Keeping with my series using Opta data from the 2011/2012 EPL season, let’s look at what formations were the most successful, ranking them by goal differential per game.
Goal +/- By Formation
**1.00 would mean that a team scored an average of one goal more then the opponent per game.
Users of the 41212 formation, also known as the 4-4-2 ‘diamond’ outscored their opponents by a half a goal a game, while users of the 5-3-2 formation were outscored by a full goal per game. Yikes. As Michael Cox often writes about, the use of wingbacks (the outside defenders when there are 3 centre backs in the formation), has not been particularly successful in the EPL.
But wait, worse teams use more defensive tactics, right? So even though teams in defensive formations like 4-5-1 and 4-1-4-1 got outscored, maybe they would of got even more outscored if they hadn’t used those formations!
Well, thanks to the genius of me and my coefficient system, we can look at how at how teams should of done in a game, and rank the formations based on how well they over or under-performed those expectations.
i.e. On Janurary 3rd, Man City (170 CE) beat Liverpool (99.3 CE) 3 goals to none. By my weighted coefficient system, the system decides Man City outperformed expectations by a factor of 1.752 goals.
So here we go!
Weighted Goal +/- By Formation
All of a sudden, 5-4-1 looks great! Meaning although teams using the 5-4-1 formation did get outscored, they performed a heck of a lot better then they we’re supposed to in those games. Ditto for the 4-5-1 and 4-1-4-1.
The 4-2-3-1, oppositely, although used by the better teams and therefore scored a lot of goals, actually seems to be a bit of a detriment to a team’s success.