn’t mean everyone’s had it explained nicely for them. While Get Goalside does a lot of β€˜hardcore’ analytics writing, it’s also a newsletter for anyone just getting into football stats too. So this is

πŸ—£οΈ ❓ Q&A

There's a question here about analytics. Maybe about goalkeepers.

And there's a short answer. Goalkeepers are interesting because they're so different to everyone else and, more than most other positions, data isn't tailored to them.

You can look at the difference between the amount of goals they'd be expected to concede and how many they actually concede. However, with strikers, the thing with expected goals is that merely getting into good positions is a good sign. For goalkeepers there's no such thing. They can rarely prevent shots with good positioning or movement. And if they could, how would you know they'd prevented one?

Other things you can look at are technique and 'non-save actions', like sweeping or claiming crosses. You can get a sense of their style or preferences, and try and create statistical models about their impact on conceding.


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πŸ‘¨β€β€πŸ«πŸ”— Tactical time-out

I recently listened to a very interesting podcast from Analytics FC on the effect of Brexit on British football. One of the most parts I found most fascinating was the different ways that the English and Scottish FAs are using 'exception panels' for players or coaches who don't quite meet the automatic points threshold.

The Scottish FA appears to be more easygoing, probably because they're in quite a competitive league environment against other competitions in Europe. (The English Premier League has both lots of money and a smaller pool of competition). As luck would have it, there's a recent Get Goalside newsletter on just this type of topic.

How football competitions are their own competition
Subscribe to Get Goalside Postscript *It’s kind of funny that the Premier League is the original example of a group of big football teams banding together to break away from an existing structure in a bid to leverage their size and power for more money, and then it was the

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πŸ“° Subs bench

Some things that have caught my eye in the last week:


🌍 Post-match press

Just a topical take

I won't be watching the World Cup, but I'm going to try and keep an eye on how their self-collected data plays out. Over the past few years they've been building up their own 'football language' and data collection processes, to give to media and teams in the competitions.

There are parts of the football language I like, but I'm mainly just fascinated in this development and what FIFA's involvement will mean for the wider football data landscape. The second two-thirds of this post from January talks about it in a bit more depth. Re-reading it, I'd forgotten I used The Phantom Menace as a narrative device. It's worth taking a look to see where I went with that alone.


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