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How the times clubs play affects their chances of winning

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By Walter Broeckx

 

When looking on the internet I stumbled upon an interesting research from the Dutch exercise physiologist (never heard of that job before but it does seems to exist) Raymond Verheijen. This person has been working under different coaches like Guus Hiddink, Dick Advocaat when they were the manager of the national team of South Korea.

He worked as an assistant for the Dutch national team, Russia, South Korea and Wales. He was the assistant of Gary Speed. He attended 3 world cups and 3 European championships. He also has worked for a few clubs such as Barcelona, Zenit St. Petersburg, Chelsea and Manchester City.

So one could say he has been around the world and has worked for some big countries and clubs. But I didn’t start writing this to talk about his personal life or ambition but because of a study he has made about rest between football games.

We all seem to know that playing too many games in a short period is not good for a team. It is bad for getting more injuries and can be a reason to drop points. It is something that we accept. I could say something like: it evens out at the end of the season (to coin a phrase).

In his study Verheijen examined 27.000 games from different leagues. The Dutch, English, German, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese leagues combined with the Champions League and the Europa League.

The results of this study has shown that the chance of a teaming winning a game when they had only 2 resting days between a game goes down dramatically. According to his numbers the chance of winning a game goes down by an amazing 40% if a team can only rest 2 days and has to play another team that had more resting days. And if the team has to play away from home the chance of losing goes up another 26%.

Teams that had only two resting days have a chance of  75% of conceding goals in the last half our of that second game. And the chance of them scoring in the last half hour goes down with by 70%.

Raymond Verheijen insists that Fifa and Uefa install a rule that would guarantee a minimum of 3 days rest for each team in each competition. In fact if I remember it right the FA and the PL and the PGMOL have that rule for FIFA refs. Fifa refs who do a game on Wednesday get only a game on Sunday. So what is applied to the refs should also be applied for the footballers.

Arsenal had to deal with such a situation four times in the last 2 seasons. Once in October when we won the first and second game (Stoke and Bolton both at home). The other time was on 31/01 and 02/01 when we first played QPR at home and won. The second game was at Fulham and we lost to them. With two goals against us in the final minutes. Away from home.

Last season we had a similar schedule. We had to play Monday – Wednesday. On Monday we won against Chelsea but on Wednesday we lost 2 points at Wigan. And is it a coincidence that both those second games where we dropped points were under ref Probert?

So Arsenal had to deal with this situation a few times in the last two seasons. When Wenger complained about it they called him a moaner. But apparently this study agrees with what Wenger said that it was unacceptable to put up such a scheme.

I also have taken a look at United and in their last two season they only had to deal with such a situation once. And guess what? They won at home on December 26 against Sunderland and then went on December 28 to Birmingham and they only could draw. And guess what? Birmingham equalised in the last seconds of the game. I seem to remember Ferguson being unhappy with it.

And what happened after that? Wenger complained and the next season whoever makes up the calendar just did the same thing and Arsenal had to once again play two times games with only 1 or 2 days in between. Ferguson complained and well … United didn’t have to play again in the league with only 2 days in between.

Oh well, that just will be another coincidence I guess.

So taking care that each team can play on the same level without getting more handicaps than other teams is vital. If you want the league to be played in a fair and open way.

So let us hope that Fifa and Uefa put up this rule of having at least 3 days between games. Such a rule would make sure that teams are treated equally. Surely Fifa and Uefa should be interested in such a thing.

Aren’t they?

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The Robin Double: What it means for the player, Mr Wenger and the club.

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Coming tomorrow: The Worst Player of the Year who has Played against Arsenal. 

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Today, 26 April, is the 102nd anniversary of the re-birth of Arsenal

 

 

 

24 comments to How the times clubs play affects their chances of winning

  • Jacobite Gunner

    Walter,

    I have had a look and was wondering if are there were any articles on untold that cover the early xenophobia that existed at the beginning of Arsene’s reign?

  • Jacobite Gunner

    and how it has developed over time etc

  • Arun

    @ Walter, can you post the link to the complete report ???

