SOT DIFF v1.3 – Beauty and The Beast and the Best in the League

To conclude our work on SOT Diff, we take a look at Man City’s top two and see where they stand in the SOT Diff rankings.

I do solemnly swear that the this is the last piece on SOT Diff for a while. But before we put it back in the cupboard under the stairs and let the dust gather we should really give it one last hurrah.

It would be criminal to discuss shooting efficiencies without mentioning Man City’s power couple Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo.

It kind of feels like that due to the lack of recognisable acronyms their names produce Aguero and Negredo have been playing second fiddle to Suarez and Sturridge so far this season. Nevertheless, Beauty and the Beast have quickly formed a formidable partnership that has so far managed 24 goals. But just how efficient have they been in front of goal? How have they measured up to their expectations? And how do they influence their teams Shots on Target?

As an added element to the piece I will look back at all the players we have analysed over the last three pieces and decide who has been the most efficient in front of goal. Therefore, to save time and space we’ll look at Aguero and Negredo together. If you haven’t read the pieces on Giroud ( ) and The (shudder) SAS ( here ) I recommend you do, so you have some form of a clue as to what the hell I’m talking about.

Negredo and Aguero SOT Diff at The Etihad

Here’s the numbers:

Round one to Aguero. His average SOT Diff at home this season has been 1 per game, Negredo is operating closer to expectations with an average of 0.4 per game. The Argentine has yet to dip below his expectations and on a couple of occasions, torn said expectations into tiny little pieces. This is not to take anything away from Negredo though, the only two games where he has underperformed have been against (traditionally) pretty testing competition. Still, I can’t help but wonder what kind of game Monday night would have been if Aguero was on the field.

Negredo and Aguero SOT Diff on the road

Negredo has been pretty constant in his abilities this season, his average SOT Diff away from home is 0.3 – just slightly lower than his home average. Meanwhile though,  Aguero has actually performed better away than at home, he has averaged out at 2 extra SOTs per game than expected – one better than his home average. Moreover, he has done just as well against stiff competition, such as Chelsea and Southampton, as he has against more flimsy opponents. No prizes then for guessing which of the two players has performed better in City’s hardest games this season…

Negredo and Aguero SOT Diff in Hardest Games

Aguero keeps getting better and better. He is what Suarez is to Liverpool and what Giroud definitely is not to Arsenal – a talisman, the big game player that a team looks to in challenging situations. His average in these games has been 3 extra SOTs. Of course there have only been three games and the average will undoubtedly drop but the numbers he has posted in these games are nevertheless, astounding.

Without trying to be patronising in light of Aguero’s achievements, Negredo has done pretty well in these games also. He has averaged at 0.8 extra SOTs per game – his highest average of the lot. Whats more, he has shown that he can operate without Aguero in these situations by going 2 over his expected against Liverpool.

Man City, Aguero and Negredo SOT Diff Comparison

Here are the numbers and those lovely, lovely bouncing balls:

And just to be thorough, here’s a combo chart:

What are we seeing here?

Well, on a basic level we are seeing that Aguero is more accurate in front of goal, the Argentine tests the keeper with about 60% of his shots whilst Negredo does this 51% of the time. But there is more going on than just accuracy.

If we look at Negredo first. As regards SOTs Negredo is undoubtedly a more than competent player, we have seen that he has on average slightly over -performed but when we isolate his numbers I am of the opinion that we are looking at a player whose success is a by-product of his team’s:

In general when City do well, Negredo does well, if City under-perform, Negredo under-performs. Perhaps the defeat to Chelsea on Monday night is a prime example. In the 56 minutes Negredo was on the field he was expected to get 1 shot on target, he got none – he did have two shots but both went sailing over Petr Cech’s crossbar. Generally City under-performed and Negredo was denied any form of space that may have allowed him to carve out a half-decent effort. Of course, everyone is allowed an off day from time to time, but I think the point is still valid – Negredo needs to have an on-the-ball Man City team behind him in order to reach his potential.

There is, however, a caveat to this point. There has been one point in the season where Negredo has been more influential for City and that was in the string of games between away at Fulham and away to Newcastle. In four of these five games Negredo out-performed City for SOT Diff. Interestingly, Aguero was injured for these five games. Does this mean City can get by without their Argentine?

