The BBC website produces match reports for all of the games every single Premier League side plays during the season. From Premier League and FA Cup, to Champions League to League Cup ties the BBC reports on them all. I thought it would be interesting to compile all of these reports for each of the twenty Premier League sides, and to produce word-clouds for each side. If a particular word is used more often, then it is shown on screen as larger than the other less used words.
I created one for Square One Football Radio, and felt I should create word clouds for all twenty clubs. I used the excellent online tool wordle.net to create the word clouds. Please feel free to use these on your blog or website, but I’d appreciate a link back.
To see a higher resolution image of the word cloud, click on it.
In the late 1970s a company called Marshall Cavendish released a series of football magazines which the avid reader would slip into binders to create their very own football encyclopaedia. One of the articles contained within is a lament about the struggles of the British game and part of the argument for improvements made by the author suggests the introduction of a British Super-League.
The author has chosen an interesting selection of sides, many of which would be unlikely to feature should the list be drawn up today. He uses criteria such as recent attendances as well as success to decide whether clubs should be admitted to such a league.
Would these be the super-clubs?
The proposed British super-league contains a few oddities. The first being that the two Edinburgh and Sheffield clubs are expected to merge (and are even wearing half-and-half kits to denote that). Other interesting aspects of the proposal are that teams like Coventry City and Derby County are included amongst the elite.
Clubs proposed: Celtic, Rangers, Edinburgh, Newcastle United, Liverpool, Manchester United, Leeds United, Sheffield, Everton, Manchester City, Wolves, West Brom, Coventry City, Derby County, Nottingham Forest, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Southampton.
Interesting omissions: Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Sunderland and the exclusion of all Welsh/Irish clubs (though perhaps understandable).
You might assume that the practice of two English clubs facing one another abroad was a recent invention, something adopted as part of the Premier League’s plan for global domination, however that assumption is far from correct. We haven’t quite reached the point where a Premier League match is hosted abroad, but that can’t be too far away, however friendly matches involving two English clubs are commonplace in the pre-season calendar (America and the far East being the two favoured destinations).
I was pleased to see on twitter early this evening James Dart posting a link to a match programme from 1989 featuring Middlesbrough and Coventry City. The two clubs were both on tour in Bermuda at the time and played one another in a friendly. A poorly filmed YouTube video shows Peter Davenport scoring a goal for Middlesbrough. (Hat tip to Christopher Ledger for that).
Whilst 1989 may seem like the dim and distant past, there are instances of English teams playing one another on foreign soil from early in the 20th Century. A great example of this comes from Willy Meisl’s book “Soccer Revolution”:
“Then on 7 May 1905 Hugo* staged an exhibition game between Everton and Tottenham. The two teams fought as if it were a Cup-tie. Never before had the 10,000 spectators – the crowd record was doubled by this sensational encounter – seen such tackling. Tottenham were favourites, but Everton won 2-0.”
* – Hugo Meisl, the author Willy’s brother who managed the Austrian ‘Wunderteam’ during the 1930s
If a club wins both the home fixture and the away fixture during a league season then they are said to have “done the double” over that side. In the Premier League during the 2012/2013 season 16 of the 20 sides did the double over a rival.
The following lists show the teams that each club in the Premier League managed to do the double against.
Manchester United: Southampton, Sunderland, Stoke City, QPR, Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Fulham, Wigan Athletic, Reading and Liverpool.
Chelsea: Sunderland, Stoke City, Aston Villa, Norwich City, Everton, Wigan Athletic and Arsenal.
Arsenal: QPR, Newcastle United, West Brom, West Ham, Wigan Athletic and Reading.
ManchesterCity: Newcastle United, Aston Villa, West Brom, Fulham, Wigan Athletic and Reading.
Tottenham Hotspur: Southampton, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Swansea City, West Ham and Reading.
Liverpool: QPR, Norwich City, Fulham and Wigan Athletic.
West Brom: Southampton, Sunderland, QPR and Liverpool.
Swansea City: QPR, Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic.
AstonVilla: Sunderland and Reading.
Southampton: Aston Villa and Reading.
Everton: West Ham.
Fulham: West Brom.
Sunderland: Wigan Athletic,
Stoke City: QPR.
Newcastle United: QPR.