  • Wooby

    Good stuff Walter. Another point that Wenger has made in the past is for the schedulers to be sensible and avoid having teams play both mid-week CL and domestic games away from home (within days of each other). Well, this season, we played away at Udinese (won) and then lost at OT a few days later. Then we were away at Dortmund (tie) and lost a few days later at Blackburn (officials’ “input” aside). After losing at Milan, we then lost at Sunderland (FA cup tie – and no, I do not believe in complete neutrality with respect to the draw but that’s another story for another day).

    Last season, similar. Away at Belgrade (win), away at Chelski (loss). Reversed results in the next sequence, away at Braga (loss) but then won away at Villa. We also lost at Farca, then a few days later, lost the FA Cup tie at OT.

    Compare that to ManUre … after going away to Benfica, they get Chelski at OT. Away to Otelul is followed by City at OT (so they lost but the point is the schedule setup). Away to Basel is followed by Wolves at, you guessed it, OT.

    Both Chelski and City had to deal with at least one set of away-away games this season; only ManUre escaped this type of schedule hell. Perhaps just another coincidence?

  • Stuart

    I think a rule should be adopted where a minimum2 days rest follows a home game and a minimum 3 days follows an away game. The players need rest and recouperation as well as training and this over exertion can only be bad for their health.

  • Mandy dodd

    I really wish they would make such a rule. Interesting you mention the Dutch fitness coach, have read quite about him, and from what I have read, I wish we had him on our staff, maybe a few less injuries!

  • goonerjon

    Er…how does this explain Chelsea’s unpleasant surge to the Champions league final…that was their fourth game in nine days. Lies, damned lies and statistics…and on this basis we should walk over Stoke on Saturday…I thought so, not quite so convinced now are you?

  • swales9

    This long commentary was removed once it was discovered that the entire piece had been lifted from Online Gooner. The writer made no acknowledgement of the fact, and deliberately presented the piece as his own original work, despite the clear rules written on this site, and the fact that this piece had precious little to do with the article.

    Quite what sort of personality is involved in copying an entire piece of work from one site and presenting on another as his own is interesting – but not really the point immediately here (although as one who has studied psychology, I do find it fascinating, and can suggest a course of therapy for the person involved).

    Untold offer sincere apologies to Gare Kekeke and to Online Gooner for the fact that the article did appear on Untold for a short period.

    Anyone wanting to read the original can find it on http://www.onlinegooner.com/article.php?section=exclusive&id=2678

    Tony Attwood
    Editor, Untold Arsenal

  • WalterBroeckx

    Goonerjon, the study shows that the chance of not winning increases. It is not completely impossible. But statistically the chance of not winning increases.

  • goonergerry

    This is a very good piece-and I am not at all surprised by the findings. The energy sapping way Arsenal play, the relative youth of key players and the the over-physical nature of the EPL makes this especially relevant to us. In short there are too many games too close together-the christmas and easter itineraries are ridiculous. It is also important when considering squad rotation-a top club has to have virtually 2 full teams to compete in 4 competitions.
    Another reason to reduce the number of friendly internationals?

  • Mick

    swales9
    Very nicely written but what is your point. How does your elaborate discourse on why you think that Wenger cannot be regarded as a great manager relate to Walters article?

  • nicky

    Walter,
    Too many games in too short a period lessens the chance of success.
    Surely this is the most obvious statement of the year.
    There will, of course, always be the odd exception to the rule but bearing in mind the high profile of the modern professional game, like racehorses the over use of players’ talents will invariably reap a rude decline.

  • Mandy dodd

    Swales, great bit of copy and paste from online Gooner, http://www.onlinegooner.com/article.php?section=exclusive&id=2678. See fourth paragraph.
    Why don’t you write what You think about the topic for discussion?

  • And_Arsene_Said...

