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

BLOG: 12 of the best in 2017

As 2017 reaches its conclusion, we again take a look at some of the most innovative and thought-provoking videos, articles, interviews and podcasts from the past 12 months.

If there are any you feel have been missed and would like to share them, please do so in the Comments section below.


Within analytics, cross-learning from other sports is always a valuable tool and can often bring a fresh perspective to an existing problem. In January, Planet Rugby spoke with George Murray (Munster), Nathan Swarbrick (Doncaster Knights), Elliot Corcoran (Pau), Niall Malone (Ulster), and Cathal Garvey (Australia) to discuss a range of issues relevant to not only rugby, but also other sports.

Read the article


February 2017 saw the fourth OptaPro Analytics Forum. The event concluded with a guest talk delivered from Dennis Lock, Head of Analytics at NFL team Miami Dolphins. In his talk, Dennis discussed his approaches to implementing an analytical framework within a professional sports team, along with his own experiences and relationships with coaching staff.


February also saw Chris Anderson appear on the OptaPro Three At The Back podcast. In this in-depth interview, Chris shared his thoughts on host of issues relevant to the football analytics industry.

Listen to the interview


In March, OptaPro hosted its first analytical conference in Germany. The event saw practitioners discuss match analysis, recruitment and the implementation of analytics. This presentation from Leicester City analysts Andrew Blake and Peter Clark covered how they approach opposition analysis.


While expected goals is a metric that has been familiar to a number of clubs for a few years now, it’s wider presence this season has perhaps acted as a reminder of how we value and apply this metric, ensuring its value is not misused to support a misinformed truth.

In April, Keith Lyons provided a comprehensive resource reviewing literature across introductions to analytics, shots and expected goals.

Read the resource


Scunthorpe United analyst Harry Jamieson joined Paul Riley for his Differentgame podcast to discuss his processes around the match analysis cycle. The podcast provided in insight on applied analysis outside of the Premier League, where limited resources can often have a major influence.


Created by Vox, this film focuses on well certain sports measure skill. the short film asks (and answers) how confident can we be that outcomes in a sport reflect true differences in skill?


The past five (and beyond for certain analysts) years has seen a host of football analytics work in the public space. There are a many articles, visualisations and presentations that have informed more recent work, and will undoubtedly inspire future work in this space – both publicly and the work that is taking place within a club environment. Ray Hamil coordinated this work and shared in fully categorised analytical library; a tool that undoubtedly supported people since shared.

Access the library


In July, this ESPN article explored how analytical processes are being integrated by MLS teams to support and inform both analysis and recruitment. The article discussed not only the degree to which this style of analysis has been implemented, but also acknowledges the unique aspect of MLS when compared with European competitions.

Read the article


Writing for Fangraphs, Travis Sawchik authors this insightful article that discusses the evolution of a scout’s role alongside the development of technology and the progression of data analysis. While the article focuses on baseball, there are clear implications across other sports.

Read the article

The StatsBomb annual season previews also deserve to be mentioned here. Now commonplace and a fixture within the football analytics community, these wide-ranging previews go into great detail when analysing teams ahead of the new season.

Read the previews


Performance analyst Dan Fradley reveals how he applies data and analytics to support and influence the performances of New York City Football Club.


Mark Taylor authored this data-driven article that explored and visualised defensive profiles of teams in the Premier League.

Read the article

Also in October, Toronto FC manager of analytics Devin Pleuler delivered an excellent presentation at NESSSIS 2017 that focused on applying an analytical framework to analyse styles of play.


Ben Falk, creator of the Cleaning the Glass website and former VP of basketball strategy with the Sixers & basketball analytics manager with the Blazers shares a thought-provoking articles that reviews ‘failures’ in recruitment and the importance of learning from these experiences.

Read the article

Also in November, Euan Dewar and Mark Thompson analysed Manchester City from a possessions perspective, looking into the speed of possessions and style of play - both with and without the ball.

Read the article


Euan Dewar followed up his Manchester City analysis with this article that looked to dissect Atlético Madrid's attack this season, looking at their use of the ball this season compared to previous years.

Read the article


You can also read '12 of the best' from 2015  and 2016.

Are there any additional articles you'd like to see included here? Please add them in the Comments section below.

Posted by Ryan Bahia at 00:00
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