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The Leicester City story- part 1

Rishit Grover
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
Published Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019 IST

Leicester City players with the Premier League Trophy
Leicester City players with the Premier League Trophy

Could Leicester do the impossible, again?

Playing to their strengths

Understat classifies all goals scored by a team into four categories based on what they call ‘Attack Speed’ – Normal, Standard, Slow and Fast. This season, Leicester City have scored 10 ‘Fast’ goals, out of their 39 goals. That’s a percentage of 25.6%. That’s the highest % of Fast goals scored divided by total goals scored by any team in the last 6 seasons in the top 5 leagues. That’s 588 data points. (98 teams each season across the 5 Leagues * 6 seasons). Leicester City's ratio (of Fast/Total) this season is the highest in those 588 data points. Brendan Rodgers has clearly got a plan, and it seems to be working down to a T

To give you an example of how this works, dominant (in terms of possession) teams usually don’t score goals that are categorized as ‘Fast’. Leicester have 10/39 (25.64%) but PSG have 0/35 (Fast/total), Barcelona and Real Madrid have 2/41 (4.88%) and 1/32 (3.125%) respectively. In the English Premier League, Manchester City have scored 2/44 (4.545%).

Number. of fast goals vs total number of Goals
Number. of fast goals vs total number of goals

In their title-winning season, 19.11% of their goals 13/68 were Fast. That was the highest by any team in that season in the EPL. It was also the 4th highest in the Top 5 leagues that season

Immaculate home form

The King Power Stadium has become a fortress this season. Last season, Leicester City lost as many games as they won at home but this season, their home form has been impeccable. They have been unbeaten at home this season (the only other team is, of course, Liverpool), and are well on track to match their record of losing just once at home in their title-winning season.

Leicester City v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg
Leicester City v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg

Moreover, it’s not like they haven’t played the historically difficult games yet. Leicester have beaten Arsenal, Tottenham, and Everton at home. They’ve conceded just 4 goals in 8 games at home, the next best is 7. They’ve also conceded a league-low of 10 goals in total.

Press and possess

PPDA stands for Passes allowed Per Defensive Action in the opposition half. PPDA was a defensive metric that was introduced to measure the intensity of the press. The lower the value of this metric, the lower is the number of passes allowed to the opposition in their half. That is, the lower this value, the more a team marauds the opposition's players in their half.

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For example, Guardiola’s teams have been known to play on the front foot, pressing opponents in their half to force turnovers while the defence is out of position. Therefore, it would only make sense if his teams’ recorded a low PPDA value.

Guardiola’s second season at Bayern 

PPDA from all 98 Teams 2014/15 Season in Top 5 Leagues sorted according to Ascending Order
PPDA from all 98 Teams 2014/15 Season in Top 5 Leagues sorted according to Ascending Order

Guardiola’s Third Season at Bayern

PPDA from all 98 Teams 2015/16 Season in Top 5 Leagues sorted according to ascending order
PPDA from all 98 Teams 2015/16 Season in Top 5 Leagues sorted according to ascending order

Guardiola’s second season at Manchester City

PPDA from all 98 Teams 2017/18 Season in Top 5 Leagues sorted according to Ascending Order
PPDA from all 98 Teams 2017/18 Season in Top 5 Leagues sorted according to Ascending Order

Guardiola’s Third Season at Manchester City

PPDA from all 98 Teams 2018/19 Season in Top 5 Leagues sorted according to ascending order
PPDA from all 98 Teams 2018/19 Season in Top 5 Leagues sorted according to ascending order

(Data from Guardiola’s first seasons at Bayern and Manchester City were unavailable)

Brendan Rodgers has done a commendable job, imposing his style of play on the team very well, while keeping in mind the shortcomings of the team. Their PPDA value for this season is the 7th lowest in the top 5 leagues.

PPDA from all 98 Teams 2019/20 Season in Top 5 Leagues sorted according to ascending order
PPDA from all 98 Teams 2019/20 Season in Top 5 Leagues sorted according to ascending order

Remarkably, it is the lowest in the English Premier League this season.

PPDA from all PL Teams 2019/20 Season sorted according to Ascending Order
PPDA from all PL Teams 2019/20 Season sorted according to Ascending Order

OPPDA stands for the number of passes a team completes in their half before being disrupted by a defensive action. Therefore, the higher this metric is, the more press resistant the team is. Leicester has the 4th Highest OPPDA value in the PL. Manchester City havethe highest value in the Top 5 Leagues(!) this season.


OPPDA from all the PL Teams 2019/20 Season sorted according to Descending Order
OPPDA from all the PL Teams 2019/20 Season sorted according to Descending Order

One for all, all for one

Vardy has now scored 16 goals, only Immobile has more. Vardy has now scored in 8 consecutive league games. He has now achieved this feat twice, the first time on his way to set a Premier League record of scoring in 11 consecutive games in the 2015/16 season.

West Bromwich Albion v Leicester City - Premier League
West Bromwich Albion v Leicester City - Premier League

Ricardo Periera has the most tackles in the league. Ndidi is 2nd on the same table. Overall, Leicester have the most tackles - 330 in their 16 games this season. They can also count on the invaluable experience that 9 of their players can provide them with, all of whom have won the league at least once. Liverpool, the only team ahead of Leicester on points, have only 1 player who has accomplished the same (James Milner won it twice with Manchester City).

Leicester City v Everton - Premier League
Leicester City v Everton - Premier League

Leicester have been doing a lot right since the beginning of this season but a lot is still at stake. Leicester play Liverpool and Manchester City before the turn of the year. A sizeable look of the points table in May, could be conceived during the festive period, as is often the case. Klopp's Liverpool have been fortunate at times this season but are well on their way to winning the league. The odds are against Leicester, but so were they back in 15/16, and you know how that worked out.


"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Source(s): www.understat.com, www.statsbomb.com

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