On PDO in Soccer

Luck in Sports

In sports analytics (and statistics in general), a great deal of effort goes into determining which phenomena are random, and which are determined by, or predictive of some other piece of information. When trying to determine the skill level of a team, or their ability in a certain area, you want to know whether statistics in this area are indicative of skill itself, or whether or not they are random, undetermined by a team’s true ability. An example here is turnovers in NFL football. It’s been established that, season to season, the turnover margin of a football team is subject to a great deal of randomness. Thus, teams with lower turnover differentials can be considered to be experiencing “bad luck” and be expected to regress toward average luck in the future (with the reverse holding for high differential teams). In soccer, PDO has been put forth as a stat that is an approximate indicator of a team’s “luck”.

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