KDD Papers

“The Leicester City Fairytale?”: Utilizing New Soccer Analytics Tools to Compare Performance in the 15/16 & 16/17 EPL Seasons

Héctor Ruiz (STATS);Paul Power (STATS);Xinyu Wei (STATS);Patrick Lucey (STATS)


The last two years have been somewhat of a rollercoaster for English Premier League (EPL) team Leicester City. In the 2015/16 season, against all odds and logic, they won the league to much fan-fare. Fast-forward nine months later, and they are battling relegation. What could describe this fluctuating form? As soccer is a very complex and strategic game, common statistics (e.g., passes, shots, possession) do not really tell the full story on how a team succeeds and fails. However, using machine learning tools and a plethora of data, it is now possible to obtain some insights into how a team performs. To showcase the utility of these new tools (i.e., expected goal value, expected save value, strategy-plots and passing quality measures), we first analyze the EPL 2015/16 season which a specific emphasis on the champions Leicester City, and then compare it to the current one. Finally, we show how these features can be used to predict future performance.