Wigan Athletic: Reading
Norwich City: None.
West Ham: None.
Of the three relegated sides Wigan Athletic were the only team who managed to win home and away against another club (Wigan did the double over fellow relegated side Reading).
Four sides in the Premier League did not lose home and away to another club. Those sides were Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Manchester United. Nine clubs did the double over eventual FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic.
Manchester United were the club who picked up the most Premier League points during 2012. They are followed by their city rivals Manchester City who despite losing the same number of games as United, couldn’t convert many of their draws to wins.
Interestingly Everton picked up more points than both Chelsea and Arsenal during 2012 though this may have something to do with the fact that Everton played more games than both Chelsea and Arsenal during the year. Additionally the contrast between Everton and their neighbours across Stanley Park is stark. Liverpool only won 11 out of their 38 games in 2012. The only two sides who weren’t relegated or promoted during 2012 with a lower points tally than Liverpool were Aston Villa and QPR.
For more statistics related to the 2012 calendar year including stats from the Football League, take a look at the ever excellent Sporting Intelligence.
The close season is traditionally a time where clubs jettison their weak players, replacing them with footballers with the skill to take the club one step further, whether that be to qualify or European competition or avoid another year’s relegation struggle. With that in mind I thought it would be interesting to see which clubs decided a wholesale change would be preferable to keeping faith with the players who toiled their way through the 2011/2012 season.
I took the line-ups from the last day’s action of the twenty Premier League sides of the 2011/2012 season (this includes West Ham, Southampton and Reading’s last Championship game of the season) and compared these line-ups with the opening day of this year’s Premier League season (2012/2013). The headline figure from this process is that 40% of all players who started the first game of the 2012/2013 season did not start in the last game of the 2011/2012 season (or if they did, it was for a different football club). Obviously this 40% is not entirely made up of new signings as it also includes players who were on the squads of their current teams last season but for whatever reason (be that injury or not being selected) did not start the game.
Of the twenty current Premier League clubs no club fielded an identical line-up between the end of last season and the start of this season. However, two clubs made only one change. These two clubs were Everton and Manchester City who fielded ten players on the last day of the 2011/2012 season that also started in the club’s opening fixture this season. The only difference between the Everton XI against Newcastle United in 2011/2012 and their opening day side that started (and defeated) Manchester United is that Sylvian Distin started against Manchester United. Interestingly Distin did play against Newcastle in 2011/2012 when he came on as a substitute for Hetinga. We weren’t to know it at the time but between the minutes of ’70 and ’74 the team Everton had on the field against Newcastle United would be the identical eleven that would start the season against Manchester United over three months later. It’s perhaps ironic (if you enjoy using the term loosely, or incorrectly) that the only change in Manchester City‘s starting line-up for their opening day 3-2 victory over Southampton to their last day win against QPR was the inclusion of Everton’s (another club who enjoy making few changes) Jack Rodwell (a replacement for Gareth Barry).
Two clubs who enjoyed successful seasons in 2011/2012 also made very few changes. Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United only made two changes between the end of last season and the beginning of this. Wigan Athletic brought in new signing Ivan Ramis and burly centre-half Alvaro Alcaraz whilst Alan Pardew also made defensive changes with Danny Simpson and Steve Taylor joining the starting XI. Of all the Premier League clubs it’s only Everton and Newcastle United that fielded starting elevens on the opening day of the 2012/2013 season who were also contracted to the club in the previous season.
Tottenham Hotspur, Reading and Stoke City all started eight players who started last season’s finale. The three clubs had differing reasons for their trio of changes. Spurs were under a new manager in Andre Villas-Boas who was trying to put his own stamp on the side with new signing Gylfi Sigurdsson starting alongside Jermaine Defoe in attack. The Biscuitmen, promoted under Brian McDermott last season, fielded three new signings in Chris Gunter, Danny Guthrie and Pavel Pogrebnyak who they hope will help keep them in the division. Finally Stoke City in an attempt to consolidate their presence in the Premier League started with Marc Wilson, Asmir Begovic and Michael Kightly, none started The Potters’ final game of the 2011/2012 season.
