PB matrix changes – winners and losers?

Football Index announced some changes to the PB matrix ahead of the new season. On the whole, they chose to add extra points for new actions, meaning that PB scores for 2019/20 are likely to be a bit higher than last season so, on the face of it at least, there will be many more winners than losers.

Of course, this is nonsense as only one player can win in each category. This post is my take on who the real winners might be.

The changes

The new additions, and their corresponding points, are:

  • Big Chance Missed: -10
  • Attempted Dribble: 1
  • Successful Dribble: 2
  • Aerial Duel Won: 2
  • Accurate Long Ball: 2
  • Accurate Through Ball: 3
  • Big Chance Created: 3
  • Key Pass: 6
  • Secondary Key Pass: 3
  • Goalkeeper smother: 3
  • Goalkeeper good high claim: 2
  • Goalkeeper punch: 2
  • Accurate sweeper keeper: 3

Plus there were some changes elsewhere:

  • Winning goal: -5 (now 35)
  • Goal: +5 (now 45)
  • Last man tackle: +3 (now 20)
  • Assist: +10 (now 20)
  • Goalkeeper penalty save: +15 (now 45)

What does this all mean for different player’s PB chances?

Goalkeepers are slightly stronger, centre backs have gained a little but attacking full backs are the big winners
The changes have been largely focused on creative, attacking play. The additional points for some goalkeeper actions should put them in the mix for PB slightly more often than before but only where there isn’t a flying full back coming in to steal the points. No-nonsense centre backs have gained a little but are likely to be outscored by more attack-minded defenders, possible even outscoring goal scorers, as I’ll talk about below.

All in all, defenders continue to look a tricky category but the most valuable full backs should continue to dominate the points much as before.

Creative players are the big winners, assists are now (almost) as valuable as goals
This is the biggest change for me. Assists received a 10 point boost, compared to 5 points for goals, but the story doesn’t end there when you consider the ‘stacking’ impact of the new additions.

Imagine this play – a midfielder sees a forward in space through the middle where there is a perfect scoring opportunity, and plays a through ball into him. It’s accurate, the forward gets on the end of the pass, shoots and scores.

Under the old matrix, the midfielder earns 1 point for the pass and 10 points for the assist – a total of 11 points. The forward earns 3 points for the shot, 5 points for the shot being on target and 40 points for the goal – a total of 48 points.

With the new scoring, the midfielder earns 1 point for the pass, 3 points for the accurate through ball, 3 points for the big chance created, 6 points for the key pass and 20 points for the assist – a total of 33 points. The forward earns 3 points for the shot, 5 points for the shot being on target and 45 points for the goal – a total of 53 points.

Obviously not every situation will play out like this but there’s a huge opportunity for creative players to rack up points from assists, key passes and other attacking play. This could have the biggest impact on the defenders category, where heavily involved full backs could score enough points to outscore a centre back who has nicked a goal. It also might make the midfielder category even more difficult to call than before.

Out-and-out centre forwards probably lose out
For number 9s, the matrix has the potential to give with one hand and take away with another. Aerial duels won sounds like something aimed at defenders but various traders have already pulled the stats on this and it’s clear that centre forwards have the potential to be the biggest beneficiaries of this. However, they are also being hit with a 10 point deduction for any big chances missed and there aren’t any other changes to the matrix that look to benefit them specifically.

Looking at the other players that are likely to be competing for the forward PB on any given day, it looks unlikely that centre forwards, who don’t have a wider involvement in creative play, will be likely to win much PB. This should continue to make the forward category the easiest one to predict the winners for.

The bottom line – good players continue to be good
As expected, there is nothing in here that changes a bad player (for PB) into someone who is suddenly going to be pulling in the points week in and week out. If a player had low scores before, his scores will still be low now, even if he manages a successful dribble in a match and the occasional key pass. This comes back to my earlier point about all PB scores being lifted slightly by the addition of new actions.

If anything, I suspect we’ll see more ‘cream rising to the top’, with the likes of Messi, Kimmich, Neymar, Sancho and Mbappe bringing home even more PB than they did last year. This is a positive – we should be able to demonstrate that the value of these premium players is linked to their PB potential. So all in all, this looks like a well thought out change from Football Index HQ.

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