    Swales, here’s another copy and paste for you. Picked this from another site & made a slight addition, some may have seen it before. Sorry for going off topic, but it’s kinda relevent to Swales post. Read….
    The interior of one of Arsenals local pubs… A darkened room with a very conspiratorial atmosphere. REG and STAN are seated at a table at one end of the room. FRANCIS, dressed in Activist gear — black robes and a red sash around his head — is standing by the bar. He is addressing an audience of about eight MASKED Activists. Their faces are partially hidden.
    Reg: What has Wenger ever done for us?
    Xerxes: Changed our perception from ‘boring Arsenal’ to one of Europes most entertaining teams.
    Reg: Oh yeah, yeah he did that. Yeah. That’s true.
    Masked Activist: And the new stadium and training ground!
    Stan: Oh yes… the stadium and training ground, Reg, you remember what the Highbury used to be like limiting our attendence to 38K.
    Reg: All right, I’ll grant you that the way we play and the stadium and training ground are three things that Wenger has done…
    Matthias: And the world class players…
    Reg: Well yes obviously the world class players… the players go without saying. But apart from the way we play, the stadium and training ground and the world class players…
    Another Masked Activist: Premiership trophies…
    Other Masked Voices: FA Cups… Community sheilds… Champions League final…
    Reg: Yes… all right, fair enough…
    Activist Near Front: stability and consistency…we always qualify for the champions league
    Omnes: Oh yes! True!
    Francis: Yeah. That’s something we’d really miss if Wenger left, Reg.
    Masked Activist at Back: A decent youth policy!
    Stan: And it’s great to feel we are where we are off our own backs.
    Francis: Yes, he certainly knows how to buy a bargain… (general nodding)… let’s face it, he’s the only one who could in a transfer market like this.
    (more general murmurs of agreement)
    Reg: All right… all right… but apart from better stadium and training ground and players and trophies and youth policy and cup finals and shrewd buys … what has Wenger done for us?
    Xerxes: Secured our future?!
    Reg: What!? Oh… secured our future!? yes… shut up!

  • john L

    @ swales,

    really?

  • Gord

    I will follow Arun’s request. Could you please post a link to the article, or describe how a person can find it? If it is a technical article as a PDF, giving the full title of the article will usually allow a person to find it, if it is findable.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Arun and Gord,

    Will look if there is a link to it in English

  • Swales: since this site runs alongside the Arsenal History Society site (and since I am currently honoured to be the chair of the AHS) I think you owe us the courtesy of a little truth within your piece.

    But you have broken one of the prime rules of this site in that your article is copied from Online Gooner – as others have pointed out. Therefore it has to be deleted.

    I offer my apologies to Online Gooner – we took the piece off as soon as we could.

  • Walter

    Goonerjon,that’s easy, they didn’t play, just stood there and waited.

  • The key point from the article for me is that we really do need an ever bigger squad for several reasons:

    1. To cope with injuries
    2. To cope with loss of form
    3. To act as a midway point for players on the way up who need some match experience
    4. To cope with this fixture congestion

    It is a very tough balancing act but seems to have worked wonderfully with Coquelin – a year with Lorient, and 15 or so outings this season, he is a significant addition to our resources, and ready to get games as a relief to tired or injured midfielders and full backs.

    We are of course restricted now by the 25 rule, but we have never exploited the numbers fully – with only around 22 players nominated. I suspect we are edging up to the 25, and still keeping our full list of under 21s who can be included without limit.

  • Ben

    If the teams would be getting 3 days in between games would that in affect make the season finish later?

  • Wooby

    @goonerjon, one thing to note about Chelski’s schedule is the lack of long travel. 4 games in 9 days but the first 3 in London and only the last game involve plane ride. I think it the sequence was different, for example, they have to travel to Farca for the first leg in between the FA semi and our game, you might have seen very different results.

    Check out Farca’s schedule. They played away on April 14, then visited the Bridge on the 18th, then played RealMad on the 21st followed by Chelski on the 24th (note, the last games were home games). 4 games in 10 days but with travel right smack in the middle – I suspect the schedule/travel is a contributing factor to their lack of success in the last two games.

    @Tony, I agree full-heartedly with the need for a large squad to cope but at the same time, especially in England where there are two cup competitions and no winter break.

  • dr kox

    Yes but lets see if rvpp signs

  • RedGooner

    Interesting Article from a betting prospective if you combine it with Dog Faces work 🙂
    Maybe next year we should all become gamblers to make up for our dissatisfaction with PGMOL and FA in general ….Heck we might even thank them for it IF it pays towards the good old season tickets 🙂