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The Europa League: are the clubs performing as we might expect so far?

by Andrew Crawshaw

Following my look at the Squad values of all of the clubs in the Europa League, the question arises: do the results of the first two games show any deviations from where one might expect them to be based on squad values (expressed in millions of pounds).

To clarify, where the league table in each group is as would be expected from the squad value, the position top to bottom should be the same as the squad value with the most expensive squad at the top, and the least expensive at the foot of each table.  Thus Arsenal have the most expensive squad and so are expected to be top.  They are, so there is no variation.

FC Köln on the other hand are expected on a value basis to be second, but are fourth, and thus -2.

Arsenal are in Group H and here is the group table with the added column of the squad values

Team Value P W D L Pts Variance
Arsenal 462 2 2 0 0 6 0
Red Star Belgrade 18 2 1 1 0 4 +1
Bate 15 2 0 1 1 1 +1
FC Köln 96 2 0 0 2 0 -2

Köln underperforming against Red Star Belgrade, the other games pretty much as expected  A draw between Belgrade and Bate and an expected win by Arsenal against Kiln and Bate.

Looking at the other groups

Group A

Team Value P W D L Pts Variance
Villareal 177 2 1 1 0 4 0
Slavia Prague 29 2 1 1 0 4 0
Maccabi Tel Aviv 22 2 0 1 1 1 0
FC Astana 16 2 0 1 1 1 0

Villareal underperforming in their away game against Maccabi Tel Aviv, an expected away draw for Prague at Astana otherwise pretty much what you would expect

Group B

Team Value P W D L Pts Variance
FC Dynamo Kyev 55 2 2 0 0 6 0
BSC Young Boys 23 2 0 2 0 2 0
FK Partizan 19 0 0 1 1 1 0
KF Skënderbeu 6 2 0 1 1 1 0

A good home draw for Skenderbeu against Young Boys, otherwise as you would expect.

Group C

Team Value P W D L Pts Variance
Braga 45 2 2 0 0 6 +2
Ludogrets 41 2 1 1 0 4 +2
Basaksehir 63 2 0 1 1 1 -1
TSG Hoffenheim 108 2 0 0 2 0 -3

This group is upside down compared with squad values.  Hoffenheim are well below par, you would expect them to comfortably top this group yet they are 0 for 2.  The other three teams shold be quite close as there is little significant difference between their values.

Group D

Team Value P W D L Pts Variance
AC Milan 289 2 2 0 0 6 0
AEK Athens 29 2 1 1 0 4 0
FK Austria Vienna 18 2 0 1 1 1 +1
HNK Rijeka 21 2 0 0 0 0 -1

AC Milan have the second highest squad value in th ecompetition and so its so surprise to see them on top with maximum points.  Mind you they needed a 95th minute goal to secure the win against Rijeka.  Nothing much to chose between the other three teams

Group E

Team Value P W D L Pts Variance
Atalanta 111 2 1 1 0 4 +1
Olympique Lyonnais 108 2 0 2 0 2 +1
Apollon Limassol 13 2 0 2 0 2 +1
Everton 289 2 0 1 1 1 -3

This always looked a tough group, Everton should win it with Atalanta and Olympique fighting over the unner up slot but so far Everton are playing as badly in this competition as the PL and only managing a home draw against the group minnows.

Group F

Team Value P W D L Pts Variance
Lokomotiv Moscow 54 2 1 1 0 4 0
FC Copenhagen 29 2 0 2 0 2 0
FC Sheriff Tirapsol 9 2 0 2 0 2 0
FC Zlin 9 2 0 1 1 1 0

A good draw at home by Tirapsol, otherwise pretty much as expected

Group G

Team Value P W D L Pts Variance
FSC Bucharest 24 2 2 0 0 6 0
FC Viktoria Plzen 21 2 1 0 1 3 0
Hapoel Beer Sheva 18 2 1 0 1 3 0
FC Lugano 13 2 0 0 2 0 0

Not a lot of squad value variance in this group, So far Bucharest and Hapoel Beer Sheva have both managed an away win, Bucharest and Plzen have both won their home games.  No draws so far.  This group could yet go any way.

