The Double Pivot

The Double Pivot


Introducing The Double Pivot from Howler Magazine, hosted by Mike Goodman and Michael Caley. The Double Pivot is for people who want smart soccer/football commentary with a healthy dose of analytics to back it up.


Why Alexis is like the Spartan general Brasidas, and other blowout revelations  

Quick note off the top: The audio quality of this episode isn't up to our normal standards, and we're sorry for that. This was our second attempt, and we decided a grainy-sounding something was better than nothing this week. SB Nation's Graham MacAree joins Michael Caley to talk about some weird results, the questions we're not asking in analytics, and yes, a digression that ties together Alexis Sanchez and the Peloponnesian War.

Which Premier League results revealed the most? Plus a mini-transfer window review  

As the fixture congestion fades, the race for the top four tightens and the two Mikes are starting to worry about a few clubs. Chelsea and Liverpool drew, which meant little for Chelsea but confirmed some suspicions about Liverpool. Elsewhere, Manchester United, Arsenal and Spurs all failed to get results when they figured they would. Is the hill getting steeper for one or all of them? Finally, the transfer window is closed, so which moves were noteworthy?

The beautiful chaos that was City vs. Spurs  

What do you do when your midfield doesn't really exist? You put Yaya Toure there by himself to hold down the fort behind a tidal wave of attacking options. It nearly worked for Pep Guardiola's side, but there was plenty to unpack from how both teams handled the opposition's approach. The two Mikes break down the match before turning their attention to "the magic of the cup." That's right, they zero in on the biggest matches and storylines in this weekend's FA Cup, from PSG vs. Monaco to Nice's run of form to the suddenly important clash between Real Madrid and Real Sociedad. And if you're saying to yourself, "Hey, those aren't FA Cup stories," well, that's the joke. 

Premier League: To buy, or not to buy?  

In the most congested part of the schedule for England's top clubs, some seem to be solidifying their style while others are falling off their expected pace. The two Mikes dive into whether the solution to Pep's woes at City is to buy more stars, if it's just too late for Liverpool to make a useful addition in this transfer window, and where they'd strengthen at clubs where there are less obvious holes to fill (United, Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea). Also, it turns out Hawai'i is very nice, and Caley's dog vehemently objects to the Double Pivot Pod.

Breaking down Spurs-Chelsea and examining City's "crisis"  

Spurs had a very specific plan to derail Chelsea's epic run of results, and it worked, over and over and over. How did it work? Well, the two Mikes have some ideas about that and a few about what it means for both squads going forward. Then, they run through the issues City is having, and just how concerning they might be down the stretch. 

Samir Nasri's Twitter mess, Bob Bradley's sacking & midseason awards  

We're not completely sure what happened, but we're here to talk about what did happen when Samir Nasri's Twitter account started fighting with itself. Then, the two Mikes debate whether Bob Bradley was truly given a fair shake at Swansea before handing out midseason awards. But these aren't your garden variety awards, with gems like "Player Most Likely to be Accused of Having a 'Crisis of Confidence' in the Second Half of the Season" award.

Can anyone catch Chelsea? What the numbers say  

Publicly declare that Chelsea are now sizable favorites to win the Premier League – with a seemingly insurmountable lead – and you'll be met with plenty of doubt. The two Mikes dive deeper into the numbers that explain why it will take something special for anyone else to win the league. Then, they turn their attention to the seemingly endless amount of criticism Mesut Ozil gets (and whether any of it is warranted), before finishing with Southampton and the lack of goals keeping them stuck around seventh. 

How exactly do analytics work when it comes to defense?  

Defense presents a lot of problems when it comes to statistical analysis, and it gets very tricky when you start to move beyond chances created or conceded. The easy-to-define link between what players are doing and the endpoint of expected goals and goals on offense isn't so easy to follow backwards from the same result on defense. The two Mikes examine why defensive stats aren't great, and why reacting to what an offense is doing is hard to quantify beyond the reaction itself. 

Real Madrid, where tactics are overrated  

El Clásico never fails to create talking points, but this one was a lot different than most in recent memory, particularly if you start to look ahead in the season. But first, a trip through the Premier League top six and their hijinks. From Liverpool's collapse to Bournemouth, to the weird problems hampering the triumvirate of Arsenal, Manchester United and Spurs, to the bar room brawl that was Chelsea vs. Manchester City. Also, everyone's favorite dog wears a t-shirt.

Our sponsor this week is Futchi. Get $20 off a Futchi set with the promo code HOWLER.

Who will win the Premier League's race to the bottom?  

