Back in the May, Liverpool had an astonishing comeback against Barcelona in the UCL semifinals at Anfield. When it was an aggregate 3-3, Liverpool’s rightback Trent Alexander Arnold took a quick corner kick which led to the winning goal that took them to finals in which they won their 6th Champions League title.
What’s interesting about that winning goal was how quick the ball boy threw a ball to Alexander Arnold who was wise enough to take the corner kick swiftly.
This quick thinking from the ball boy was not an accident. According to reports, Liverpool’s match analyst noticed that Barcelona players tend to get distracted and upset whenever a free kick or a throw-in was awarded against them and apparently, Klopp saw this as an opportunity. Liverpool’s ball boys were specifically asked to serve Liverpool players as fast as possible.
What happened after was history.
When you are playing at the highest level in football, there aren’t too many things that are different between you and your opponent. That’s when the attention to details matters. Every detail counts.
Compared to sports like baseball, football has been pretty slow in accepting the importance of stats and proper analysis. While things have improved in the recent years, it is still a work in progress. Coaches like Pep and Klopp have changed the way we think about football. Their obsession towards details have helped them win trophies while playing aggressive and dominant football.
With the way things are going, data analytics is set to become the next big thing. Thus when I saw this tweet from StatsBomb’s co-founder and CEO, Ted Knutson, I must say I was really happy.
For anyone who doesn’t know about them, StatsBomb are a football analytics firm. They help teams to:
Recruit players, coaches
Analyse opponents game style, strengths and weaknesses
Do set piece analysis
Understand player characteristics
Form strategies to attack or defend etc.
I can understand what you’re thinking. Football is not about stats, there are much more important things than that. I wouldn’t blame you as we have seen cases in which the stats and analyses have failed to make any sense. We all know how Spurs went and bought 7 players in different positions with the money they got from selling Bale. Except Christian Eriksen, none of those players has lived up to the expectations.
However, when you combine stats and someone like Petr Cech who is one of the brilliant minds in football, this idea might turns out to be really useful. During Conte’s two seasons, we spent about 390m in total of which about 250m was useless spending as not one of those players turned out to be a regular starter for Chelsea. This still hurts since Manchester City and Liverpool have moved away so much from Chelsea that now we have a 25 point gap between them and us.
StatsBomb could help us close this 25 point gap between the top 2 sides and Chelsea with the help of informed decision making. Now, don’t think of them as miracle workers who are going to change everything overnight. That’s not possible. However, if used properly over the next few years, a firm like StatsBomb with their sophisticated technology could help us punch above our weight in the transfer market which is dominated by clubs like Manchester City, PSG, Real Madrid and Barcelona who are the biggest spenders in the football world.
Since it seems Chelsea are ready to serve the impending transfer ban, the 2020-21 transfer window would probably be the time when StatsBomb could really help us with all their innovative ideas about transfers. However, till then we can expect them to help us improve the other aspects of the game.
The arrival of Cech and a few more brilliant people along with StatsBomb could really be a start of something great at Stamford Bridge.