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Baker

"The Best"..... and "The Rest"!

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In the 2011/12 EPL season Fulham finished 5 points clear of

WBA, Swansea and Norwich creating a clear gap between the top 9 teams (“The Best”)

and the bottom 11 (“The Rest”). In my opinion none of the “The Rest” improved

enough over the summer to push to join “The Best” and none of the “The Best”

deteriorated enough to drop into “The Rest”.

In the 2011/12 season Norwich (we) had a record of 18(GP)- 2(W)-6(D)-10(L)  GF-20  GA-39

 pts-12  (PPG 0.67) against “The Best” and a record of

20(GP)-10(W)-5(D)-5(L)  GF- 32 GA- 27 pts

35 (PPG 1.75) against “The Rest”. Clearly our success last season was as a

result of our excellent record against “The Rest” and this record actually

shows that we were quite dominant and fully deserved a mid-table finish.

This season six of our first eight games are against “The Best”

so we were never going to have a stellar start. Compare this to Swansea, for

instance, who play seven games against “The Rest” in their first eight, or West

Ham who play six.

So far this season” The Rest” have played 30 games against “The

Best”. Their record in these games is a dismal 30(PL)-3(W)-9(D)-18(L) for a

total of 18 points (PPG 0.6). And they have only won 4 points away in this

series (4 draws, one of which was obviously us vs Spurs).  

It is therefore unlikely that we will get points against

Chelsea or Arsenal and we may well be bottom of the table after 8 games. But

this will not define our season. Our record against “The Rest” will determine

if we survive or not. I would be more concerned if I supported Aston Villa, QPR

or Swansea who have already lost twice and drawn once against “The Rest”. And

before you say that we couldn’t beat either QPR or West Ham at home so far this

season, last season our first two home games vs “The Rest” were 1-1 against

Stoke and 0-1 against WBA.

So don’t panic, stay the course and support our ultra-defensive

manager who played 4-4-2 at home against Liverpool this season as compared to our

dearly departed ultra-attacking manager who played 4-5-1 in the same fixture

last season!

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That''s good stuff.

 

Enjoyed that. If the points are evenly shared amongst the "rest" then points against the "best" are vital.

 

A single point from our next two games will be like manna from heaven and will put us in good stead to tackle the "rest."

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Excellent analysis. Staying in this league will always hinge upon your head-to-to record with the teams directly around you. The only concern I have is that because our league position every single game against the "rest" now carries enormous pressure, you start hearing the dreaded phrases "must win" and "6 pointer" from media and fans.

Last year we had a wonderful spell where we won 3 games out of 4 and pulled totally clear of danger early on. We never looked in any danger of going down after that and we were able to approach these games in a relaxed and confident manner. This season represents a different challenge. But I still believe the players are strong enough mentally and in terms of ability to come through.

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Cambridge we didn''t look too much in danger but with our record after the Swansea game so poor we were only safe with a few games left.

In any case I believe as it was last year we have to beat the teams who will be around us, not the liverpool''s and tottenham''s . Yes compete and who knows what can happen, Liverpool away, Chelsea and home and Tottenham away. But this year we have seen the performance against Tottenham and those our the standards the players have set themselves. So lets hope we see that over the next few games and then when we come up against the teams whom are battling for 17th with us, then we will see where we are. But this season is going to be much harder and if Hughton keeps us up then what a job he has done.

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I agree with much of this but there are a couple of things worth bearing in mind when comparing our two games against ''the rest'' this season. On paper we have a better squad than last season, and, both West Brom and Stoke had more Premier League experience last year, unlike West Ham and early strugglers QPR this. So I''m therefore not so sure we are doing so well against ''the rest'' despite having one more point when you factor this in. But hey!, its points that count right!?

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Excellent post. What we really need is some kind of relegation mini-league so we can see how we are really doing against our likely relegation rivals. Hopefully some poster will be resourceful enough to set one up.

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[quote user="Robert N. LiM"]Excellent post. What we really need is some kind of relegation mini-league so we can see how we are really doing against our likely relegation rivals. Hopefully some poster will be resourceful enough to set one up.[/quote][:D] [8-|]

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Good points but tells only part of the story. By and large last season we could not compete with the best. As for the other relegation threatened teams many had at least one or two good results against the top sides, Wigan and QPR in particular towards the end of the season. I agree with the general points made but i think we will need the odd unexpected win to stay up

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It does assume that "the best" and "the rest" will finish in the same positions as last season and that none of the newly promoted sides (West Ham) are good enough to become a top team either.

