Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

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How I use Stathead FBref

I am proud to announce I am an FBref Brand Ambassador! Tottenham have averaged 0.64 fewer goals when they have more than 70% possession compared to when they have less than 55% possession. Here I explain how I used Stathead to gather that FBref data.

Figure 1.1 - Space wide against Burnley.

Tottenham is a team that benefits from quick transitions into space in the final third, and they need that space to attack. One-touch two-touch football, quick, third man runs.

I didn’t have a data point to point to but it felt like when they play against a team that sits back, a team that allows them to have the majority of possession with little space in the final third, they have a harder time scoring than when they are able to take risks.

With Stathead, I can take that idea and quickly grab the data to back up my theory.

The sample size is small but by using their “Team Match Stats Finder,” I can filter out all of FBref’s data into one table.

Figure 2.1 - Stathead Team Match Stats Finder search criteria

You can view the search I used to create this graphic here. I went for touches in the attacking penalty area and average shot distance as my outlying data, but if you go to that link you can change and add other criteria.

I took the data from that search and made this graphic. I found the shot distance data to be interesting.

You’d expect that when they have 70% possession, facing a team sitting back in their own end, the average shot distance would be further out than when they have less possession, against teams that defend more aggressively.

When they have less than 55% possession they are taking shots from further out.

Figure 3.1 - Pedro Porro and Destiny Udogie invert into the half-space, and Porro runs forward behind Luton Town's back-line.
Figure 4.1 - Tottenham against West Ham's compact low-block.

The full-backs Udogie and Porro are inverted, pushing into the half-spaces. When they get a chance, when they have the space, they take the shot. It’s quick, it’s direct.

When the opposition packs the box, doesn’t give them that space, they seem to run out of ideas. They need that free man to take the shot. They look stale. The ball starts getting passed around slower. They look for that through ball to get a shot off closer to goal, but the space never opens. There’s no room for the runners. And then when they run out of ideas, they’ll take a pot shot from the edge of the box that goes far over the bar.

Son Heung-min has 13 goals and assists, 1.47 G+A per 90 minutes, when Tottenham have less than 60% possession. When Tottenham have more than 60% possession, he only had 7 goals and assists, 0.62 G+A per 90.

The output is coming from the basketball games. Back and forth, fast-paced. Tottenham needs to figure out how to replicate that output in the cagey games when teams hunker down and defend first.

If you would like to learn more about Stathead, view FBref’s tutorials and check out their sample searches to give you some more ideas.

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