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Liverpool move faster than most in the market.

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While Liverpool were the biggest spenders of the transfer window -- they were the only EPL club with a net spend in excess of £100m -- another striking feature of their summer business was the speed and decisiveness with which they got it done: all four of their major signings were completed nearly three weeks before the end of the transfer window.

Prompt and decisive is a good description of Liverpool's recruitment strategy in the second half of the John Henry era. Since 2015, Liverpool have purchased 15 players in the summer transfer window (excluding free transfers, or those for which the fee was undisclosed) for a grand total of around £400m. Only one of those players was bought in August and that was the somewhat opportunistic purchase of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The majority of their new recruits in recent years have had at least a couple of weeks to bed in before the season started.

How do Liverpool compare with the rest of the EPL in terms of the speed of their transfer …

Inward-looking England invest in the future.

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In the 65th minute of England's friendly against Costa Rica last week, Nick Pope stepped onto the pitch to make his first international appearance for England. At the same moment, Trent Alexander-Arnold's senior international debut came to end. Both players were selected for England's World Cup squad without having ever played for the senior men's side; only 9 other players at this World Cup have achieved that particular feat.

It is no secret that Southgate has selected a youthful side to take to Russia, but how do they compare in terms of age and experience to the other 31 tournament participants?

Figure 1 plots the average age of each World Cup squad against the average number of senior international appearances the players had made when the final squads were announced. As you might expect, there is a clear relationship between age and number of appearances. The average World Cup player is nearly 28 years old and has made about 34 appearances for his country.


Costa …

What can we expect from the 21st FIFA World Cup?

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On Thursday 14th June, at 6pm local time, the 21st World Cup will kick off in Moscow; the first to be held in Russia, and only the second in Asia. Thirty-one days later, two of the thirty-two participants will contest the final.

There are sure to be shocks and surprises along the way, but what should we expect from the tournament before the first ball has been kicked? Who are the favourites? How likely are we to have a European, South American, Asian or African winner (or perhaps a first-time winner)? Which is the toughest group, or the easiest? How far is each side likely to get?

Based on a simple model for predicting match results, I've simulated the World Cup 10,000 times to evaluate the likelihood of various outcomes and investigate some of the quirks of the tournament. If you're interested in the technical details, scroll down to the Appendix. As the tournament plays out, I'll be rerunning and updating my predictions: follow me on Twitter (@EightyFivePoint) if you…

Show me the Money: how much is each premier league position worth?

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With less than a quarter of the season remaining, most EPL clubs will finish within a couple of places of their current league position. For some clubs this could mean the difference between survival or sinking into the Championship; for others, swimming with the big fish in the Champions League or the smaller shoals of the Europa League. For the rest the consequences are less dramatic.

While fans chew at their finger nails, club owners and directors will be busy assessing the financial consequences of each permutation as they plan for next season. A significant proportion of each club's revenue next year will depend on their final league position in May. The difference between 8th and 10th may not seem particularly important, but how much are these few extra places worth in terms of the cash prizes on offer? More generally, what is the total amount a club can expect to bank as a direct consequence of their final league position?

The Prizes on Offer
The financial rewards associat…

Declining home advantage makes Mourinho's Spanish stalemate a risky strategy

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José Mourinho was strongly criticized for United's negative performance following their 0-0 draw against Sevilla last week. While perception of the result was partly coloured by Liverpool's three-goal haul at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán stadium during the group stage, the general consensus is that United may come to regret their lack of ambition in pursuing an away goal.

A goalless first leg leaves a European tie precariously balanced. In the decisive second match, one team has the advantage of playing at home. The other team, however, has the advantage of the away goals rule: any scoring draw will guarantee them a place in the next round. Unless United build up a healthy lead, Old Trafford will be very nervy place on the 13th March.

The advantage of playing at home has undeniably declined over the decades. In the 70's and 80's, the home team in European competitions would win 60% of matches; in the last 10 years this has declined to 47% (irrespective of whether you inc…

Foreign leagues profit from Premier League wealth.

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The UK has long been a country that imports more goods than it exports. For decades we’ve been buying more food, cars, and other consumer goods from the rest of the world than we've sold. We tend to purchase more than we produce, and in recent years this has also become true of another type of commodity: footballers.

EPL clubs are rolling in the money received from the lucrative sale of TV broadcasting rights, sponsorship and match-day revenue. A large proportion of this wealth is being used to buy players for exorbitant transfer fees and service huge wage bills. This season, English clubs have paid nearly €2 billion in transfer fees, of which €1.1 billion has been spent on imported players. Income from player exports is significantly less – €0.4 billion – leaving English clubs with a net overseas expenditure of €0.7 billion: another large trade deficit.

English football has been running a trade deficit for some time. In the last six seasons, clubs have spent a total of €4.6 billi…

Consistent or Calamitous: How good is your goalie?

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David De Gea won the match for Man United at the Emirates last month. Under siege for much of the second half, de Gea’s brilliant performance preserved United’s lead at a crucial stage of the match. He made a total of 14 saves in the match, equaling the EPL record set by Tim Krul for Newcastle in 2013.

How many goals does a high-quality goalkeeper like de Gea save his team over the course of a season? Pundits frequently claim that a goalkeeper is worth so many goals or points, but this has never actually been measured. In this post I take advantage of a novel feature of Stratagem’s dataset to infer the number of goals that EPL goalkeepers have saved or cost their teams in the last two seasons. Who is bailing out their defence, and who is letting them down? Would United be a top-4 team without de Gea? Is either of Mignolet and Karius a decent shot-stopper?

The difficulty of a save
When a goalkeeper fails to make a routine save it is described as an error, costing the team a goal. But …