It also fails to take into account form, and is a very retrospective view. Liverpool will almost certainly be in amongst "the best" by the end of the season, but at the moment they''re poor and we could perhaps have hoped to have done better than a 5-2 loss (even if we didn''t quite mange to scrape any points).

However, I do pretty much agree with the sentiments in this post. I''ll wait until we''ve played the Swanseas, Stokes and Readings of the league before panicking too much, but I look at a lot of the teams in "the rest" so far this season, and I have to say that I think a large majority of them are better than us.

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I agree with the op up to a point - and of course it is important to have a good record against "the rest".    However, and its a big however, it could be argued that it was our points against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham that kept us up last season. 

Can anybody refute that?

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Very interesting post!

 

My thoughts are these; theories about previous league performances do not directly correlate in any way to what can be achieved going forward. The game is largely in the minds of the players and right now they are in transition following an unsettling period of managerial change.

 

For the past 3 years Norwich went into most, if not all games believing they could not merely ‘get something from the game’, but go and win it and collect 3 points in the process.

 

It’s not like that anymore – listen to the new managers words and it is apparent his focus is largely on the collective strengths of the opposition. Too much respect methinks? It would take a miracle for our players to hear that and play to win. That kind of thinking relates to ‘seeking not to lose’ as opposed to ‘seeking to win’ – which is a completely different mind-set. As an example of ‘seeking to win’ look no further than our gold medal winners at the London 2012 Olympics.

 

Just like last season we need Morison scoring against Arsenal – and Benno smacking a superb ball against Spurs – but that will only happen when those players believe they can.

 

Performance in the ‘here & now’ has nothing to do with statistics or anything that has occurred before as ‘the past does not equal the future’. To his credit, our previous manager was a great exponent of this principle. As LDC points out, our results against some of the ''big boys'' made a huge contribution last season.

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That is an awesome post Baker. I''m pretty sure your stats will bear scrutiny for the remainder of this season. Of course we still have to get enough points against "the rest" but it''s an interesting angle to view our fixtures.

 

The bad start against "the rest" will test our manager. But when you look at last season those early games included Wigan away which we drew and although we did pick up most of our points against "the rest" we failed to beat either Wigan or Blackburn (home or away).

 

I was concerned that Hughton was too cautious in pre-season but having heard him speak and the evidence of his selections don''t support that. I also think paying too much respect to the opposition is also a myth having compared his pre-match interviews with Lambert''s. Perhaps nobody could understand Lambert so they made up his words!

 

It''s far too early to panic as your terrific post points out. Thanks for posting and more of the same please[:)]

 

 

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[quote user="lake district canary"]I agree with the op up to a point - and of course it is important to have a good record against "the rest".    However, and its a big however, it could be argued that it was our points against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham that kept us up last season. 

Can anybody refute that?

[/quote]Nobody can refute it.  Likewise, nobody can prove it.  A point is a point regardless of whether it''s Man City or QPR.  Those points you reference above (6, from memory?) were as valuable as any other, though possibly more welcome and certainly more memorable for the quality of the opposition.

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so when we go to Judas''s Villa bottom of the table with a -35 goal difference, no confidence and get turned over again will you still be optimistic? Last season is history, and we should have beaten both QPR and West ham, its about time people stopped going on about last season and realise that Hughton is clueless and needs to go!!!

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[quote user="baldyboy"]so when we go to Judas''s Villa bottom of the table with a -35 goal difference, no confidence and get turned over again will you still be optimistic? Last season is history, and we should have beaten both QPR and West ham, its about time people stopped going on about last season and realise that Hughton is clueless and needs to go!!!
[/quote]

Bluddy hell you''re every where! I thought you''d just compared last season with this on another thread. Calm down buddy or you''ll rupture something....

 

[;)]

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Well researched and really interesting. There is, however, one small flaw. Our "Second Season syndrome actually started last Chistmas as we begun to get found out. Lambert''s no mug. He could see that no realistic amount of money was going to save our bacon this year. My biggest worry remains that everyone says what a great track record Chris Hughton has. He''s never been in THIS position before and he''s nevr been undrr pressure as a manager before. Newcastle - he was oblivious to the fact that the chop was coming, until it did. Birmingham - No expectations there so no pressure.