Sunderland, Southampton, Swansea City and West Ham United began the season with seven of the eleven who began the last game of the previous season. Notable signings for these sides included Swansea’s Michu and Chico who have made impacts for differing reasons in the opening weeks of the season for their goalscoring and red card exploits. Similarly to Reading, Saints have signed players they feel are good enough to keep them in the division, both Jay Rodriguez and Nathaniel Clyne started in their opening 2012/2013 fixture. Martin O’Neil has started his first full season as Sunderland boss and fielded new signing Carlos Cuellar in the Rokerites’ (no I didn’t get the memo) first match of the season.
2011/2012 Premier League runners-up Manchester United fielded five players on the opening day who didn’t start the last game of the previous seaosn. These included the injured Tom Cleverley and Nemanja Vidic as well as new signing Shinji Kigawa. Other clubs who featured five different players were Fulham, Norwich City and West Brom.
QPR and Liverpool were the two sides that fielded five players for the last game of the 2011/2012 season who also started the 2012/2013 season. QPR’s slapdash signings have led to the likes of Fabio, Ji-Sung Park, Robert Green and confused Julian Hoilett playing for the London club whilst Liverpool’s new boss Brendan Rodgers has brought the likes of Joe Allen and Fabio Borini to Anfield.
The four Arsenal players to survive from the last game of last season were Gervinho, Wojciech Szczesny, Thomas Vermaelen and Carl Jenkinson. The seven players who started this season were Santiago Cazorla, Abou Diaby, Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski, Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker and Kieran Gibbs. Podolski and Carzola were the two new signings for the north-London club. The other five players were already on the books at Arsenal.
Only three of Chelsea‘s line-up for the final game of the 2011/2012 season started this season’s opener. This can largely be explained by the fact that Roberto di Matteo was resting a lot of his star men in preparation for the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich. I think it’s fair to say that this tactic worked as his Chelsea side were victorious in a penalty shoout-out after a gruelling period of extra-time. For the record, the three Chelsea players who played in last season’s last game and this season’s opener were Ryan Bertrand, captain-fantastic John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic.
The other side who only had three players to achieve the feat were Aston Villa. I think this case is a little less surprising than most. Villa sacked their manager Alex McLeish in the summer, replacing him with Norwich boss Paul Lambert. Despite replacing a Scotsman with a Scotsman it appears Lambert has his own ideas on how he wants Aston Villa to play. The only three players who started in McLeish’s last game and Lambert’s first were Stephen Ireland. Ciaran Clark and Shay Given.
The below word cloud was generated using all of Everton’s match reports from the BBC website from the 2011/2012 season. The more frequently a word is used, the larger it appears on screen. The image was generated using the wonderful wordle.net.
Click to make bigger
I think most people know what they’re going to get with Everton these days. They never seem to quite trouble the European places, but they also never really get themselves into a relegation scrap. I suppose that’s why Moyes features less heavily than other managers do in their word clouds. A lot of credit needs to be given to Croatian striker Nicola Jelavic who features strongly on the cloud despite only signing from Rangers in the January transfer window.
Following on from the post I made earlier in the week regarding foreign players in the Championship here we have the same information but for the top flight – The Premier League. As you would expect this division features a higher proportion of foreign players than the Championship. However, it’s interesting to note that 68 different nationalities were used in the Premier League during the 2011/2012 season, one fewer – 67 – were used in the Championship.
Of the 522 players that played in the Premier League 212 of them were Englishmen. In my opinion that should be a decent enough pool of players for an England manager to pick from. Talk of sanctions to free up more spaces for average English players over foreign counterparts seems a pointless exercise when that many players are playing top flight football.
The table below shows data on each of the twenty-four clubs in the Premier League and the nationalities who played during the 2011/2012 season. The columns are as follows, Nats: number of nationalities used, Plyrs: total number of players used, Eng: Englishmen used (Sco, Wal, NI, Ire self-explanatory). %Eng is the percentage of the total number of players used who are English whilst %B&I is the percentage of players used who are from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. Whilst I understand that Ireland is a foreign country I feel that this metric is useful as players from the Republic of Ireland have been integral parts of squads in the football pyramid for many years.
Premier League nationality breakdown 2011/2012
No team fielded more Englishmen than QPR during the season (19) though it should be remembered that QPR fielded the most players (35) in the same period. Stoke City operated with the smallest (but almost certainly tallest) squad of 23 and it was Wigan Athletic who featured the fewest Englishmen during the season (3).
