Hello again, dearest, beloved querido reader. Remember a few months ago this steamy post where I used the second person to include you in on some scintillating writing about root-and-branch analyses? English clubs were stinking up the Champions League, so you and I, hands firmly clasped, strolled about and ruminated (hint hint) as to why that was. We embraced, our breaths so close as to become one, and concluded the problem was the root which needed to be changed.
Now, I’m happy to say, I’m back for sloppy seconds. Why? Because a new soccer analytic has totally gotten the soccer world all steamy: “team touch zones.”
And you thought heatmaps were hot. I’ve never met Garry Gelade or seem him at one of those annual erotica writers conferences at the downtown Holiday Inn in Peoria, Iowa, but the man clearly knows about what makes a human being tick. For a time, we stats soccer nerds and stats-nerds-curious types all got off on heatmaps and seeing how certain players lasted longer in the key erogenous zones of the field (if you get my drift). For every idiot that complained Mesut Ozil was a languid and flaccid man incapable of serious penetration, we could point to a horizontal image with lots of big, dark red blots to prove said idiot wrong (surreptitious wink).
Still, as a fickle millenial with the attention span of an ADHD-afflicted gnat, you and I grew bored of heatmaps. We kinda cooled off on them. Then the analytics dudes, normally snappy dressers with carefully maintained hair and neatly ironed sweaters judging by their twitter profile pics, got away from what makes their writing so erotic: the numbers, not the weird terms and subcategories for their statistical analysis. We were all “how did this thing once so hot become so not????” We were crestfallen. Our RSS readers felt so empty. Luckily, Mr. Gelade has righted the universe.
I know what you’re thinking. You are suspicious. You read the term “team touch zone” and imagine some freakish post-game communal shower where the guys are a bit too tipsy and LGBT curious but no, NO, this not some porny-type thing. No male gayze allowed! This is hot hot analysis. “Team touch zone” is the very tip of the analytics body of knowledge. There is some stroking, but the key things are: measurements. Numbers. Touches. In fact, Gelade has actual maps sorted by EPL teams of where players touch balls with more frequency than on average. What counts as a touch of a ball? It’s not explained.
But then again, isn’t the mystery, that damned & frustrating uncertainty, what gives us the biggest thrill? The small red ball in the center of the Aston Villa map is probably where Cleverley overhits his ill-advised first time passes to defender teammates, but but…but….but…..maybe, just maybe, something more caliente is at work. Perhaps it’s where Benteke comes to drop and ask for the ball before turning, seeing no other teammates are in the attacking half, and spiritually giving up on existence.
Other conclusions of eroticality are: (1) Spurs prefer to team touch up and down the middle, while (2) Southampton, perhaps due to lofts of south paws on the roster, prefers to stroke things down the left. (3) Everton, as expected, team touches sideways from both left to right and right to left. They rarely team touch from top to bottom, too shy to probe for any serious stroking penetration. Can Martinez improve the attacking thrust and lubricate the tip of the attack by acquiring a big member this offseason? We can only hope. And maybe he’ll sign a good attacking soccer player as well.
I could go on, but I’m already spent. I’m going to take a nap but come back in about, say, 15 minutes, and we’ll give it another go. Til then, may all your “Team Touch Zone” dreams come true.