Friday, August 28, 2009

Welcome to the Analytical Football Blog!

What is this blog?
The goal of this blog is to present analysis of association football. Ideally it will be mostly objective, analyzing statistics that come from the matches themselves. At times I will give opinions, but will try to clarify that I’m just giving my opinion when that happens.

Why this blog?

Compared to traditional American sports like baseball, basketball and American football, little work has been done to analyze soccer statistics and results. I feel that I can make a contribution in this area.

What should the reader expect?

The first series of articles uses what is called the Poisson model to analyze past results and use them to predict future ones. I will use this to look into how likely each team is to make the World Cup finals. The first two articles, which you can find above, go through CONCACAF (North and Central America and the Caribbean) qualifying. Using the Poisson model as well as taking a look at transfers I will give a preview of the coming season in the Primera Division of Spain. I also hope to do the same for the Premier League, Serie A and Bundesliga before too much of the season has gone. Either way, once the season gets rolling and there are enough results to use, I will apply the model to make predictions about the season and give a weekly preview for each of the major leagues and any smaller league by reader request.

In addition to that, I will be writing articles on topics such as the usefulness of current team stats, (corners, time of possession, fouls etc.) how one can separate a player’s contribution to a team effort, which leagues are the best, whether offense or defense is more important, if some teams are better suited for certain league or cup competitions, and whether the timing of a goal matters. I am working on new individual and team sports and will be posting about those as things develop.

Who are you?

I am currently a graduate student of Economics at the University of Pittsburgh. I am hoping and planning to finish my research and get my Ph.D. next summer. I grew up and currently live in Oregon, on the West Coast of the United States. Since I was a child, soccer has been my favorite sport. I played through high school (grades 9-12) at which point being slow and unskilled became more problematic. While I haven’t done it for 6 years, I also have a lot of experience as a referee. This was primarily for youth soccer, but I also did high school games and local adult leagues when I was an undergrad at the University of Oregon.

Which teams do you support?

As an undergrad, I did a study abroad in Seville, Spain. I was there from January through May of 2000, and saw both Sevilla and Betis get relegated that season. They didn’t win a single game I went to, but I became a fan Sevilla Fútbol Club, something I will be hasta la muerte. Other than that, I am not very biased in favor of any club. I will admit that there are a few big clubs (plus a certain side in the Segunda from Heliopolis) that I dislike, particularly Real Madrid, Manchester United and to some extent Chelsea. Despite my opinion, I know that these are very popular clubs and to the extent that I have readers many will support one of them. I will certainly write about them and will try to be as objective as possible. Few things bother me more than very biased sports announcing and reporting and I hope to not be hypocrite when it comes to that. Fortunately, much of what I will do will rely on objective statistics.

When it comes to national teams, I am one of apparently few avid fans of the sport from the US that is not crazy about the national team. I certainly don’t dislike the US national team, and prefer for them to win. It’s just that I’m not very patriotic and don’t care all that much. I don’t wish to get into them here, but there are definitely things that have cooled my emotions for the USMNT that have a lot to do with ESPN and ABC. I’m sure I will discuss that more later when World Cup qualifying picks up. Despite not being Spanish nor of Spanish ancestry, I have similar positive but tepid feelings about the Spanish national team as a result of having lived there. I suppose I should also say that I support sides such as Mali and Brazil that have Sevillistas playing for them. Going the other way, there are no national sides that I dislike. I can confidently say that when it comes to international football my opinions don’t cloud my judgment.

You talk funny!

Like many Americans, a large portion of what I have read about the game has been from sources in Great Britain or elsewhere in Europe that use British English. I am also a big sports fan in general, so I read and discuss American sports a lot. You can expect me to use a possibly annoying mix of phrases from either side of the Atlantic. I usually refer to the sport as football, though at times calling it soccer for which no apology should be warranted. To avoid confusion, if I am talking about the sport in which the Pittsburgh Steelers are Super Bowl Champions, then I will call it American football, adjective and all. I freely use British terms such as match and pitch as well as their American counterparts like game and field. In my experience this is pretty common for American fans of the beautiful game, but if you are an American that is new to the sport or from elsewhere and you haven’t interacted much with Americans then you may find it odd.

In terms of formatting, I will list things the usual way they are done internationally - the home team will always be listed first. When giving records I will use the win-draw-loss format. Both are pretty standard but again some American readers might be a little thrown off at first so I thought it worth mentioning.

Something that would certainly bother my high school English teachers if they happened across this blog is that when talking about football I tend to take the Commonwealth approach and treat collective nouns as plural instead of singular. Expect me to say “Stoke City are still in the Premier League” instead of “Stoke City is still in the Premier League”. I have no idea why I do this or when it started, but I do it naturally only using the American singular form occasionally. I humbly apologize to anyone bothered by this either way and I hope you can overlook it.

No comments:

Post a Comment