An early Saturday kick-off away at Newcastle is an early opportunity to exorcise the harsh ghosts of the Derby defeat; but what has Man City's away form been like so far in 2012/13?
Man City's away form, in 2011/12, was almost the straw that broke the talented camel's back when we think of the nearly derailed title triumph. Man City were a revelation at home last year, but all that good work was nearly in vain due to poor away form and more specifically this mid-season slump:
Great early start to our away form last year, and a title-winning upswing in away form late on. Thanks for that Carlos.
But there was an 8 game spell in-between the hot start and resuscitating finish where Man City were not very good, in fact they recorded just 8 points in 9 games. But why am I telling you all this?
Man City won the title last year on the back of brilliant, but, unsustainable home for. Home form, in terms of ppg, that was never going to be replicated this year. If home form cannot be as strong in 2012/13, and it can't be after the derby defeat, then we need to see a better Man City away team this year in order to have a good chance of retaining our Premier League crown.
So, how can our away form be improved and what areas of this seasons away form show signs of strength or weaknesses?
Man City Away Form In 2012/13
Here is Man City's away points per game along with away quality of opposition:
Man City's QoO doesn't tell us too much this early in the season and when we only have 7 data points. Man City's away ppg has been hovering between 1.6 and 2 ppg for five games now. 1.85 points per game would see Man City gain more away points, if replicated until the end of the season, than we earned last term, but only by a solitary point. And that probably won't be a good enough level of improvement to make up for the home form shortfall in points.
Man City's away schedule QoO number is 8th hardest in the league.
Liverpool 2-2 Man City
Stoke 1-1 Man City
Fulham 1-2 Man City
West Brom 1-2 Man City
West Ham 0-0 Man City
Chelsea 0-0 Man City
Wigan 0-2 Man City
3 wins and 4 draws is not horrendous away form. It's just we need to turn draws into wins, although there is no shame in drawing at Liverpool, Chelsea or Stoke.
Possession doesn't mean a great deal, but it tells us that Man City are a consistently excellent possession team who use possession of the ball in an attempt to control the game.
60.13% is the best number in the league.
City are a dominant shots team with a ratio of 65.13%. Shots ain't much if you're not getting them on target.
Shots on Target
We can see the great yawning gap between Man City's shots on target for and against, +4 shots on target +/- per game. The shots for column is the joint best in the league, and the shots against is easily the best away number in the league.
What the above graph tells us is that Man City are a very strong away team in terms of shots on target.
By my rough calculations Man City should of scored, if scoring %'s were the same for every team, 12 goals away from home instead of 9. Man City should of conceded, if save %'s were the same for every team, 4 goals instead of the 5 that they have conceded.
So, Man City the excellent shots on target team, would have been 4 goals better off away from home is the scoring and save percentages were equal throughout the league. How many more points would those four extra goals have brought? Who cares, as it is all hyperthetical. Man City's away save and scoring percentages have been costing them.
Man City are a below average team at converting their shots on goal into actual goals. Do we believe Man City, with their forward and creative players, are actually a below par scoring team? Probably not.
So it is here that we see why Man City, despite 6 shots on target per game, are not scoring enough goals to win those games. A poor scoring % is wiping out all the good work that City put in to get shots on target.
Expect that low 21.4% number to regress and regress in a good way. And soon.
Man City have conceded 5 goals this year, all in the first four away games. City have kept 3 clean sheets in the last three games and this is why we are seeing Man City's scoring % climbing.
Again, are Man City a below average team in preventing the opposition from converting their shots on target into goals? I would be on the side of saying no, Man City are not a below average team in this category. Man City may be a prime candidate for regression again, albeit with less room to positively regress in terms of save % than they have in scoring %.
Pdo is scoring% and save% added together. Away pdo average is 97.71%
Man City are a full 12 percentage points below the average PL team in terms of scoring and preventing goals in terms of scoring and save %. City's 85.71 number ranks 18th for away teams, ahead of only Wigan and Aston Villa.
City are 18th in the league in away pdo, but probably will positively regress and heavily so as the season goes on. If we take that regression and add it to the fact that Man City are easily the best shot on target +/- team in the country, we can expect Man City to start scoring a lot more goals away from home and concede slightly less, so long as those shots on target totals hold up.
More goals scored and less goals conceded adds up to more points, or so we assume.
Shots on Target Ratio
Again a quick reminder here of just how far Man City are controlling the shots on target count in the fixtures that they have played away from home. Man City's SoTR ratio number is 19 percentage points better than 2nd place Everton who have a Sotr of 57.19%.
Man City have 12 points from 7 away games so far. This a number that will need to improve if Man City are to successfully defend their PL crown. The first way to go about improving their away from ppg will be to improve on just the 9 goals scored in 7 away games.
As we have seen, Man City control enough of the football in their away games, they control over 3/4 of the shots on target in their away games and are solely being let down by low scoring and save%'s. As we know that those percentages are liable to the influence of luck and regression to the mean, it doesn't require too much imagination to say that Man City will, at some point, if the shots count stays consistently high, begin to score more goals and gain more points.
On area of great concern is this:
|First goal scored||Time spent winning|
Although, we're not spending too much time in a losing position either:
|Time spent drawing||Time spent losing|
|493 mins||103 mins|
These numbers may lead us to think about the influence of score effects (the opposition sit back and accept the point, or lead in a game, thus not taking many shots and allowing Man City to dominate the possession and shot count).
All told, there is not a whole lot Man City are doing wrong in their away games. We are dominating every stat count but are being let down in two important areas, save% and scoring%.
I would say hold steady, keep on doing what you are doing and the goals and results will come. But for Gods sake, score the first goal of the game. Let's put ourselves in a position to dominate the games even more than we have already been doing.
Man City will need to take more away points this year than they did last year in order to retain their Premier League crown. The underlying numbers look promising so far. We just need the luck element to catch up with the skill element of City's play and we could see much improved away form in comparison to 2011/12's 34 points.
Thanks for reading.