Group I

Team Value P W D L Pts Variance
FC Red Bull Salzburg 37 2 1 1 0 4 +1
Olympique de Marseille 139 2 1 0 1 3 -1
Konyaspor 30 2 1 0 1 3 0
Vit Guimarães 28 2 0 1 1 1 0

A good home win by Salzburg over Marseille , otherwise pretty much as you would expect.

Group J

Team Value P W D L Pts Variance
Östersund 7 2 2 0 0 6 +3
Zorya Luhansk 15 2 1 0 1 3 +2
Athletic Bilbao 154 2 0 1 1 1 -2
Hertha Berlin 81 2 0 1 1 1 -2

Another upside down group group Minnows with two wins out of 2 including an excellent 1 – 0 against Hertha this week.  Group favourites Bilbao and Berlin both struggling so far.

Group K

Team Value P W D L Pts Variance
OGC Nice 110 2 2 0 0 6 +1
Lazio 162 2 2 0 0 6 -1
Vitesse 22 2 0 0 2 0 0
Zulte Waregem 21 2 0 0 2 0 0

No surprises here Nice above Lazio by virtue of goal difference

Group L

Team Value P W D L Pts Variance
Zenit St Petersberg 108 2 2 0 0 6 +1
Real Sociadad 138 2 1 0 1 3 -1
Rosenborg BK 15 2 1 0 1 3 +1
Vardar 22 2 0 0 2 0 -1

A really good win for St Petersberg over Real Sociagrad the only surprise so far in this group.  Rosenborg also won at home over Vardar.

Conclusions

  1. In general the groups are pretty much in line with expectations based on squad value, however there are some big exceptions in 3 groups :-
    • In Group E Everton are massively under performing and will have to improve rapidly to stay in the competition.
    • Groups C and J are upside down compared with squad value expectations.  Hoffenheim (group C) and both Athletic Bilbao and Hertha Berlin (group J) being particularly under par.
  2. Surprises so far are in Group J where the two minnows are in the top two positions – Östersund with a squad value of £7.27m are leading the group with two wins out of two and Zorya Luhansk (£14.51m)are second with a win and a draw.  If they keep up these performances then I can see clubs closely looking at their players and coaches.

 

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8 comments to The Europa League: are the clubs performing as we might expect so far?

  • Flares

    Good opportunity for Arsenal, this. Only Milan, Lazio and Lyon pose any genuine threat in a knockout game imho. A win in this competition would be an absolute thumb in the eye for Mourinho, particularly if we qualify for CL inside the top four places. Long way to go yet though.

  • Nitram

    I think this squad value versus expectation is a pretty good barometer for what expectations we, and every other club, should have, and as such we are the favourites at this stage, but there are some caveats to that.

    1) This tournament has been classed as a ‘low’ priority by Wenger and as such he is playing a second string team. Spurs are testament enough to how that impacts on performance given there dismal showings.

    2) 6/1 Favourites at the moment maybe, but it would be very unwise to squander any money at this stage given the quality of opposition that may fall in to the tournament from the CL. These teams traditionally do very well in the EL.

    So given a) this will almost certainly remain our lowest priority deep into the tournament, and b) the quality of opposition that may well fall into it, it could still be a tough ask to win it.

    Similar to United last season, being without a chance of a top 4 finish and a redirection of priorities would be our best chance of winning it.

    All that being said, I think your squad value versus expected performance holds up quite well, as you have demonstrated, and given our squad value, we deserve our place at the head of the betting market, despite it’s current low priority for us.

