I had a friend text me the other day. He was wondering what the record for RCD Espanyol was in second halves over the last few years. Going on memory, I agreed with him that it wasn't very good. I spent a few minutes gathering the data and I got this. In the last 5 years in second halves, the club has taken 20 points in 2007-2008, 34 points in 2008-2009, 28 points in 2009-2010 and 18 points in 2010-2011. This year they have 23 points and are slated to take 26 if their current form continues, all from a possible 66 total points in second halves. That's an average of 25 points in second halves over the last 5 seasons, an average of about 1.14 points per game.
As usual though, when you use statistics towards some end, you start unraveling truths that lead to other mysteries or interesting points. Despite the fact that Espanyol have consistently averaged right around 46 points per year over that stretch, right around mid-table actually, once you start peeling back the layers of the statistical onion, you start realizing that the club have been much more volatile than at first glance. In 2007-2008, the club started the first half with 28 points out of a possible 48 points. They returned from Christmas break and went on to secure only 20 out the remaining 66 points. It what I expected, but that has not been a consistent trend. The next two years, the club flipped their form, and got off to slow starts with strong finishes. And then the last two years have seen strong starts and slow finishes.
That’s a basic idea of what the trends have been, but I decided to play with the data a little more. I charted what their form (percentage of points won over possible points) was at before the Christmas break and then compared that to how they ended the campaign. This year alone they will likely take 26 of a possible 66 points in the second half, around 39.9% them, whereas they took 22 of 48 possible first half points or around 46%. Now, I know there are few clubs in Spain that have the sort of squads that can maintain their form throughout the year, and there are peaks and valleys, but if the expectation is that all clubs generally start off hot and simmer down and their change in form is relatively stable, then I don’t know what the data with Espanyol means.
This year they saw a negative 22% drop in form from first to second halves. Last year the difference was even more pronounced. After the New Year, Espanyol were functioning at a level 58% below, compared to the first half of the 2010-2011 season.
read more: Bird on a Wire: Espanyol Record