Arsenal have added Mikhail Zhilkin to the backroom staff as a ‘Data Scientist’.
The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology graduate has a Master of Science in Applied Physics and Mathematics, and his bio on LinkedIn now reads:
Data scientist at Arsenal F.C. Previously, 4 years at King, taking care of Candy Crush franchise. Oversaw the launch of Candy Crush Soda & Candy Crush Jelly.
His profile says he’s a: Data scientist interested in rational thinking, automation, data visualisation, machine learning, association football.
Arseblog News can’t pretend we know a lot about Candy Crush, other than the fact we ignored about seventy billion invitations from Facebook ‘friends’ to play it, but according to Training Ground Guru, Zhilkin will ‘focus on injury and physical data, creating insights to be used by the coaching and performance staff at the club.’
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes these days, with video analysis, the use of data in assessing player performance and Arsenal, of course, famously bought a stats company, StatDNA, as a tool to help those who make the decisions do so in as informed a way as possible.
While many focus on its impact on our transfer targets, StatDNA also provides a raft of information about the players in the squad as well as opposition players. This was a feature of the platform that Arsene Wenger rarely used as his focus was almost always on how his team played.
The club expect new boss Unai Emery, famed for his attention to detail and briefing his team as thoroughly as possible about the opponents, to make more use of that side of it in the future.
Will data be our secret weapon? Can we bring on data in the last 15 to score a goal? Will data cause the destruction of the human race?
The answer is, I doubt it, no, and almost certainly, but let’s hope the new guy plays his part over the coming years.