Writing for @StatsBomb, @jair1970 takes Southampton’s excellent start and explores whether it can continue. bit.ly/1pQn7HT. Saint. 22 hours ago

Remember, the deadline for abstracts for the #OptaProForum is 1st December. All the info you need is here: bit.ly/1wXtOOG. Submit. 26 Nov

‘The importance of checking the tape’. @RWhittall’s article for @21stClub on finishing in football. bit.ly/1pQn7HT. Strike. 26 Nov

Another interesting day attending #sportdatanow, plenty of engaging presentations and discussions on data in sport. Future. 25 Nov

We've taken a closer look at assists and it’s featured on the @premierleague website. bit.ly/1pQn7HT. Weighted. 25 Nov

Six days until the #OptaProForum submission deadline. Here’s another chance to watch @colm’s presentation. bit.ly/11OtJR2. Replay. 25 Nov

‘Trio of assist kings have great expectations’. Detailed BPL blog explores beyond conventional assists. bit.ly/1pQn7HT. Create. 25 Nov

FILM: @colm presents 'Please stop applauding diagonal cross-field passes' from the 2014 #OptaProForum. bit.ly/11OtJR2. Spray. 24 Nov

We are presenting at #sportdatanow today. You can find out more about the conference here. bit.ly/1EGtUwE. Berlin. 24 Nov

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Welcome to the OptaPro blog, featuring news and analysis from OptaPro's cutting-edge research team.

BLOG: Columbia University's analytics work with OptaPro

2012 was a watershed year for the publication and distribution of high-quality football analysis. As collated in our own 'Interesting Links' section on this site, there was been a broad and diverse range of analytical writing on many  sports, players, teams and coaches published last year.

The location and background of these authors has varied enormously. However, there is a noticeably active and capable contingent based in North America. Bloggers such as Ravi Ramineni (who as of yesterday has been snapped up by MLS side Seattle Sounders), James Grayson, Steve Fenn and many others have created an outstanding library of work, while others (such as Forbes contributor Zach Slaton and Chris Anderson, professor at Cornell and LSE universities and author) represent the first of a new breed of analysts working outside of the professional clubs and data collection companies. 

OptaPro can contribute further to the trans-Atlantic influence on analytical writing. Since early 2011 student researchers from Columbia University in New York, led by Professor Casey Ichniowski, have been carrying out qualitative analysis of a numerous leagues and seasons of full Opta data in an attempt to further contextualise events that occur within a football match.

Professor Ichniowski ( B.A., Harvard University; M.Sc., M.I.T.; Ph.D., M.I.T.) also holds an NSCAA National Coaching License and an NSCAA Advanced National Coaching License. He was eager to embrace the challenge of transferring his areas of academic expertise into football:

"Working with such extraordinary data on the details of every event in thousands of soccer games that Opta has now been assembling for many years represented both an enormous challenge and a great opportunity for my students and me here at Columbia University.  We have been working on this challenge by applying state-of-the-art quantitative methods to examine this remarkably detailed and accurate soccer data from Opta.  I think it's already safe to say that this work is not simply a matter of reducing the artistry of soccer to a few numbers and statistics, but an exploration of how one might identify interesting and enlightening patterns that make us appreciate the game and its players in new and different ways."

Casey and his team have used a range of statistical methods to analyse the data. The result has been a number of short-form analytical blogs, covering many different aspects of the game including 'Team DNA', scoring possessions and tempo.

We will be publishing these individual blogs on the OptaPro site on a regular basis over the coming weeks and months, and we will invite comment and debate on each. 

Posted by Simon Farrant at 16:32

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