The bookies say it will be the Carolina Panthers, and there’s one clear statistic to back that up: the Panthers won 15 out of the 16 games in the regular season, compared to the Denver Bronco’s 12.

That should make the Panthers favourites, but the best team in the regular season is not a shoo-in to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Read more

The January transfer window is upon us, and with several major clubs across the continent enduring tumultuous seasons, there are likely to be some fairly high profile comings and goings.

Every season billions of pounds change hands in the two periods where deals can take place across the globe, but despite the amount of the sports media’s attention devoted to the transfer market, evidence suggests there remains a surprising amount of uncertainty over what the fees involved actually are. Read more

The Red Devils have hardly undergone a Chelsea-esque implosion — they sit in 5th place at the time of writing — but the Old Trafford faithful have grown increasingly restless, an undercurrent of discontent growing into a crescendo of criticism as perceived lacklustre performances have been followed by the poor results many felt they deserved.

According to an FT analysis, those perceptions are backed up by the statistics. After seven years of near-unbroken dominance in terms of their results, Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure from the post of manager was followed by a dramatic decline.

By the end of David Moyes’ solitary term in charge, Man United’s results — after adjusting for opposition quality — didn’t even put them among the fourth strongest sides in the league. The arrival of Louis van Gaal brought about a recovery: by the end of his first campaign the club was — only just — back among the four strongest sides in the league in terms of results. Read more

Last Thursday Chelsea’s owners made the decision many felt has been coming since August, and dismissed their talismanic manager José Mourinho.

Thus comes to an end his second spell at the reins of the club. The first ended in relative stagnation, but the second was truly a meteoric rise and fall.

With the aid of a statistical examination of the last 15 seasons, we can see the best and worst of Mourinho, and get a clue as to some of what went wrong this time around. Read more

Last week Garry Monk became the seventh Premier League manager to be dismissed by his club in 2015, and the 11th top flight departure overall in the same period when resignations and contract expiries are included.

Monk had been in the job for just under two years, and while you could be forgiven for thinking this is precious little time, it actually comes in at almost twice the median across all Premier League managers in 2015. Read more

Jamie Vardy’s record-setting Premier League goalscoring streak for Leicester City has been hailed as one of the most remarkable individual achievements of modern English football, but how does it compare to similar feats elsewhere?

Many have pointed out that Vardy’s run of scoring in 11 successive top flight English matches remains behind that of Jimmy Dunne, who made it to 12 for Sheffield United in 1931/32.

But given how much the game has changed over the intervening 60-plus years in terms of tactics, fitness and other factors, perhaps a better way of contextualising his record is to compare it to those of his contemporaries. Read more


Ever since the Open Era began in 1968, we can identify the individuals and their periods of success. First came Laver, Rosewall and Newcombe; next was Borg’s reign, bookended by Connors, McEnroe and Lendl. Wilander and Becker ushered in the ’90s before giving way to Sampras and Agassi.

Federer, Nadal and now Djokovic have run the show since then, but there is no heir apparent. The average age of the ATP top 10 is 29.7 — the highest it has ever been — with an unprecedented five of its current members aged over 30. Read more

The last time athletics was engulfed by doping concerns of the volume seen last week was the 1980s, when performance enhancing substances including testosterone were commonplace among elite competitors.

This doping dark age left a mark still visible today in the form of records set decades ago that are still yet to be broken – and in some cases yet even to be approached. Read more

A dozen games into the new Premier League season, Chelsea’s title defence has been anaemic, and few — if any — saw it coming. But with the aid of hindsight, shots data and the Elo ratings system, we can obtain a clue as to exactly when their troubles began: January 1 2015. Read more

Since he shot to teenage stardom, Wayne Rooney has formed the mainstay of every team he has been part of, both at club and international level, and has stayed relatively injury free.

He is one of a select few world-class strikers to have played more than 50,000 minutes by their 30th birthday, but is he worn out as a result, and what might he learn from former Real Madrid star Raúl, whose career trajectory is almost a perfect match for his own? Read more

Belgium's rankings according to Fifa and eloratings.netWins earlier in October against Israel and Andorra will see the team leapfrog Argentina and Germany when Fifa’s rankings are updated next month, but how highly do alternative systems rate the Red Devils? Read more

The World Athletics Championships are taking place this week in Beijing, and Usain Bolt’s narrow victory over Justin Gatlin in the men’s 100m final rounded off the opening Sunday.

Always one of the biggest moments of any athletics meet, this year’s race was especially eagerly anticipated given the narrative that had built around Gatlin. Read more

Between 2009/10 and 2014/15 spending by England’s local authorities was cut by a fifth — more than twice the rate of spending cuts to the rest of the UK public sector. Our Local Cuts Checker database brings together a myriad of data to allow readers to explore the impact of those cuts in their areas.

Our new unemployment tracker shows the latest jobs data across the European Union, including top-line figures for each country’s constituent regions. The most recent figures are for September 2014.

You can also download the latest data using the link beneath the graphic. Read more

Updated May 06 2015


Note: the five parties shown are those for which every polling company in our poll-of-polls provides individual figures.

UK voters will elect a new parliament in a general election on May 7. Our poll-of-polls tracks all national-level voting intention polling figures going back to the 2010 election – the dots on our chart – and then calculates a rolling score for each party adjusted for recency and different pollsters. Read more

In 1961, the average UK 20-something sat in the upper third of the income distribution after deducting housing costs, but the subsequent 50 years have seen a dramatic reversal in their fortunes. Explore the UK’s widening generation gap over income with this interactive graphic. Read more

Roger Federer was eliminated from the Australian Open when he lost a match in which he won the majority of the points.

Was it a one-off, or a sign of an underlying issue? And how does his rival Rafael Nadal compare when it comes to winning the biggest points in tennis? Find out in our interactive graphic Read more

156 players have reached the top ten of the ATP men’s singles rankings since they were established in 1973. How do they compare on success and longevity?

Find out in our interactive graphic Read more

The UK’s ‘two speed’ housing market is not a novel concept, but new figures highlight the regional and political split like never before.

Use our interactive graphic to explore how geography and politics divide fortunes in Britain’s property market. Read more

It is said that money makes the world go round, but in football’s transfer market we can be a little more specific on that money’s provenance. Our interactive graphic explores the net spend of the 265 clubs in world football to have each spent £10m or more in total since 1980, grouped by country.

Any guesses on the identity of the country whose clubs spend the most? Read more