How many times have we all watched a sports match be it Football, Basketball, Golf, and surveying the statistics you can usually put your finger on where the winning team has held the advantage, Basketball matches are usually determined on the highest field goal percentage, In Golf accuracy usually leads to success GIR and FIR (Greens and Fairways in regulation) are very important.

Between myself and some friends the phrase “There’s only one stat that counts, and that’s the one in the top left of the screen!” has become somewhat of a joke statement, somewhat of a put down when trying to defend the losing team. Jose Mourinho’s Inter only had 41% possession in their 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich in this year’s Champions League final, Louis van Gaal would have surely swapped the result for the majority of possession; For Inter the 2 goals scored was the only stat that mattered.

Football analysts are obsessed with stats, goals per game ratio, minutes without a goal, possession, shots on target, these all go someway to explain the story of a match, however sometimes no matter how many stats are consulted, they just don’t mirror what has occurred.

Team A and Team B played a match this weekend, one of the teams was on the end of a 4-0 defeat, with such a margin of victory, the stats must surely show the dominance of the winning team.

Both teams were very successful with their passing, Team A attempted 369 passes, only 58 of those did not reach their target, that’s an impressive 84% accuracy, compared to Team B with a similar 47 passes not reaching the intended player however they only attempted 277, that’s equates to 79% on target still a very accurate amount but 5% less than Team A.

Taking 3 players from each team you can see how well Team A passed the ball, their Centre Back did not put a pass out of place, all 42 passes were successful, further up the field their Central Midfielder tried 30 passes, only 2 of them were wayward, and the Striker playing up top, a position that can sometimes become isolated and hard to link up with the rest of the team well he made 11 successful passes, only 1 wasn’t. A very good passing display.

Team B’s individual passing does not look as impressive, the Centre Back only attempted 12 passes, the Central Midfielder only failed to find his man on 5 occasions, and upfront it was a poor day for the forward, nearly half of the passes he attempted failed to link up with anyone, only 10 out of 18 were on target.

With the game giving both teams time and space on the ball, two more areas need to be studied to find where the 4 goal difference was created, defensively the losing team must have been very weak, Team A won 39 tackles and lost 21, compared to Team B who only won 26 tackles but losing 25, Team A also did a very good job of closing the ball down making 14 interceptions, Team B only intercepted 8 balls.

The final stats to look over to determine the result of the game is the “shooting” no matter how good or bad you play or how good your tactics are, the result more often than not comes down to shooting accuracy.

Team A had 12 shots in the match, 5 on target, 4 off target and 3 shots were blocked, Team B on the other hand had 10 shots, 6 on target, 3 off target and had one blocked.

So what team scored the four goals, surely it was Team A with the higher amount of passes, better individual passing, more tackles won, and of course more shots on goal……eh no, if you hadn’t guessed already the game being analysed was the Premier League clash between Wigan and Blackpool in all the stats above Blackpool are Team B, four of those shots on target hit the back of the net.

One analysis you can make from the team passing image, Wigan (Team A) struggle to connect with passes in the final third, there is very little blue in and around the box, whereas Blackpool have slightly more blue than red in the final third, there is nothing wrong with passing the ball around the back or in the middle, however to win footbal matches you need to provided the final product, something Wigan just didn’t do on Saturday.

This is a fantastic example of how stats can sometimes be misleading, Blackpool won this game for a number of reason, they had a willingness and a desire to work hard and would not be beaten, some clubs would be scared on their first game at the top level for over 40 years, not Blackpool they ran every ball down, threw caution to the wind, and basically just had a go, now they were helped by some very poor Wigan defending and the fourth goal was an absolute howler from Chris Kirkland, in these footballing times, you do not need to tick all the boxes when it comes to dominating the play, stats cannot measure heart and a never say die attitude.

The stats never lie, but sometimes they are just wrong!

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First of all Well Done to Egypt winning their 3rd African Nations title in a row, also their 7th overall, as I’ve said here before, everyone had written them off as potential winners, but they have proved everyone wrong, a great victory and the people of Egypt will be partying for a while, until the hangover hits and they realise they are still not in the World Cup in South Africa.

However that was not the point of this blog, yes the Egyptians will be partying into the night, the tournament however has come to what can only be described as a sour end, after the shocking scenes in Cabinda with the Togo team being attacked and people dying, they made the decision to leave the tournament, as they felt they weren’t mentally right to play, the emotions summed up by Adebayor conducting an interview in an Arsenal training top, a bit of a gaff, I’m sure at the time he couldn’t have cared less what top he had on, after having to carry one of his shot teammates to hospital.

The tournament went on without them, an everything had sort of moved on, we had some great football, great goals, and everyone was looking forward to a great final……until this happened.

A statement from the Confederation of African football (Caf) on Saturday confirmed the disciplinary action, saying: “The executive committee has banned Togo from the next two African Nations Cup and fined the Togo FA 50,000 US dollars.”

The Caf statement stressed the ban and fine were not intended to punish Togo’s players but their government for withdrawing the team from the tournament after the shootings.

“The players publicly expressed their willingness to return to the Nations Cup to compete. But the Togo government decided to call back their national team,” Caf explained in its statement.

“The decision by political authorities contravenes Caf and African Nations Cup regulations.”

So having your bus shot at, 2 people dying in front of you, teammates shot, apparently isn’t enough punishment, now you can’t play in an African Nations Cup till 2016.

What an absolute disgrace, the person that has made this decision needs to resign ammediately, there is no place for peope like that to be in charge of  a football federation, If the CAF had come out and said that Togo could automatically qualify for the Cup in 2012 noone would have batted an eyelid, it was a tragedy what happened to the team, there is no need to make it any worse for them, 6 years is a long time in football, this decision ends the chance for alot of the current Togo team to every play again in the tournament.

I hope following the outcry this decision has cause the CAF take a good look at themselves and retract all the sanctions they have placed on Togo, wipe the slate clean, and try again. Who would have thought the CAF could have made Sepp Blatter look like a genius. Commonsense should prevail here, I am not convinced it will though.

I wonder if the same thing happened to Brazil or England during the World Cup would the same punishment be followed, I very much doubt it.

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