If you are a fan of the British Premier League, do all those passes matter? Does it matter which team controls the game, especially when scores are often won on a single goal? In this analysis, we focus on the role of possession. 

Conventional wisdom suggests that maintaining control of the ball, quantified as possession percentage, should correlate with a team’s success in a match. However, the results challenge this notion when applying logistic regression to model match outcomes in the Premier League based on home-team and away-team possession.

The model’s accuracy stood at a modest 45.1%, a figure that hints at the unpredictable nature of football, where possession is just one piece of the larger puzzle. Football, especially at the level of the Premier League, is a game where moments of brilliance, tactical ingenuity, and sometimes luck can turn the tide in ways that possession stats alone cannot predict.

Interpreting the Data

The confusion matrix and classification report further illuminate the complex relationship between possession and winning. With a strong bias towards predicting home wins, the model significantly underperformed in accurately predicting draws and away wins. This bias underscores the advantage of playing at home and highlights the limitations of using possession as the sole predictor of match outcomes.

– The model failed to predict any draws correctly, indicating that evenly matched games in terms of possession do not necessarily translate to an even scoreboard.

– While the model favored home teams, accurately predicting 327 home wins, it struggled with away wins, accurately predicting only 50

The Path Forward

The findings suggest that factors beyond possession play critical roles in determining Premier League match outcomes. The quest to understand and predict match outcomes continues for analysts and teams alike. Incorporating a broader array of data, including advanced metrics such as expected goals (xG), player performance indices, and even psychological factors, may provide a more nuanced understanding of what it takes to win in the Premier League.

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Premier League Stats,

Last Update: February 20, 2024