Undoubtedly they can but it doesn’t come recommended. I think that Aguero doesn’t necessarily need City to be firing on all cylinders in order to over-perform. On 5 seperate occasions Aguero has beaten his SOT expectation by more than City and when City have had a barn-stormer generally Aguero has been a main contributor. On top of that Aguero is yet to be part of a match where he under-performs any worse than his team.

But how does Aguero’s SOT Diff compare to the other forwards we have looked at over the past couple of weeks? That’s right ladies and gentlemen, it is now time for the SOT Diff Review and as a special treat it comes to you in the form of a pretty infographic. Enjoy and I’ll be seeing you on the other side.

How do we conclude?

I don’t think you need three articles on SOT Diff and some colourful pictures to tell you that the two stand out players from the five this season have been Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero. That being said, I don’t think this analysis is without merit – if nothing else I think it gives us an idea of the value of these two players to their teams. So perhaps this is the right way to conclude, nimbly side stepping the officiousness of naming the best SOT Diff with a clever turn of phrase we can ask who out of Suarez and Aguero is the more valuable player when comparing SOT Diffs?

Aguero. That may smack of favouritism coming from a City fan and clearly Suarez has scored more goals and is much more responsible for his team’s SOTs this season but I genuinely believe after comparing their SOT Diff data that Sergio Aguero is more valuable (in a non-fiscal sense) than Luis Suarez. Let me explain myself

  • Right off the bat I’m cheating. Something I haven’t mentioned is that whilst Suarez has scored 8 more goals than Aguero so far this season they are actually scoring at the same rate. Both players are currently taking 2.3 SOTs to hit the back of the net.
  • Back to the available information, we can see in infographic that Aguero is more successful than Suarez in away games and against his team’s hardest opponents. I should qualify this by saying that Aguero has only played in 3 of City’s  hardest games whilst Suarez has played in 6. Still, look back at what Aguero has achieved – a SOT Diff of 3 against Chelsea, 4 against Spurs and 2 against Southampton. This was kind of the reason I wanted to look at SOT Diffs in the first place, to say so and so gets a lot of SOTs in a season is an interesting stat but who did he get them against? At this point in time I think I would have a fair shout at getting an SOT against Fulham so should we laud Suarez for doing it? So whilst the Uruguayan managed 5 against Spurs, his next most impressive showing in Liverpool’s toughest game was an extra SOT against Everton.
  • I could be pedantic and say that City have a better SOT Diff as a team when Aguero is on the pitch than Liverpool do when Suarez is playing but the difference is about 0.1. This does though underline the importance of the two forwards.
  • I mentioned earlier that in 5 games this season Aguero has had a higher SOT Diff than City. That makes him a very useful player indeed – his team can be having an off day and still he will be able to deliver the goods. Suarez has managed that feat this season, but only in two games.
  • Finally, there is the matter of game states. I noted in the last piece about Liverpool’s top two that Suarez has regularly scored when his team are already winning. I noted that whilst this is advantageous such goals are not as important as the ones that put a team into the lead or bring them back from a losing scoreline. Suarez has shot Liverpool into the lead 5 times but that only makes up for about 1/5 of his goals and he is yet to score when Liverpool are in a losing position. On the other hand Aguero has put Man City into the lead 7 times times – amounting to almost 50% of his goals this season – and whilst he has only done it once, he has brought City back from a goal down.

And so that is why I feel that Aguero is more valuable in terms of SOT Diff than Suarez. I hasten to emphasise that this is just an opinion, others may look at the data differently and it is worth remembering that we are working with a  proportionately small sample of data.

Finally it is worth noting that whilst Aguero has been a key player for City this season he is nevertheless replaceable, unlike Suarez. Liverpool without Suarez would not be in the impressive position they currently find themselves. Sturridge has been impressive this season but look at Liverpool’s SOT Diff for the first 5 games when his partner was unavailable compared to the rest of the season. On top of that, we also noted in the last piece that Sturridge’s SOT Diff is much improved when Suarez is beside him.

Things are slightly different over in Manchester, there is Edin Dzeko – City’s top scorer last season- a recovering Stevan Jovetic and a free-scoring Yaya Toure as well as Negredo. In bad metaphor parlance Aguero is a string in City’s bow, Suarez is a big part of Liverpool’s quiver.

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