  • Josif

    @Flares

    Don’t forget that we will get 8 more teams from CL to this competition in the knockout stages (EL have four knockout stages before the final as opposite to CL three KO stages before the final). Right now, those eight places are occupied by:

    -CSKA Moscow, one of rare teams Arsene Wenger has faced with Arsenal and hasn’t beaten (a draw and a defeat),
    -Celtic,
    -Atletico Madrid,
    -Juventus,
    -Spartak Moscow,
    -Shakhtar Donetsk,
    -RasenBallsport Leipzig,
    -Borussia Dortmund.

    Of course, things can easily change – there are still four more matches to be played in the group stage and most of the clubs that are now in the EL places can either pip their rivals for the CL Ro16 place or drop to the very bottom of their respective group.

    However, if these eight teams join EL draw, I wouldn’t put us as the competition favourites as each one of Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Atletico should get that burden instead. Same goes if Borussia Dortmund get replaced by either Real Madrid or Tottenham or if Atletico Madrid get replaced by Chelsea (I don’t see Roma as a threat).

    Given the home form of the teams you have mentioned, I’d say Lazio look dangerous and pretty free-scoring at the moment but I reckon we are much stronger than them. Milan look exactly like Everton right now (with significantly better point-tally though) – a very expensive group of players that their manager hasn’t been able to make work properly…yet – and even if they have Leonardo “Garlic” Bonucci in their ranks, I reckon we should be able to deal with them (if we play our best team, that is).

  • Chris

    Nitram,

    respectufully, let me disagree up to a point
    I believe focus should be on top four in the PL, that is clear
    Hoewever with our squad depth, talking of ‘second sting’ seems like these are just players here to fill in the blanks.
    And as I’ve stated before, this is an excellent opportunity for the youngsters to shine and rise up into the first team.
    Furthermore, there will always be 1st team players having to come back for injury (Wilshere being the latest example) and such games are perfect to get them back to the right level of fitness.

    So will as well the whateverit’sfunnyname now is, which was I believe the League Cup in the past.

    So to ne the EL is s strategic element in this season and in preparaing the next ones as many of these youngsters may end up taking the place of plyers leaving – this at zero cost to the club, thus freeing finances to get a superstar.

    And considering how Pool!, Chelsea, Everton and Sp*rs have been playing since the beginning of the season, I am less pessimistic about finishing in the top 4.

  • Nitram

    Chris

    No problem.

    I was just really making the point that our vastly superior squad value of 462 could be a little misleading.

    But maybe as you suggest, given the depth of quality we do possess, we’ll be fine.

    Re top 4. To be honest I’ve always thought our chances of a top 4 were no worse than normal, in fact even slightly better.

    Man City are obviously very good and look like they’ve spent well. Only time well tell, but they look very good.

    But apart from them, as you say, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs, look nothing exceptional. To be honest, as much as it hurts to say, I think Spurs look the strongest out of the 3, but they do have the Wembley issue to deal with. If they do deal with it, I see them as City’s main challenger out of them .

    I notice you didn’t mention Man Utd but honestly, what have they done? If we’d done what they’ve done we’d of had the usual ‘flat track bullies’ accusation thrown at us.

    The highest positioned team they’ve played is 12TH placed Southampton. So not only haven’t they played a single top 4 side they haven’t played a top 6. In fact every team they’ve played is in the bottom half. They’ve played the:

    12TH, 13TH, 15TH, 16TH, 17TH, 18TH and 20TH placed teams. That’s 7 out of the bottom 9 !

    13 Aug Premier League West Ham United H 4 – 0 15TH
    19 Aug Premier League Swansea City A 4 – 0 18TH
    26 Aug Premier League Leicester City H 2 – 0 17TH
    09 Sep Premier League Stoke City A 2 – 2 13TH
    17 Sep Premier League Everton H 4 – 0 16TH
    23 Sep Premier League Southampton A 1 – 0 12TH
    30 Sep Premier League Crystal Palace H 4 – 0 20TH

    Okay, I concede they’ve dealt with them as they should but honestly. Personally I think they are being vastly over rated on what they’ve done so far.

