With victory over Fulham last weekend, Manchester City set a new record for consecutive home victories. The 3-0 win was their twelfth successive win of the 2011/12 season and the five games they won in a row to close out 2010/11 sees their run now stand at a very impressive 17 games and City now have the all-time Premier League record within their sights.
Of late though – and after some comprehensive early season victories – their away form has stuttered: defeats to Sunderland, Chelsea and Everton all coming since the turn of the year.
As we head towards the final third of the season, City know they will need to correct this away form but also maintain their dominance at The Etihad Stadium if they are to emerge victorious come the end of May.
With a sample size of 24 games (12 home and 12 away) there is sufficient data available to look at some of the key areas around the passing game, offensive and defensive areas to look at any trends that indicate reasons for City’s performance over the course of the season to date.
The difference between the home and away numbers are very small indeed, and if anything are surprising in that overall City have a higher overall number of passing attempts and completions. This is also shown in both the defensive half and final third numbers, but City do have a higher number of both attempts and completions at The Etihad Stadium in their opponents half than they do away from home:
There are also few differences in terms of percentage completion rate between home and away games but out of the three categories – Defensive half, Attacking half and Final third – it is the Attacking half that shows the biggest difference in terms of attempts and completions, averaging eight more per game in both categories. One area that does stand out though is that at home City have passed the 300 passing attempts in eight of their twelve games, whilst this mark has been achieved ten times away from home – the two games against Norwich and Stoke at home (445/529 and 524/597 attempts/completions respectively) clearly boosting their numbers.
Overall, City have passed the 200 mark in Final Third attempts and completions on two occasions (the emphatic wins over Norwich and Stoke) whilst they have passed 200 attempts, but not completions on their trips to West Brom and Sunderland – both games that City frustrated and unable to get on the scoresheet against resolute defences. On the other occasion they failed to score away from home they attempted 191 passes at Everton.
Away from home City have also been more inclined to play higher up the pitch and have averaged around eight more (67.58-59.83) Final Third entries, which as a total is some 93 (811-718) more. City also average less at The Etihad Stadium in terms of touches, averaging 763.16 away from compared to 755.67 at home (9158-9068) – again, a surprise when considering that away from home a side is generally thought to be less prone to having plenty of possession and territorial advantage; relying more on counter attacking and breaks.
Where City’s home dominance does show is in terms of shots:
Overall, an average of under one shot per game difference is not stark, but the telling number is the shots on target: an advantage of 81-49 when at home, whereas away from home there is over a shot a game more off target.
At home too, City are more prolific in terms of shot productivity: scoring a goal every 5.81 shots at home compared with 7.61 away from home. Furthermore, the only two games where City failed to have ten shots on target were the consecutive games at Liverpool and Chelsea (where just a single point was picked up). City have also managed five or more on target on only four occasions away from home but nine times at home and are also more profligate on the road, registering ten occasions where they have had more than five shots off target, compared to just four occasions at The Etihad Stadium.
Interestingly though, whilst it is evident that are creating far more – and are more proficient in terms of shot conversion – there is a noticeable difference in converting chances. Whilst creating 93 less chances on the road (106-199) they have scored only eleven goals less (26-37), meaning they are converting chances into goals on average 1.31 chances less on their travels.
Where City’s home domination is really shown is in the defensive numbers, particularly so in the Tackles, Possessions and Aerial duels won/lost categories where the home numbers overshadow the away numbers where City’s average is far lower in terms of battles won:
Away from home too shows City’s defence is a far busier one, making more Blocks (44-31) and Clearances (333-194) but it is in the Chances and Goals categories that it is key: City conceding around a chance per game less at home but conceding only six goals compared to 13 away from home, which equates to a differential in terms of chances conceded per goal of 11.15 on the road compared to 19.5 at home – although of note is that when winning away from home City have conceded seven goals from 70 chances (at an average of 10 chances per goal) whilst when failing to get victory they have conceded only six goals from 75 chances (12.5 chances per goal), indicating that when failing to win away from home it has been more a case of the attack being unable to convert as opposed to the defence being more porous given that they have managed just four goals in those six games as opposed to 22 in the six where they were victorious.