A Statistical View: Goals As Points In Chelsea's 2011/12 Season

Frank Lampard's secret talent is being able to point to both Vega and Deneb at all times.

I've had a post like this on my mind for a little while now but Miguel Delaney's look at the point values of goals across the Premier League (it's good, so go take a look) prodded me into action. We know who's been scoring for Chelsea this season, but how many points have those goals been worth? Is there a reasonable way of arriving at a realistic points value for each goal?

One way of attacking this question is to simply assume that a goal that gives the team a lead is worth two points and one that brings things level is worth one. That's more or less the approach Miguel took, and it's reasonable enough, but I'm going to go about things in a different way, allowing all goals to count but embedding them in a win expectancy matrix. This incorporates timing of events - a goal to make things 1-0 in the second minute is significantly less valuable than one that makes it 1-0 in the 95th - and allows us to correct things for things like goals from penalties. Let's take a look at Chelsea's numbers.

NB: I'd like to stress that this isn't really a measure of 'value' since it doesn't take into account defending or buildup play, both of which are worth significant amounts of points on their own. It's simply a statistic that attempts to describe the value of goals scored by an individual player rather than the value of that player.

PlayerP (G)

Frank Lampard5.72 (10)
John Terry2.82 (4)
Didier Drogba2.56 (5)
Juan Mata2.51 (5)
Ramires1.93 (4)
Own Goal1.80 (2)
Florent Malouda1.58 (1)
Gary Cahill1.18 (1)
David Luiz1.06 (2)
Nicolas Anelka0.91 (1)
Fernando Torres0.87 (2)
Raul Meireles0.82 (1)
Jose Bosingwa0.68 (1)
Salomon Kalou0.18 (1)

It should come as no surprise that the players with the most goals are also worth the most points. Frank Lampard and Daniel Sturridge, with ten and nine goals apiece, lead the way, and only one other player is within three points of Lampard's total.

In Miguel's analysis, Lampard was worth a full twelve points, but he suffers badly here from the devaluation of the penalty, which hurts him on the winning goals against Norwich City and Manchester City. Lampard does, however, have the single most impactful (is that a word?) goal of the season - his 89th minute winner against Wolverhampton was worth 1.81 points.

The second most important goal, points-wise, was Florent Malouda's winner against West Bromwich Albion at home way back in August. The winger hasn't scored since, but he's still contributed 1.58 points to the cause via his goal, which is more than all but six members of the squad.

The average Chelsea goal, incidentally, was worth about 0.61 points. If we then apply that figure to each player's tally, we can figure out how important, or 'clutch', a players' goals have been. Every player with multiple goals is either average in the clutch or worse - except one: John Terry.

Terry's scored four goals in the league this season, and none has been worth fewer than 0.41 points. Compare that to the likes of Ramires and Juan Mata, who've both padded their numbers with relatively meaningless goals - Ramires, in particular, has two goals worth less than 0.1 point each.

That own goals number is interesting. Jonny Evans and Neil Taylor have each scored an important goal for Chelsea, with Evans notching the opener vs. Manchester United and Taylor the last-minute equaliser at Swansea. Both goals were scored via deflected crosses, and it would have been easy to add the former to Sturridge's total for him to take the overall lead, or the latter to Bosingwa to vault him up past Malouda. In keeping with the official stats, however, I decided to do neither.

What happens if we change up our parameters a little bit and present the players in order of points 'earned' per 90 minutes of play? That would be a little bit fairer for those, like Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres, who've seen limited time this season. Let's take a look. The values for minutes played, as ever, come from the excellent football stats site EPL Index.

PlayerP/90M

Daniel Sturridge0.31
Frank Lampard0.27
Gary Cahill0.24
Nicolas Anelka0.20
Didier Drogba0.19
Florent Malouda0.18
John Terry0.12
Juan Mata0.11
Ramires0.09
David Luiz0.06
Fernando Torres0.06
Salomon Kalou0.06
Raul Meireles0.05
Jose Bosingwa0.04

Danny Sturridge takes the lead from Frank Lampard here, but both top performers from the previous table are unsurprisingly still doing very well by this measurement.

Gary Cahill, meanwhile, sees a huge improvement when his goal against Manchester City this week is compared to his actual time on the pitch for Chelsea. He's played just five full games this season, and has the fourth most important goal that the Blues have scored. It's just a shame they couldn't hold on.

It's notable, I suppose, that out of all of the strikers it's Fernando Torres and Salomon Kalou who contribute the fewest points per match. That's hardly a surprise, considering they have three goals between them, but it's still a little disheartening. You'd have to imagine that scoring a big goal rather than just padding his numbers against Leicester would be a huge boost to Torres and his defenders.

Ramires and Mata, as alluded to above, both see their stock slip slightly here. While both have scored some very important goals, they've done a lot of padding their statistics with late strikes in games that have already been won.

What do you all think? Intriguing numbers? Useless? Any stats there that surprise you? Personally, I think this is a pretty cool way of tracking Chelsea's season - I just wish that point expectancy added was more easily available.

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