Classy Evra

Simon Mullock for the Mirror:

Patrice Evra has voted for Luis Suarez as his PFA Player of the Year.

The Manchester United defender has chosen his arch-enemy from Liverpool for one of football’s most prestigious individual honours despite the ugly race-row incident between the pair in October 2011 which saw Suarez banned for eight games and fined £40,000.

Chelsea’s Midfield Lacks Guile

Tom Gatehouse for Soccerlens:

The Blues desperately need an Andrea Pirlo, a Xabi Alonso, a Bastian Schweinsteiger; someone to play alongside a more defensive minded partner, and pick passes for the dynamic attacking four ahead of him. Until this happens, Chelsea will continue to struggle against the likes of Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa; attempting small, obvious passes around the box, with no hint of a plan b.

Or a Juan Mata?

Chelsea’s Unbeaten Home Run Comes to and End

Garry Hayes for Bleacher Report:

After 78 Premier League matches, Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten home record is gone, with the Black Cats coming away 2-1 winners. More significantly, Chelsea’s hopes of lifting the title have disappeared, too.

Perhaps Mourinho has been lauded too much for building up a team of counter-attacking superstars. Perhaps this is exactly the type of game where Juan Mata would have flourished, finding space with intelligent movement. Perhaps.

Chelsea 1-2 Sunderland

Dominic Fifield at Stamford Bridge, reporting for The Guardian:

This was a twist few had foreseen in a campaign that has already defied logic. José Mourinho’s 77-game unbeaten league sequence in this arena had been curtailed by the division’s bottom club, a team without a win in the elite since early February, with the decisive goal converted by a former Chelsea player.

This season has been incredible. Now it seems, from injuries to freak results, that there is an agreement about handing the title to Liverpool. Chelsea losing at home against Sunderland, who would have guessed that?

Robben is a Monster

Ted Knutson for Stats Bomb:

The short analysis of these players would read: Even at age 30, Arjen Robben is a monster. Shot monster, dribble monster, and excellent key pass numbers as well. He’s basically unplayable, especially with Ribery, more creative but a slightly lesser scorer, on the other side.

Love the stat radars that Stats Bomb produces. They give a better visual view of a player than going over a whole table of stats. As show in this piece it also provides a fantastic way of comparing two players.

Atlético Madrid 2-0 Elche

Rik Sharma for Mail Online:

If they win their next three league matches they will be crowned La Liga champions before the visit to Barcelona on the final day.

How amazing would it be for the neutrals if Liverpool and Atlético Madrid won the league titles this season. Would give every team toiling away in the third to seventh spot hope of battling for the title next year.

The Sliding Scale of Diving

Richard Whittall, for Counter Attack, on Gary Neville’s opinion that Matt Jarvis should have gone down when challenged in the box against Arsenal:

There is another way to see simulation, however: the inevitable result of football simply being the sport that it is. Diving, rather than a moral choice, is a heuristic response to the circumstances of any given football match. You can try to resist it, but there will always be a tendency to go to ground with goals as valuable as they are. Diving for pens is just the extreme end of a spectrum of deceit which also includes moving the ball in free kicks and falsely claiming throw-ins.

Whittall with another fine take on a complicated issue. He’s one of the best football writers today, able to put complex matters in a clear perspective.

Gary Neville on Diving

Gary Neville on Sky Sports:

He should have gone down. Well done, your team haven’t won a game.

You can either be an angel and do what Matt Jarvis did and get a pat on the back off his Nan when he goes home tonight, or he can win his team a penalty.

The referee won’t give it if you don’t go down. Sam [Allardyce] said it, if you don’t go down you don’t get a penalty. It’s a foul.

I suppose in some ways people can say ‘It’s disappointing to hear you say that Gary’ – well then, be disappointed because ultimately that’s the game.

That’s the truth and we all know it. Whoever claims that managers and players would rather be “clean” than win a game is living in a fantasy world.

Introducing The Pena.lt/y Web App

Martin Eastwood at Pena.lt/y:

The pena.lt/y web app is essentially a website connected to a computer programme running in the cloud that monitors upcoming football fixtures and models their expected outcomes and probabilities. As well as individual fixtures the pena.lt/y web app also models full seasons so you can see how likely teams are to win the league, reach Europe or get relegated etc. Plus you can see their Pythagorean Predictions too.

It’s raw, but promising.

Luis Suárez’s Financial Worth

Jimmy Coverdale for B Sports’s Stats Insight:

Over the summer, when it appeared that Luis Suarez could depart the club, I argued that the striker’s ability to both score and create made Suarez a more valuable player than Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani – with any potential transfer fee being closer to what Real Madrid paid for Gareth Bale than the £55 million paid for Cavani (not to mention the £40,000,001 that was reportedly offered by Arsenal), given that the market was set set by the Falcao/Cavani transfers. Certainly, just looking at Suarez’s assists would be flawed – after all he’s been fortunate that he’s had teammates on hand to convert these chances. However, he has created 20 big chances (0.69 per 90 minutes), eight more than any other Premier League player (again with a teammate in second, just this time Philippe Coutinho), and he ranks eighth in the division with 2.70 shot assists per 90 minutes (among players with a minimum of 1,000 minutes played). The benefit of this dual goal and creative threat has been exemplified by Suarez this season – as when the player fails to find the net he’s still a threat to the opposition’s goal.

Liverpool should only sell for a ridiculous amount, or not at all. If the win the title and can keep Suárez they only need to add depth for next season. Sell Suárez, and the need to review their forward setup. The big question is whether an oil club or Real Madrid offer some crazy amount of money in the summer.