On a weekend when the best games on TV are Bolton V Tottenham and Napoli V Inter, I just have to find other ways of amusing myself. As regular readers will know one of these ways is playing with numbers. So here I am at it again.
Did you know that Chelsea have conceded first in 8 or their 26 games while Arsenal have conceded in 9 and United in 10? While there’s nothing fascinating about these numbers, the results of these games are quite interesting.
GCF: Games when Conceded First; W: Won; D:Drawn; L:Lost; PR: Points Recovered; PL: Points Lost; TPL: Total Points Lost.
Chelsea are clear leaders in recovering points and turning games around. They have recovered 15 points out of a possible 24 while losing only one game. In a tightly fought league this ability has certainly gone a long way in giving them a slender lead.
Arsenal and United on the other hand have lost five of these games. We have won three of our nine and United only have twenty percent success in such games. Clearly, conceding the first goal makes life difficult. In fact, United have lost only five games this season and all by a 1-0 scoreline. They have only turned it around twice in ten games and one of those was against us. It further highlights how we gifted the points in that game. (Just for the sake of it, if you reverse that result we would be ahead of them in the league.)
The last column shows the total points a team has dropped. Chelsea have dropped 20 points in total and that means they have given away 11 points from a winning position. That’s a surprising number for a team with such a strong defense. While they have the same number of points as us in the away table, they have lost three games after scoring first. It is a clear indication of how bad their away form is. Perhaps this is the reason why they are not running away with the league title and I have a feeling these numbers will only worsen as the season goes down to the wire.
In direct contrast, United have lost all their points when they have conceded first. In other words, if the Mancs score first you can wave the points goodbye! No matter who you are you just cannot get anything out of the game. We have first hand experience of this in the league and in the Champions League. There’s something about Fergie, all his teams have had this trait and it’s one of the cornerstones of their success.
Arsenal on the other hand have lost seven points after scoring first. Three of those were against United and the others were draws against West Ham and Burnley. We also had a 0-0 draw with Villa that doesn’t fall into either category.
We’ve all talked about the importance of the first goal and this analysis quantifies that importance to some extent. We’ve also seen the problems when we concede first in big games. I guess the Liverpool game showed that we can always score a late goal and win but it’s generally difficult to come back into a game after conceding first. Maybe there is a tactical pointer in there somewhere.