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Actually our poor run of form at the end of last season began

with the home defeat to Man U and corresponded to a run of 8 games vs “The Best”

and 5 vs “the Rest”. In those 8 games against “the Best” we won one and drew

two for 5 points for an average of 0.625 per game. Our record in the 5 games

against “The Rest” was two wins one draw and two defeats for an average of 1.4

points per game. Both stats are below our season average but only just. This

would extrapolate to 39 points on the season which would still have been enough

to keep us up.

 

There’s no doubt however that our form did drop a bit after

January last year and statistically it corresponds to Howson’s inclusion in the

team. He has now played 18 games for us and has a record of 3 wins, 5 draws and

10 defeats which means we have secured 14 points from a possible 54 (0.26points

per game) I think he is a good player but he probably shouldn’t be an automatic

starter based on these stats. He has never been dropped for a league game. Obviously

one player is not responsible for the performance of the team but he can make a

difference, especially if he plays in the centre of midfield. I think confidence

could become an issue with him especially as he is a young guy playing in his

first few games in the Premiership.

 

 Of note the

only two regular players to have a positive playing record last year were

Hoolahan and Jackson.

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I keep a spreadsheet that I update every game. I live in

Canada so can’t make many games.

By the way I made an error in Howson’s stats; we have 14

points in 18 games that he has played which is 0.8 points a game.  And having read the post again it sounds like

I am calling him out but I really think he will be a very important player for

us in the future and think we should use him more sparingly. I would play our

older more experienced players against the better teams and let him make an

impact playing against the lower teams. But I’m not a coach.

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Lambert used 6 different midfield pairings and used a five

man D twice in the 18 games.  By far the

most frequent middle pairing was Johnson and Fox (GP 7 W 0 D 3 L 4 GF- 4 GA- 11).

Arguably the most successful pairing was Fox and Hoolahan in the diamond (GP 3

W 1 D 1 L 1 GF- 5 GA-5). The others didn’t play together more than twice. Our

current pairing of Johnson and Howson only played together twice, the 2-1 away

win at Spurs and the 6-1 home defeat by Man City.  

 

So I wouldn’t say there was a standout successful pairing.

Evaluating the systems we used gives a little more insight.

 

In the 16 4 man D games Lambert used 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1 8

times, a diamond four times and a 4-4-2 four times. Of the four games we used

the diamond we won 1 drew 2 and lost 1, scoring 8 (2 per game which is better

than our average for the whole season) but also conceding 8. We played 4-4-2

four times, won one, drew one and lost two. By contrast when we used a 4-4-1-1

or 4-5-1 we only got 3 points (3 draws) from the 8 games, scored only 6 and conceded

17.    Perhaps

it doesn’t pay to try to defend against these teams.

 

On the season we used the diamond 12 times with Hoolahan in

the “hole” and won 4 drew 5 and lost just 3 and had an even goal difference

(18-18).

 

Interesting too that Fox started in 13 of the 18 games

against “the Best” and only 10 of the 20 games against “The Rest” but still

ended up with an even playing record of won 7, drew 9 and lost 7 with an even

goal difference (33-33). That goals against average of 1.43 per game is lower

than our average of 1.74 (despite playing more games against the better teams) so

he doesn’t appear to have been a defensive liability.

 

One stat that shocked me was that Pilkington started on the

right side of midfield 6 times during the season (always with Surman on the

left), in a variety of formations, and in those games we won 3 drew 2 and lost

only one,  the 2-1 home defeat to Man U

which we were unlucky to lose.

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Good stats Baker thank you.The final one confirms what some of us already knew, that the absence of Pilks in the last few games has probably cost us more than any other single factor including the loss of Bassong (and the appointment of Hughton) [;)].....

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One of the best posts here in ages

Have you considered writing to the club with your findings? I''m sure they could make some space in the match day programme for your findings, I know I''d read it

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Never mind the programme, Jez, he should send that last post directly to Hughton, might give him a few tactical hints!

Interesting reading Baker.

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Good posts Baker.   One small thing though, do your studies show how the formations changed during a match,   as  some matches would have changed outcomes owing to tactical alterations by the manager - ie a switch from 451 say to 442, or the diamond to 442?  Quite a few  results were achieved as a result of tactics/personell changes because a match was going against us.    So a match that may have started 451 may not have been the cause of a result - in fact maybe the opposite - a result only being got because of a switch to 442 or whatever.        

Interesting stat about Pilkington on the right. 

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