A strange pattern has emerged in Southampton games this season.
The modern world has become obsessed with statistics. Fans genuinely believe that they can break a game down by purely looking at the data. But like the lyrics to a song, numbers can be interpreted in different ways. The consequence of this is that strange repetitions of play stick out like a sore thumb.
In this case, Athletic writer Dan Sheldon has highlighted an interesting trend that has occurred in 14 of Southampton’s 24 Premier League games this season. Between the 60th and 70th minute, a member of the squad has required attention from the physio.
Sheldon implies there’s something suspicious going on as he explains that while the medics carry out their checks, Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men retreat to the sideline to freshen up with energy drinks and receive further and potentially game-winning tactical instructions. This has happened so regularly that their spectators have begun to notice.
How has this affected Southampton games?
On paper, this pattern has benefited Southampton, who’ve previously gassed out in games. Other teams could smell their vulnerability and used this window as an opportunity to strike. They finished just outside the relegation zone last season and conceded a whopping 68 goals, which was the most in the league.
However, their enhancement in form has allowed them to improve their results drastically. They’re currently in 10th place in the table. But although the data indicates that it’s benefiting Southampton, we can also see how it’s hindering ‘The Saints’.
After the passing of the 60-minute mark, the club have bagged nine goals, but in the same period of time, they’ve had 14 put past them. Therefore, this would suggest that the timing of the medical checks that Sheldon is sceptical of are just a coincidence.
Although it could also be argued that Southampton did indeed have the plan, it hasn’t worked out exactly how they’d have liked. Regardless, there appears to be no benefit in their squad indulging in drinks and gels during these medical intervals.
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