    I still think United will be out of the top 4.

    Nope, I’m pretty confident we’ll be in the mix again and 2nd is my prediction.

  • Gord

    Carrying Nitram’s start a little further.

    Man$ has 19 points, played 4,7, 8,14,16, 19,20. The median placing is 14, the average placing is 12.57 and the average of the middle 3 is 12.67.

    ManU has 19 points, played 12,13, 15,16,17, 18,20. The median placing is 16, the average placing is 15.86 and the average of the middle 3 is 16.

    The Spuds have 14 points, played 4,6, 9,11,15 16,18. The median placing is 11, the average placing is 11.29 and the average of the middle 3 is 11.67.

    Chel$ea have 13 points, played 1,3 5,6,13, 16,17. The median placing is 6, the average placing is 8.71 and the average of the middle 3 is 8.

    Arsenal have 13 points, played 4,7, 10,13,14, 17,19. The median is 13, the average is 12.00 and the average of the middle 3 is 12.33.

    Liverpool!!! have 12 points, played 1,5, 6,8,9, 17,20. The median is 8, the average is 9.43 and the average of the middle 3 is 7.67.

    For no good reason, I will suggest the average of the middle 3 placings as a good measure of how tough the opposition have been in the first 7 rounds. ManU(16), Man$(12.67), Arsenal(12.33), Spuds(11.67), Chel$ea(8), Liverpool!!!(7.67). ManU has had a noticably easier start, Liverpool and Chel$ea the most difficult.

  • Sammy The Snake

    How is it that ManU always get an easy start to each season? They are always afforded the chance to gain some steam before playing the more difficult games.

  • Nitram

    Gord

    Thanks for that. Makes interesting reading.

    Whether Man Utd have deliberately been given an easy start or not, which despite my cynicism I somehow doubt, they certainly have had one this year, and some.

    If Arsenal had a similar start against similar opposition you can guarantee the media would of been all over those stats in an attempt to discredit us, as per there usual Modus Operandi.

    But, as is there want, in Man Utds case there start is seen as irrefutable proof of the genius of Mourinho and the brilliance of his team.

    Looking at your figures Gord it does indeed show Man Utd, and to a lesser degree Man City, have had pretty easy starts, whilst both Arsenal and Spurs starts have been of average difficulty, leaving Liverpool and Chelsea with the hardest.

    The current league placings bear these conclusions out pretty well:

    1st Man City: 19 points: Easy start

    2nd Man Utd: 19 Points: Easy start

    So the 2 teams with the easiest starts are 1st and 2nd and both on the same points.

    3rd Spurs: 14 Points: Average start

    4th Chelsea: 13 Points: Difficult start

    5th Arsenal: 13 Points: Average start

    7th Liverpool: 12 points: Difficult start

    (with my humble apologies to 6th placed Burnley given there wonderful start)

    Spurs, with an average start, and Liverpool, with a difficult start, are were we may of expected them to be.

    For perfection of the transposition of difficulty versus position Arsenal and Chelsea should have there positions reversed, but as they are only separated on goal difference that is a minor blip.

    So in conclusion Gord, the 6 teams we have looked at are sitting in almost the exact positions we may of expected them to be in given the relative difficulties of there starts to the season.

    This suggests, to me anyway, that the conclusions being drawn by the media at this early stage, that the 2 Manchester Clubs are going to run away with it, could be well wide of the mark, especially in Uniteds case, given the ‘cake walk’ of a start they have been given.

    So despite the media wetting there pants over those 2, and writing us of after one disastrous performance at Anfield, I think all 6 of those we have mentioned will be in the mix for a top 4 finish, and possibly even for the title, right up until the end of the season.

    It’s going to be much much closer than those dullards in the media would have us believe, and I for one am really looking forward to it.

    COYG

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