Wednesday Nerd Fun: Futbol Data

The intersection of sports and social science has been an increasingly interesting place, with books like Soccernomics applying research tools to understand sporting success. Now you can try your hand at this type of analysis, thanks to Manchester City’s release of data from every Premier League game last season. (Clubs keep data on performance from Under-9 teams all the way up to the Premier League). According to the club’s head performance analyst Gavin Fleig, in an interview with The Guardian:

Bill James kick-started the analytics revolution in baseball. That made a real difference and has become integrated in that sport. Somewhere in the world there is football’s Bill James, who has all the skills and wants to use them but hasn’t got the data. We want to help find that Bill James, not necessarily for Manchester City but for the benefit of analytics in football. I don’t want to be at another analytics conference in five years’ time talking to people who would love to analyse the data but cannot develop their own concepts because all the data is not publicly available.

The Guardian‘s excellent DataBlog also did some preliminary analysis of the data, resulting in visualizations like the one above. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, and I would welcome submissions of or links to better visualizations or analyses. You can download the data directly from Manchester City here.