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Fan Engagement, Team Performance

Insights Into New Event Data For 2020/21


Since the start of the season, Stats Perform has been collecting a number of new events and qualifiers from matches. In this piece we provide examples of the data now being captured, which is driving new storylines and providing greater context to performance analysis. 


By: Andy Cooper

For over a quarter of a century, the year-on-year evolution of Stats Perform’s football event data collection has enabled broadcasters, publishers and professional teams to benefit from new insights into performance.

Each year, changes to collection take place following a consultation period with clients, who get the opportunity to feedback on the existing data they consume. This feedback, coupled with other developments such as new rule changes and key innovations pioneered by our AI team, are the main drivers behind additions made to our data collection each summer.

Ahead of 2020/21, we introduced a number of new events and qualifiers to enhance storytelling, audience engagement and in-depth analysis to inform player recruitment and a team’s match preparation. In this piece, we are going to provide a summary of some of these new data points, together with some examples of how they can be applied.

Providing More Context To Ball Carries and First Time Passing

One of the features in Stats Perform’s season reviews this summer highlighted standout players who generated a high volume of goal scoring opportunities following ball carries.

A carry is defined as when a player moves the ball five metres or more and since the start of the season, Stats Perform has introduced a new event, Control, which captures every ball touch of a player in possession. This means that we can now capture accurate dribbling trajectories of ball carrying players and compare the dribbling tendencies of different players in a club’s squad, or across a wider competition.

Another benefit of capturing every ball touch is that analysts can now undertake analysis of one touch passing. This will help identify players who complete a higher volume of first-time passes compared to competition averages, as well as singling out players who need to take a touch before looking to distribute the ball, which is valuable both in a recruitment context and in identifying opposition weaknesses, backing up observations made by scouts.

Quantifying Tactical Fouls and Other Defensive Events

In recent years, the concept of tactical fouls has received plenty of media attention, with players committing fouls after losing possession to stop the opposition from breaking away.

To reflect changes made by IFAB to definitions of card offences, two new qualifiers for fouls have been introduced for 2020/21.

Reckless Offence is a new qualifier when a player is shown a card for committing a foul in a reckless manner, whilst Tactical Foul is when a player is shown a card for committing a foul which interferes with or stops a promising attack (except where the referee awards a penalty kick for an offence which was an attempt to play the ball.)

The introduction of these qualifiers will help identify specific teams and managers whose teams regularly commit tactical fouls following a turnover.

Most Tactical Fouls Committed in the Premier League: 12th Sep-4th Oct 2020

TeamTotal Tactical Fouls
Brighton and Hove Albion4
Leicester City3
Newcastle United3
Aston Villa3

In addition to the foul qualifiers, two new defensive events for outfield players are also being collected: Attempted Tackles and 50/50s. Attempted tackles captures instances where a defensive player has attempted to tackle an opponent but has been unsuccessful, whilst 50/50s comprise two players engaging in a 50/50 challenge to win possession of the ball.

Both of these defensive events will offer scope for new insights into the styles of defensive players – particularly proactive players who commit to winning the ball back for their team – and the relative success of their approach.

Powering New Set Piece and Crossing Trends

With crosses and set pieces accounting for a significant proportion of goals during a season, Stats Perform has increased the number of qualifiers recorded from such scenarios.

At each corner, a qualifier now highlights if the defensive team puts a player on either post (or both), or has left them unattended. This will help team analysts establish different defensive setups being adopted by each opponent– and help broadcasters identify trends of goals being conceded when posts are unprotected.

In addition, several new descriptor qualifiers for crosses, delivered both during open play and at set pieces, are also being recorded.  Driven crosses, which are struck hard, straight and without swing, are allocated a Driven qualifier, whilst crosses that remain in the air for a long period of time or are stood up to the back post are being qualified as Floated.

Crosses are also being tagged as Outswingers or Inswingers, with the delivery foot also being recorded, helping analysts determine which cross types are the most threatening from various players and teams, which can inform player match-ups before a game. These supplement another crossing qualifier which was introduced last season, which records every Overhit Cross.

New Parameters For Assessing Goalkeepers

Alongside outfield player data, new events and qualifiers have also been introduced to help assess individual goalkeeper performance during the season.

With goalkeepers regularly using their feet from the ground to distribute the ball, a new event records each instance where the keeper drops the ball close to themselves with the intention to play it from their feet. This provides another layer of context to how a keeper initiates a possession, through playing short passes from the ground into defenders or defensive midfielders, or long into the opposition half.

In addition to their distribution, further qualifiers also provide insights in a keeper’s overall handing and shot stopping ability. If a keeper attempts to catch the ball when making a save, but drops the ball in error, the event will be given a goalkeeper fumble qualifier.

In addition, we are also now recording the X and Y coordinates of the goalkeeper’s position after conceding a goal, to establish how close they got to the shot, and we will also be allocating a qualifier for key interventions, highlighting when a keeper’s touch of the ball occurs below hip height, above shoulder height, or in between the two.

Continuing to Drive Analysis & Key Talking Points

As well as collaborating with Football DataCo to successfully launch the Premier League Insights feed in England, Stats Perform’s new events and qualifiers provide further opportunities for clients to interrogate data quickly, unearthing facts relevant to key talking points in a game, as well as identifying richer performance trends when assessing players and their influence on the pitch.

Many of these events, including the new foul qualifiers, are being collected live, whilst others will be delivered in post-match feeds. For a full breakdown, please contact us.

This ongoing investment in enhancing data collection, coupled with the development of new AI-derived metrics, is helping Stats Perform clients, ranging from global broadcasters through to leading professional teams, attain a competitive edge through richer insights.

Interested in knowing more about Stats Perform’s football feeds for 2020/21? Get in touch to find out more.