Does the Europa League hurt Premier League clubs?

Ah, the Europa League: bimonthly trips to the freezing climes of Eastern Europe, small midweek crowds at home, meager prize money, the chance to sell a third jersey… these are the trappings of UEFA’s second-class continental competition. Fans of English clubs love their European nights, but the endless rounds of the Europa League can take their toll on squads already stretched by two domestic cups. Is it worth all the trouble? I decided to do a simple exercise to find out. I looked at Premier League standings going back to the 1999-2000 season, which was the first one in which…
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How likely is a second yellow?

Recently I read a short blog post by Stephen Kattner about yellow cards. He used a quick calculation to estimate that players in Europe who were carrying yellow cards were 14 times more likely to be sent off than players who weren’t. It turns out the calculation of this statistic is rather more complex, so I asked my colleague Jimmy Coverdale for some data and began crunching the numbers. There were 1,193 first yellows cards issued in the English Premier League during the 2012-13 season. With 380 games, that’s an average of about 3.1 first yellows per game. Overall, the…
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Can the past predict the future in football?

“Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” This seemingly obvious statement is a mantra in the world of finance, yet it doesn’t seem to have filtered into professional soccer. Today the analytics community shares some of the blame for the omission – hopefully not for long. Before virtually every game, soccer commentators faithfully recite teams’ head-to-head records as though they could somehow sway the day’s events: “This [insert name of town] derby is finely balanced, with exactly 126 wins for each team and 126 draws in the past 189 years” or “Manchester United haven’t lost to [insert name of…
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