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Posted on 06 November 2019

Since the introduction of the new Match Day scoring matrix on Football Index at the start of the 2019/20 season, many traders have noticed a that it appears to be heavily favouring midfielders. We thought it would be interesting to delve into the stats and see just how true that really was.

We'll begin by revealing this stat: Up to and including 26 October, there have been 61 Match Days on Football Index. Of those, 40 have been won by a midfielder for Star Player. The remaining are made up of 9 defender wins and 12 going to forwards. Quite frankly, we could end this article now on that information!

But we'll keep going and look at some other numbers to see if there's hope for defenders and forwards yet...

We have based all the following stats on a sample size of the top 20 players on each day. We feel this is a large enough number to study and focuses on the players who - mostly - have come within reach of the highest score on a given day.

So let's first look at the average number of each type of player who appeared in the top 20 over the course of each day:

This would perhaps indicate that whilst midfielders are edging star player, defenders are also making a good fist of challenging for those top spots. Meanwhile, the number of forwards is also perhaps more indicative of the generally lower amount of players classed as forwards playing on each match day.

What about average scores of the top 20? This is the overall average score by position of the top 20 players each day

Here we see a fairly clear gap between midfielders and defenders, but it's pretty close to the forwards. Again, we can probably say that due to the much lower number of forwards in the game, it offers less chance for more lower scores to drop the average.

Finally, we can look at the average Star Player winning score by position:

Again, there is a clear lead for midfielders over defenders, but forwards actually have the highest winning average score so far.

What would seem most surprising in light of those numbers is overall, they actually look fairly close in terms of overall averages. Sure there are roughly 10 or so points between both the top 20 and star player averages for defenders and midfielders, but that doesn't seem like it should translate to 31 extra star player wins!

With that in mind, let's take a look at one other set of averages. This time we took the winning score for each position on each day:

This is perhaps the biggest indication of why we're seeing the domination of midfield star players. Whilst the overall averages may be fairly similar, we can see a clear and undisputed difference when it comes to those daily winning scores. It would appear then that midfielders are more likely to consistently place a high score whilst defenders and forwards will hit them slightly more sporadically.

As a small side note, it could also be argued that a handful of those defender and forward wins were actually made by players who could quite easily fall into the midfield category. Players such as Riyad Mahrez, Robert Skov, Jesus Navas, Memphis Depay and Ayoze Perez could all be argued as being midfielders (indeed, a number of them have been classified as such on Football Index previously). Fantasy Football players will probably already have noted that Mahrez and Perez are classed as midfielders in this year's game to back up this point further.

So what is causing this heavy trend towards midfielders winning a vast majority of Star Player so far this season? It would seem a fairly confident call to suggest the newly tweaked scoring matrix is the main cause.

If we look back to when Football Index first revealed the new scoring matrix, the category that immediately springs out is 'Distribution'. As we can see in the table below, not only is there a 10 point increase for an assist, but a number of completely new possible scoring methods which tend to favour midfielders.

More specifically, they tend to suggest that midfielders who are on the ball, creating chances and making a large number of passes per game with scoring opportunities for key passes, chances created and accurate through balls will benefit the most.

If we also look at the 'Attacking' category, there too are a number of scoring opportunities that would perhaps favour attacking midfielders. These include dribbles, corners won and fouls won.

Of course, a number of those also suit certain types of forwards and even defenders, which would explain why we're seeing overall similar averages for all three player types in the top 20 daily scores. But on a pure consistency level, it's always going to be more likely that a midfield player will have more passes and influence over the game than a defender or forward.

Plus of course whilst forwards are most likely to grab the goals, there is always a good chance that a midfielder finds the back of the net too. And they also encroach into the defensive side of the points by putting in tackles, interceptions and winning aerial duels.

What we can say overall here is that midfielders have by far the most opportunities to score points in the Match Day points matrix and with the current version starting this season, there are now even more.


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