The Return of Style Points for Clubs and Matches

Last year, in these pages, the author introduced a metric called Style Points designed to estimate roughly, on a scale of 0 to 10, the aesthetic appeal of each club currently playing in Europe’s five major leagues — a figure which, when combined with a prospective opponent’s Style Point rating, also yielded a match rating capable of serving as a sort of barometer for the capacity of any game to facilitate capital-P Pleasure.

The purpose of this post is to announce for the benefit of this site’s ones, or maybe even tens, of readers that I’ll be producing these Style Point club and match ratings regularly during this year’s football season. What else it’s to announce is that I’ve altered slightly the calculation of Style Points.

Regarding that latter announcement: the two inputs for the original version of Style Points were average short passes per match (per Who Scored) and also estimated roster value (per Transfer Markt). The first number serves as an able proxy, it seems, for aesthetically appealing play. The second one I utilized as a proxy for a club’s fiscal resources — the rationale being that, between two clubs with similarly appealing play, the one which has cost less is more virtuous.

For the most recent iteration of Style Points, I’ve retained the first two variables and added a third — in this case, average shots in the box per match (also available at Who Scored). Shots in the box correlate rather directly with goals and, for those clubs that are able to record more rather than fewer of them, it’s an indication that the short passes they’re compiling are completed in the service of shots with higher expected goal-scoring value.

To calculate Style Points, what I’ve done — after compiling data for shots in the box per match, short passes per match, and estimated market value for every club — what I’ve then done is to calculate the z-score (that is, standard deviations from the mean) of those three variables for each club relative to that club’s respective league, multiplying the last figure by -1 to denote how greater club value is actually a detriment. Following that, I’ve multiplied all three restuls by 0.5. I’ve then added the z-scores together, multiplied the result by five, and then added five — in order to distribute all the resulting figures over an approximate scale of 0 to 10 for each league.

The complete results for the very young season are available via spreadsheet here.

Below are the top-10 clubs by Style Points. (Note: BOXz denotes the z-score for shots in the box per game; SHORTz, the z-score for short passes per game; and CASHz, the z-score for estimate market value.)

Style Leaders

And the bottom 10:

Style Laggards

Some notes of varying import:

  • At this point, because no European league has played as many even as five games, it’s very possible that what one finds here is influenced quite heavily by a certain favorable (or perhaps unfavorable) single matchup.
  • That said, Celta Vigo oughtn’t be entirely dismissed for having produced more shots in the box relative to their league (10.5 per game) than every club in Europe’s five major leagues so far but Marseille. To get a sense both of (a) the degree to which taking shots in the box relates to goal-scoring and also (b) how quickly it actually might become reliable, note the clubs ranked third through fifth already by this measure: Roma, Juventus, Barcelona.
  • Empoli exhibited a distinct (and somewhat effective, in terms of shots taken) commitment to a ball control game in their season debut — this, despite carrying a roster worth approximately one-tenth of Juventus‘s and rated 19th out of 20 in the Serie A by that measure.
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