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Comparing English Premier League Goalkeepers: Identifying the Pitch Actions that Differentiate the Best from the Rest


  • Oberstone Joel

    (University of San Francisco)


The Opta Index is a prestigious performance measure used to assess English Premier League (EPL) football players. Although the Opta model is proprietary, the general structure uses a multiattribute collection of subjectively weighted pitch measures that either rewards or penalizes a player with a potential range of points based on the quality of his game performance. In addition, the specific set of measures used depends upon player position: forwards, midfielders, defenders, and goalkeepers each have their own unique set of measures even though there might be some overlap. Although the player's Opta Index is calculated for each game, it is the cumulative "grade card"the final Opta Index calculated at the end of the thirty-eight game EPL season in Maythat is of particular importance. The index, along with the large array of player pitch data, is commercially distributed to the EPL clubs and appears in a wide variety of television and print media outlets. This paper proposes an alternative to using the full set of Opta data by identifying those specific pitch actions that form a statistically significant retrodictive linear regression model for the 2007-2008 EPL season. Additionally, the importance of evaluating pitch actions historically assumed to be clearly pertinent measuressuch as goals allowed per game for the goalkeeperwill be not only be appraised from a statistical viewpoint, but also from a practical perspective.

Suggested Citation

  • Oberstone Joel, 2010. "Comparing English Premier League Goalkeepers: Identifying the Pitch Actions that Differentiate the Best from the Rest," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-19, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jqsprt:v:6:y:2010:i:1:n:9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tunaru, Radu & Clark, Ephraim & Viney, Howard, 2005. "An option pricing framework for valuation of football players," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3-4), pages 281-295.
    2. Ian McHale & Phil Scarf, 2007. "Modelling soccer matches using bivariate discrete distributions with general dependence structure," Statistica Neerlandica, Netherlands Society for Statistics and Operations Research, vol. 61(4), pages 432-445.
    3. Oberstone Joel, 2009. "Differentiating the Top English Premier League Football Clubs from the Rest of the Pack: Identifying the Keys to Success," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 5(3), pages 1-29, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gelade Garry, 2014. "Evaluating the ability of goalkeepers in English Premier League football," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-8, June.

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