Analysing possession: League 2 2010/11
The rain’s finally stopped, but there’s just time for one more post before I venture outside for supplies and fresh air. Following on from my earlier analysis of shots, I thought I’d take a quick look at possession. The graph below orders this season’s League 2 teams by their overall share of possession, breaking out home and away shares separately by their deviation from 50% (e.g. Southend averaged 51.7% at home and 52.5% away):
So what does this actually tell us?
- As for shots taken, there’s a broad correlation between share of possession and league performance, but again there are some interesting outliers.
- Unsurprisingly, the majority of teams will see a lot more of the ball at home – only Southend and Bury were exceptions to this rule.
- Southend keep the ball better than any other side in the league and play a possession game regardless of whether they’re home or away.
- While Port Vale and Oxford are brilliant at controlling possession on their own turf, fans following them to away games will see a very different style of play.
- Three of the teams which qualified for the play-offs, Shrewsbury, Accrington and Torquay, achieved this without relying on ball retention. However the eventual play-off winners Stevenage were significantly more adept at keeping possession – I wonder if there’s a lesson here. Interestingly the 3 teams that failed were often praised for positive, passing football while Boro’s more direct style was heavily criticised. Then again, the data I’m using could just be rubbish!
- Lincoln, Stockport and Cheltenham enjoyed significantly less possession than other teams, with the latter two spending a depressing amount of time chasing after the ball in away games (interestingly Cheltenham’s away record was pretty respectable in spite of this).
I appreciate that the above graph can be a bit hard to read, so here’s a more legible one that just shows overall share of possession. Note that the order is still the same, but now the two separate bars for each team have been combined: