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An Early Look at Carvalhal vs. Clement

In this article I take a very early look at what the data says regarding the differences in approach between Carlos Carvalhal and Paul Clement.
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  1. I haven't written an article for a while; I figured with some down time and a new manager in the fold, now would be as good a time as any to write another one. Today I'm going to be taking a very early statistical look at the differences between the squad under Paul Clement and Carvalhal's sole match in charge against Watford.

    I'll start out, per usual, looking at my favourite "Passing Frequency" and "Pressing" metrics. The Passing Frequency metric measures how many passes a team would have if they were in possession of the ball for a full 90 minute match. The Pressing metric measures how often a team would attempt to win possession if they were defending for the entire 90 minutes.

    Since it has been a while since I've written an article (I've also slightly revised my metrics over time), I'm going to go over each data point that is used in the calculations. If you don't care at all what makes up the metrics, skip the next two paragraphs to get to the final values.

    I define the Passing Frequency metric for each team as the average Total Passes per match divided by the average Possession per match. The Pressing metric is defined as a team's average Attempted Tackles per match, Interceptions per match, and Fouls per match, all divided by the average time out of Possession per match, which is 1 minus the average Possession.

    For Carlos Carvahal's first match in charge, we notched 48.9% possession. We played 520 total passes in our first match under Carvahal. Defensively for Carlos, we attempted 27 tackles, won 11 interceptions, and committed 13 fouls, leading to 51 attempts to win possession. Paul Clement throughout his time this year, averaged 47.5% possession, while we averaged 424.1 total passes per match. Defensively for PC, we averaged 26.2 tackle attempts per match, 10.0 interceptions, and 10.7 fouls, leading to an average 46.9 attempts to win possession per match.

    Let's get to the final calculations for Passing Frequency and Pressing.

    Carlos Carvalhal:
    Passing Frequency: 520/.489 = 1,063.39
    Pressing: 51/.511 = 99.80

    Paul Clement:
    Passing Frequency: 424.1/.475 = 892.84
    Pressing: 46.9/.525 = 89.3

    For a nice comparison, the current league average for the Passing Frequency metric is 897.23 while the average for the Pressing metric is 97.22. For Carvalhal's first match, we clearly moved the ball about with a higher sense of urgency while we also made a concerted effort to try to win the ball back quicker than we had previously under Paul Clement. One more quick note with this; while we moved the ball at a higher tempo, we also ended with a better passing accuracy than our average under Clement. We notched an 83% passing accuracy against Watford under Carlos with Clement's average sitting at 79%.

    Let's take a look at how these tactical differences influenced some of the result-based data points. One of the worst areas for us so far this year has been our shot taking. Our current average for total shots and shots on target (includes both Carvalhal AND Clement), is 8.6 total shots per match, and 2.2 shots on target. For comparison, the Premier League average is 12.4 total shots per match and 4.1 on target shots. Now let's isolate Carlos Carvalhal's results against Watford from Paul Clement's averages this year. Against Watford, we ended with 9 shots, 4 being on target. Clement, on the other hand, averaged 8.6 total shots, with 2.1 on target shots per match. It seems there was a very slight uptick in shots, while our on target shots almost doubled.

    Finally, I'll take a look at one more area. I like to look at the "Action Zones", which are broken down into our Own Third, the Middle Third, and our Opponent's Third. For the only match under Carvalhal, 26% of the match was played in our own third, 53% of the match took place in the middle third, while 20% of the match occurred in our opponent's third. Under Clement, meanwhile, we averaged 29% in our own third, 46% in the middle third, with 24% happening in our opponent's third. So, we played 3 percentage points less in our defensive third, but we also played 4 percentage points less in our opponent's third.

    Carvalhal against Watford (our defensive third on the far right):


    Our season averages thus far:


    This is one of the main areas I would like to see Carvalhal improve. I would like to see us playing much less of each match defending in our own defensive third while slowly passing the ball about the back line while I would like to see more of us using short, fast-paced passing to quickly move the ball up the pitch to put the opposition under pressure. I'm hopeful if we can continue to see the squad take to Carvalhal's tactics, we'll see a continuation of the more urgent passing and higher pressure pressing and we'll start to put more pressure on the opposition goal.

    One thing should obviously be noted; this was only one match against a relatively poor Watford, where we really only looked to create problems for Gomes during the last 15 or so minutes of the match. But then again, this was just his first match with only a few training sessions to get his points across.

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