The first part of this article was published after 6 games had been played in the Premier League – you can click here on the article titled: Long Ball in the Premier League (with no mention of Madrid or Barca) – part 2 is below.
Long Ball Analysis
Sorry, my bad. I just couldn’t resist. I’ve jumped the gun and I apologise.
Instead of my promised once-every-six-games look at long ball statistics, after the best start to a season in West Ham’s Premiership history, I’ve decided to have a look at these stats after 11 games, for all teams except Reading and Sunderland (who have played 10 games).
So, into the nitty gritty:
West Ham’s long ball % has decreased, only marginally, but it has decreased.
Newcastle on the other hand, as we saw on Sunday in our 1-0 win at St James’ Park, are the most direct team in the league, and this is backed up by our recent analysis, as seen below.
I’ve added the 6 game long ball % totals to the table too, so that we can see if and when certain teams are increasing or decreasing their usage of passes over 25 yards, which constitutes a ‘long ball’ for OPTA.
It’s interesting, too, that out of the teams in this phase of the table, it’s only West Ham, Stoke and Reading who have decreased their long ball %, with Aston Villa, Norwich and Newcastle increasing theirs.
Both Norwich and Aston Villa have been in better form in their last five games than in their first six. That this upturn in form might be in part due to the change to their playing style provides food for thought.
Next we have the middle tier of teams, as seen below.
Tottenham, Wigan and Chelsea have seen a virtually identical long ball % over the last five games, with an increase only for Fulham.
Decreases are seen for QPR, Sunderland (with a 2% jump, and who have been in awful form recently) and Everton.
Finally, it’s time to look at the five teams who have the lowest long ball % in the EPL.
None of the teams who feature in this table come as a great surprise. However, Man City have had the biggest jump in terms of a 4% decrease in long balls.
Well there is nothing that is proven with this type of analysis, all it does is give us an insight into how teams are using passes of more than 25 yards.
It does show however that the direct style that is largely rammed down the throats of many West Ham Supporters specifically, is largely untrue.
We must also take into consideration that these numbers have incredible small margins of change and none, except for may be Manchester City’s, show a specific change of playing style in any of the EPL Clubs from their first 6 games, to where we currently are in terms of games played for all.