April 24, 2012

Do PK decisions in the EPL even out? Fergie thinks so, but the data disagrees.

Are Premier League referees getting worse? It sure seems that way when I watch games.  And despite the opinion of Sir Alex Ferguson, the decisions do not even out.

What makes it even tougher is when the players dive all over the place with no intent other than to con the referee.  Is anyone with me on starting a campaign for retroactive suspensions for diving?  That would stop all of the diving immediately!  Guaranteed!

Ashley Young has been near criminal in two recent matches.  He’s even been mentioned for a position on Great Britain's Olympic diving team.  Refer to the video of Man U vs. Villa and Man U vs. QPR for some of the finest acting in years.  He really ought to be ashamed of himself.

But it’s not only the PKs that are called; it’s those that are not called as well.  Refer to the highlights, if you can find them, of the Man U vs. Fulham game on 26 March 2012.  The game was at Old Trafford, it was late in the game, there was a CLEAR penalty against Man U and, of course, it wasn’t called.

I’m not saying there’s a bias towards the “bigger clubs”, but looking at penalty kick data sure leans me in that direction.  All you need to do is filter the viz below to only include teams that finished 1-4 and you’ll see what I mean.

The top four teams get way more PKs called in their favor than the rest of the clubs AND they significantly more PKs called at home.  I simply can’t believe that referees are NOT intimidated by Fergie and Old Trafford?

Click on the Manchester United logo to focus on them.  Look at those startling trends that appear at the bottom.  Intimidation at its finest!

If you want to see the details behind the charts, go to the Team PK Stats tab. 
  • Look at how many PKs the top four teams have gotten over the year, both overall and at home
  • Now compare that to the relegated teams (18-20)
Maybe it’s because the top teams have the ball more and create more situations where a PK could be called. But still, should the numbers be so overwhelming?