Only six matches remain in the 2011/12 Eredivisie and the title race is closer than ever. No less than six teams are still in contention for the title, being separated by only four points. At the bottom of the table, VVV has made an impressive come-back, to seriously threaten ADO and NAC for survival.
With the league entering its final stages, this post will dive into the summarized offensive and defensive performances, looking to identify which teams have both their offensive and defensive performances in order for the most important matches of the year.
Let’s first look at the offensive performances. The graphs below depicts the teams according to the amount of shots created per game and the conversion rate of those shots. The ‘shooting star-like’ appearance comes from the fact that the performances over the first half of the season (17 matches) have been separated from the performances in matches after the winter break. Hover over the start- and end-points of the lines to find out the actual values for different teams. Links to high resolution downloads can be found here for the offensive graph and here for the defensive graph.
The upper right hand corner is the area where teams with both a high number of shots and a high conversion rate will be found. It is clear that Ajax has had the best offense at present, while their short line indicates a constant performance over the season. Twente’s offense also comes in quite good, with less shots than Ajax, but a superior conversion rate.
To round off the title pretenders, Heerenveen also shows a constant performances and a high conversion rate with an above average number of shots, while Feyenoord have made an interesting shift across the map. Their first half of the season seemed to depend on shot creation, while the second half is focused on conversion. The fact the they moved in a practically diagonal direction indicates that the decline in number of shots was compensated by an improved conversion and vice versa.
PSV moves in an alarming direction, with a decrease in both number of shots and conversion, while AZ loses half a shot per game and 3% conversion.
Other remarkable shifts are to be seen at VVV, where Ton Lokhoff took over during the winter break. VVV has produced over 3 shots per game more, with a comparable conversion. An even sharper decline than at PSV is shown by Groningen, who’ve shown a dramatic decrease in both shots and conversion, to find themselves among the relegation candidates in offensive terms.
A final mention goes out to Vitesse. The only foreign owned team in Holland slipped up in terms of conversion, losing 4% there, but completely made up for it in terms of shot creation, moving from 12.3 to 17.5 per game.
The same graph can be created for defensive performances, this time showing the amount of shots conceded and the conversion rate allowed. In this graph, the lower left hand corner shows the best defense, while the upper right hand corner indicates serious defensive problems.
The eye-catching outlier here is PSV, whose dramatic conversion rate allowed of 0.196 reflects their performances in the games against Twente (2-6 loss at home with 8 shots conceded) and NAC (3-1 loss away with 7 shots conceded). Despite conceding the third lowest number of shots, this extreme conversion rate ranks their defensive performance over the second half of the season among relegation favorite Excelsior and out-of-form Groningen.
Remarkably, one of the best defensive performances has been turned in by promoted team RKC, who combine an excellent amount of shots allowed per game with a superbly low conversion rate allowed. Given their mediocre offensive record, this stunning improve in defense has been the base for their rise from 13th at the winter break to a solid ninth place with six matches to go.
Jan Wouters’ effect on Utrecht, where he took over in October, is shown with a significant improve in defense, coming at the price of a slightly decreased offensive performance. Most relegation threatened teams have improved their defensive record, with less shots conceded per game and less conversion allowed for all three of ADO, VVV and Excelsior. However, at De Graafschap the number of shots allowed has gone up.
In our half-season review, looking at the same parameters, we’ve mentioned N.E.C. as a team to watch for the second half of the season, and Alex Pastoor’s team hasn’t failed to live up to these expectations. N.E.C. has developed the best defense over the past eleven Eredivisie matches.
The title contenders
With only six matches to go, more value may be attributed to the performances in the past eleven matches than to the performances in first half of the season. Combining offensive and defensive performances should lead to the conclusion that Ajax seems the hot favorite to win the Eredivisie title. Heerenveen surges recently due to their improvement in the number of shots conceded. Twente is slowly slipping up in defensive terms, while Feyenoord have moved in the opposite direction. Both teams’ offensive performance seems quite constant.
PSV moves in the wrong direction both in offensive and defensive terms making their title bid more dependent on their excellent first half of the season than on their present form. Finally AZ, until recently the league leaders, but by now trailing Ajax by a point. Their offensive efficiency has let them down recently, while their defense remains on par with title rivals Ajax, AZ and Feyenoord.
This post has been created with data provided by Infostrada Sports and it has been inspired by the work of Ben Mayhew at the excellent experimental 3-6-1 website, follow him at Twitter @experimental361.