By Walter Broeckx
As we were talking about my ref review of the year I mentioned in passing that Old Trafford idiom which seeks to explain why they usually get more penalties than other teams: “Because when you have more possession you obviously get more penalties”. People rightfully challenged me on this and asked me if there is any evidence for this.
So I went on a search on the internet to see if I could find something. Finding the penalties given for and against each team was not a big deal. Finding the time of possession was a bit more difficult. But I found some numbers and I just hope they are right. But at first sight they do seem to be possible.
And so I tried to do some calculations based on the Old Trafford principle: the more possession you have the more chance to get penalties.
|Team||Poss||Not poss||Pen for||Pen ag||Statistic for||Compare||Statistic ag||compare|
So this table gives the link between penalties for and against and compare it to possession. The most important columns are the COMPARE ones If you see a score of 0 (zero) in this table this points at the fact that the team got as many penalties for or against as you could expect from their possession. Because for every 10,19% of possession you can expect to get one penalty a season. Thus meaning a team with a possession of around 60% should be getting 6 penalties. A team with around 40% should only get 4 penalties. And the other way round when it comes to getting penalties against you.
So the next step is to see if there could be a link between this and to try to do this I had to look at the data and see if I can see some kind of pattern. And I tried to put this in a table.
|Range -1||3||Ev, New,Sto||5||Chel,MC, AV,Stoke, Wolves|
|Range = 0||5||MU,Bol,AV,Sun,WBA||2||Newc, Birm|
|Range +2||4||Chels,Tot,Liv,WH,||2||MU, Liv|
And so I divided it in ranges. But because you cannot work with half a penalty I had to stick to the numbers before the comma.
And then I had to take as normal the range from -1 over 0 to +1. Because this can just be the result of the fact I had to get to the number before the comma. If you are still with me?
As a result we could say that when it comes to penalties for we can see that 9 teams are totally normal in this. And then we have 8 teams who have a slightly difference but only just one penalty away from being normal. So that makes it 17 teams that are very close to making it look normal that there is a link between possession and penalties.
There are only 3 teams with an abnormal score in this. Birmingham who has had 3 penalties less than could have been expected. And Blackpool and Manchester City who have had 3 and even 4 penalties more than you could have expected when it comes to comparing possession to penalties.
Let us turn to penalties against.
And then again we have the same range as normal and this time we have 14 teams in the normal range. 3 teams who have a slight out of order range. So again we make it at 17 teams in the range or close to the normal range.
We have two teams who hardly make fouls or who hardly get penalties against them like Fulham and Everton. And that brings us at a total of 19 teams.
And then we have the major exception to all the rules this season….Arsenal. We have had 5 penalties given against us more than you would have expected if you compare the possession and the penalty decisions. You can see in the table there is a huge gap between us and the rest of the league.
So could I prove that there is a link between possession and penalties? Not 100% but for most teams the numbers are more or less closely linked at first sight. Some 17 teams both in terms of penalties for and against who are only 1 penalty away from what could be expected. That is 85% of the teams.
But I certainly could show that Arsenal had a lot of penalties given against us and totally out of line with the rest of the league. In fact Arsenal had the honour of almost having 10% of all the penalties given in the EPL against teams was given against Arsenal. The exact number was 8,9% of the penalties. That sure is a lot.
So if the Old Trafford rule is correct we surely are the exception to the rule.
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