Wolves’ doomed campaign featured the most Irish players (6), they also fielded 3 Welshmen during the season though Swansea City fielded the most Welsh players (4). Wigan Athletic’s survival was helped along by their 3 Scotsmen whilst both West Brom and Fulham featured 2 Northern Irishmen in their Premier League campaigns for 2011/2012.
Of the players who turned out for Champions League victors Chelsea, only 28% of them were “British & Irish” whilst Norwich City players were 85% “British & Irish”. The team that we can all label “the foreign legion” are Arsenal who featured 22% “British & Irish” players during the 2011/2012 season. Wigan Athletic fielded the lowest percentage of Englishmen with 13% of their players being eligible for England.
As a follow up to my previous blogpost related to the different nationalities represented in the Premier League I thought it might be interesting to slice the data slightly differently. This time I’m going to look at player nationality by club. The data in this article relates to the nationality of players who started matches in the Premier League last season (2010/2011). For example, every club has 418 starting berths each season, that’s 11 players multiplied by 38 games. Of those 418 potential starting berths, Birmingham City used 242 Englishmen. That’s a percentage of around 57%.
Only six teams in the Premier League last season fielded teams that featured more than 50% Englishmen. These were Birmingham City, Aston Villa, Sunderland, Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United and West Ham United. The following table displays the most English clubs in the Premier League last season.
Clubs with most English starting players in the Premier League 2010/2011 season
A few things of note:
The three relegated sides Birmingham City, Blackpool and West Ham are in the top seven most English sides.
It is Wigan Athletic and Arsenal who have the least English sides by far. They are also the only two clubs in the Premier League whose most used nationality was not English. Arsenal’s was (unsurprisingly) French, whilst Wigan Athletic had more Honduran starters than any other nationality last season.
Of England’s Champions League representatives for the 2011/2012 season it is Manchester City who are the most English having started Englishmen 43 more times than their city rivals Manchester United.
Clubs featuring most of one particular nationaliy
A few things to note on the above data:
Wolves feature a large number of Irishmen, this is probably unsurprising due to their manager being ex-Ireland international Mick McCarthy.
Blackpool were the “most Welsh” Premier League side during 2010/2011. Both David Vaughan and Neal Eardley featured regularly for the Tangerines.
Fulham featured a number of Northern Irish players, a hang-over from Lawrie Sanchez’ era at Craven Cottage perhaps?
Liverpool featured more Spanish starters than any other side, their previous manager to Kenny Dalglishg was (of course) Spaniard Rafa Benitez,
Different nationalities starting games by club Premier League 2010/2011
A couple of things to note related to the above data:
The most English side Birmingham City also started the least number of nationalities (only 9) during the Premier League campaign.
West Brom used more than double the number of nationalities than Birmingham City.
If you have any ideas on ways this data can be further analysed I’d be happy to hear from you.
In 1888 twelve clubs from the Midlands and the North West of England took part in the first ever Football League season. Preston North End, Aston Villa, Wolves, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, West Brom, Accrington, Everton, Burnley, Derby County, Notts County and Stoke City will forever be remembered as founding members of the Football League. It’s interesting to note that Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool are nowhere to be seen, many of these clubs didn’t enter the Football League until much later.
The geographical location of the founding members is also interesting. West Bromwich Albion were the southern-most side in the division whilst Burnley were the northern-most. The longest journey any side would have to make is 109 miles (from West Brom to Burnley). Compare that to the 409 miles between Plymouth and Newcastle and you can soon see just how geographically localised the first Football League was.
Historical league positions of the founding members of the Football League
The above chart shows the progression of the twelve founding members of the Football League. This season (2010/2011) there were seven founding members in the Premier Division (Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, Everton, Stoke City, West Brom and Wolves). This is the highest number since the 79/80 season when seven clubs were part of the It means that around one third of the current top flight clubs were also members of the first ever top flight Football League season.
The all time low for the founding members came in the 1986/1987 season when only two clubs (Everton and Aston Villa) were in the top flight. That season Everton won the title. Aston Villa weren’t so lucky and finished rock bottom of Division One. They were replaced by Derby County for the 1987/1988, thus keeping the number of founding members at an all time low of two for another season.