A few surprise candidates snuck into the relegation race, and that makes sorting through the field even more interesting than usual. From West Brom to Sunderland, the two Mikes make the case for the demise or survival of all of the clubs struggling to get out of the cellar. 

Adventures in the Bundesliga, or why everyone hates RB Leipzig  

If you're wondering why RB Leipzig isn't the feel-good story that Leicester City was just a year ago, there are a few things you should learn about the Bundesliga. But before the guys welcome in this week's guest, they examine the "other" three teams chasing the leaders in the Premier League.

Our sponsor this week is Futchi. Get $20 off a Futchi set with the promo code HOWLER.

The Best of La Liga and the Worst of USMNT  

The axes have been sharpening to oust Jurgen Klinnsman, and a 4-0 result against Costa Rica didn't help. The two Mikes examine whether it's time for the U.S. to make a change at the helm, and what factors are most important when making that decision. Then, they try to figure out which La Liga team is the best. Is Barça actually in crisis? How is Real Madrid doing something so crazy? And is Atletico Madrid the best team in the world?

Our sponsor this week is Futchi. Get $20 off a Futchi set with the promo code HOWLER.

The role of analytics in football media w/ special guest Gab Marcotti  

The two Mikes are joined by one of the world's most preeminent soccer journalists to discuss how the rise of analytics has changed how the sport is covered, how far the relationship between the two still has to go, and what hurdles stand between those covering the game and today's ultra-informed fan. 

Breaking down four strikers, plus the "father of soccer analytics"  

Four Premier League strikers are having very different seasons. What's wrong with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and is this a slump to ride out or do something about? Jamie Vardy's shots are way down, and there are a few reasons why. Romelu Lukaku isn't struggling at all, and yet doesn't seem to get the credit he deserves. And Spurs aren't the same without Harry Kane. The two Mikes dive into the unique situations confronting each striker and club before switching gears to chat with Joe Sykes of FiveThirtyEight about Charles Reep, widely considered the father of modern soccer analytics, and the subject of a Hot Takedown podcast you need to check out. 

How the Premier League title race is shaking up  

The two Mikes revisit their preseason rankings of the title contenders, and examine what's changed for each of them since then. They start with Manchester United, who have a very cranky and expensive group of reserves that never see the field. Injury riddled Spurs have had a lot go wrong so far this year, and the jury is still out on Chelsea for some very specific reasons. A few numbers suggest that Liverpool is for real, a lack of depth may haunt Arsenal yet again, and you'll be stunned to find that Manchester City are still leading the pack by a wide margin (but one part of the field remains a potentially large problem). 

Two very different Manchester vs. Merseyside clashes  

Two draws were received very differently this week. The two Mikes take a longer look at the scoreless draw at Anfield (sorry in advance), and then flip to the 1-1 result at the Etihad. They examine a few questions along the way. Can this United team win a title, or even finish in the top four with this approach? Is Daniel Sturridge a problem for LFC? Should expectations be shifting higher for Everton? And of course, the annual wave of "Is Pep a fraud?" narratives.

Life cycles and time horizons  

During a riveting international break, the two Mikes desperately search for something else to talk about, and land on the windows of opportunity in front of four premier league clubs. How badly do Manchester City need a fullback? Does Liverpool need a left back or a midfielder more, and does that change if Jürgen Klopp thinks they can win the title this year? Should Swansea City and Sunderland buy or stand pat when the January window arrives with relegation potentially looming?

Spurs stun City, Barca in crisis and Bob Bradley is a Swan  

Tottenham Hotspur played a slightly different style against Manchester City, and it totally freaking worked. The two Mikes discuss whether the outcome outlined the ways in which City are vulnerable, revisit the idea that Barcelona might possibly be in trouble, walk the path of the hottest takes to assess Swansea City's hiring of Bob Bradley, and then spend a lot of time talking about Hamilton (the play, not the Scottish team).

Introducing The Goalmouth, Howler’s newest podcastisode  

The Goalmouth is a new, 5-minute podcast that will show up on your phone by 7 a.m. EST every weekday morning so you can hear the latest soccer news and nonsense on your commute. In collaboration with the Total Soccer Show and Dirty Tackle. For more information, visit:

Introducing The Goalmouth, Howler’s newest podcast  

The Goalmouth is a new, 5-minute podcast that will show up on your phone by 7 a.m. EST every weekday morning so you can hear the latest soccer news and nonsense on your commute. In collaboration with the Total Soccer Show and Dirty Tackle. For more information, visit:

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