Watching City take on United at Old Trafford on Sunday was a sight to behold. Unfortunately, I wasn't there to see it in person (not that I wish United ill in any way) for the historical occasion it was (and the good football, too).
We now know that the outcome of the match was truly unusual. But how unusual? One way to put a number on "unusual" is to see how long it's been since an unusual result occurred - a chronological way of describing common and uncommon events. And that's been one of the story lines we've seen - aside from Alex Ferguson's "worst day", also "not since 1955" or "not since 1926" are things we've heard and read quite bit of these last couple of days. These numbers clearly tell us that Sunday's result was one for the history books.
If we're not interested in history and just statistics, another number we can put on "unusual" is the frequency of a result, relative to other occurrences. So for the hardcore statisticians among you, below is a table that shows the frequency of difference score lines in the Manchester derby when United hosted City since 1907 (the first such occasion). To find Sunday's result, go down on the United column to "1" and over on the City rows to "6". This tells us that a 1-6 result has occurred 2.99% of the time when United has hosted City (2 out of 67, in case you're curious).
These numbers also tell us that the most common score line has been 1-1 (17.91% of the time), which occurred twice as often as 0-0, 1-0, and 3-1 (all 8.96% of the time). You get the idea. Interestingly, 1-6 is not the most unusual score line (0-2, for example, has never happened when United has hosted City).
Since I didn't make it to Old Trafford on Sunday, I didn't have a chance to take any pictures. So for the fun of it all, here's a different way of depicting Sunday's demolition derby, based on the data shown in the table above. Each differently-colored area depicts the frequency of match outcomes for different numbers of goals scored by United. So, for example, the red area shows the frequency of matches (in %, shown on the y-axis) that different score lines happened when United scored 1 goal. The area's size varies by how many goals Manchester City scored. So to find Sunday's result, we need to find the area when United scored one (so it's the red area) and when City scored 6. For that, we need to move all the way out to the right, where you see the 2.99% frequency with which a 1-6 score occurred.
I know: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you're a City supporter, this may be one of the most beautiful pictures you'll see this year. If you're a United fan, you probably think your 5-year old can do better.