Football Data Analysis: Hull – Endangered Tigers limping around the North East
The North East has had problems in the footballing department for a while. It has not, to be frank, been a plentiful garden of footballing joy in the past few years – more like a forgotten pot plant, wilting in the shadow of its neighbouring section of the country across the Pennines. Newcastle, Middlesbrough, and Sunderland are, have, and should be in the Championship respectively. Poor old Hull, the wannabe Shere Khan of sport, still don’t have a permanent manager.
Their squad is still in such bad shape that they have Jake Livermore – proving to be a decent fill-in but still not an actual player in that position – at centre-back. Six of their seven points were won in their first two games of the season, and since then they’ve steadily slipped down and down the table.
While they have suffered from the fixture list in a similar way to Francesco Guidolin (Hull’s four losses have come against Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Chelsea), it still doesn’t look wholly pretty for them stats-wise.
Their shot difference per game is -14.29, the worst in the league and a fair bit away from the next worst of Sunderland on -9. They’re less of a distance away from the rest of the pack on shots on target difference per game, but they’re still bottom of the league on -4.14. They’ve also been riding some lightly nice conversion rates: 15.24% for their shots and 8.3% for their opponents’ (the averages for both are around 10-11%, and if luck were stripped out you’d expect bad teams to be below these averages, not on the nice side of them).
There are some other numbers that Hull well and truly stand out on too. The league average for percentage of a team’s tackles and interceptions being made in their own defensive third is around 43%. Hull’s figure is 61.97%. The next highest is West Brom on 51.54%. These are mind-boggling levels of deep defending that Hull are up to at the moment. And, like in 90-minute matches where a side is defending with two banks of four inside their 18-yard box, you get the feeling that something’s going to give.
And yet wait, there’s more. ‘Statistical attacks’ and ‘Statistical possessions’ are a way of trying to peel back a team’s performance past shots and key passes. Statistical possessions are measured by things that end a possession – shot, misplaced passes, opposition defensive actions – and attacks are measured by things that end them too, in shots and opponent defensive actions in the final third. They’re not perfect, but they seem a good, and more importantly simple and basic, way of telling more of a story about a team.
The league average for turning these ‘statistical possessions’ into ‘statistical attacks’ is currently a smidgen under 30%. Chelsea actually have the highest figure in the league on 37.37%, although they then struggle to turn these ‘statistical attacks’ into shots. Hull’s percentage is just 19.75%.
This is, by all accounts, a team that defends a lot, defends deeply, struggles to get into their opponents’ territory, can’t stop conceding shots, and can’t start making them. Their stats are so far away in profile from the rest of the league on these measures that it’s almost like they’re playing a different game altogether.
You could make the argument that they’re doing quite well so far, only losing to teams they’d be expecting to lose to, that their bizarre stats have largely come from trying to hunker down a little too much against the bigger teams. It’s a possibility. After the international break, their next three games are against Bournemouth, Stoke, and Watford. By then, we’ll know what Hull are about for sure.
Eastbridge Soccer Betting Broker, bespoke sports betting for the discerning client.