Premier League Goal Scoring Patterns

Premier League Goal Scoring Patterns

Our statistical expert Ford Bohrmann analyses Premier League goal scoring patterns by looking at which areas of the goal teams score in. The article focuses on every Premier League side and then also covers their conversion percentages with the use of graphics.

The original idea for this post came from a question from one of the readers of my blog. He was curious to know if there were any patterns to where clubs score in the plane of the goal. In other words, where do clubs tend to score their goals? For example, maybe team x tends to score their goals in the upper right hand corner of the goal, whereas team y scores their goals in the lower center portion of the goal. EPL Index provides us with the data on where clubs have scored goals, and also where they have taken shots. For this, the goal is divided in to 6 sections: the upper right, upper left, upper center, lower right, lower left, and lower center.

I divide this post up in to two parts: First, I look at where teams tend to score their goals. In other words, in what section of the goal do they tend to finish? Second, I look at, if a team directs a shot towards a certain portion of the goal, what is the likelihood that it ends up in the back of the net? In other words, what is a team’s shooting percentage towards a specific section of the goal if we divide the goal in to the 6 portions described above? This information can provide valuable insights in to how clubs tend to score (or not). It is easy to see that this is valuable information for a club to better understand both themselves and their opponents. More specifically, this analysis is able to highlight and contrast City’s clinical finishing this season with Liverpool’s lackluster ability to finish.

Rather than just listing percentages and data in a boring chart, I have created images that represent each club’s scoring percentage data. As you will see below, each club has a goal divided in to the 6 parts mentioned above. The shading of each section represents the club’s percentage in that area. A completely white box indicates 0%, while a completely black box indicates 100%. Similarly, a dark grey box indicates a higher percentage compared to a lighter grey box.

Where Do Teams Tend to Score?

This first question is pretty easy to explain. What percentage of a club’s goals are scored in a certain area of the net? This question answers, such as, what percentage of Sunderland’s goals are scored in the upper right hand corner of the net. To put all of this information in context, below is the EPL average chart. This chart is probably not much of a surprise. Most goals are scored in the lower right and left areas of the net. Additionally, not many goals are scored in the upper area of the net. These statements make intuitive sense.

Now we can compare the averages to each specific club’s images. Below is a large image that displays each club’s goal scoring percentages. I have also included the EPL average again for reference.

The image is pretty rich with data, but gives you an intuitive sense of where clubs tend to score. Here are some interesting notes on the image:

  • Swansea has scored most of their goals in the bottom right corner of the net, whereas Everton has scored most of their goals in the bottom left corner of the net
  • Manchester City and Liverpool both mirror the EPL average pretty closely, while QPR has an almost even distribution of goals between all sections of the net.
  • Strangely, Wigan scores most of its goals in the upper right hand corner of the net.
  • Stoke City has scored almost none of its goals in the two upper corners of the net.

At this point, you are probably thinking what I was thinking after I created this chart: What importance does this have? This is a good question. Comparing this data does not give us incredible insights to how a club plays, or offer some groundbreaking information. At the very least, it gives some interesting information for us to look at. At its best, it might show where their top strikers tend to shoot the ball, valuable insight for a goalkeeper or defender.

More Specific Conversion Percentage

The next direction I went with this data was to look at conversion percentage, divided in to these 6 areas of the goal. The normal conversion percentage statistic just measures overall conversion percentage. To be even more informative, I was able to individualize conversion percentage in to each area of the goal. This data can answer a question like, when Aston Villa shoots the ball towards the upper center of the net, how often does it go in? I think this analysis is much more informative and interesting than the one done above, because it can specify exactly where a team struggles or excels in converting shots in to goals. Again, I included the EPL average image below. Again, the image makes intuitive sense. The highest percentage shots (shots most likely to end up in the back of the net) are the ones directed towards the upper left and right corners. The lowest percentage shot is the one directed towards the bottom center. To any reader, this should not be surprising.

Below I have included the images for each specific club’s conversion percentage to each area of the goal. Like above, I included the EPL average again for reference and comparison.

Here are some very interesting points to be taken away from the graph:

  • Not surprisingly, City is the most clinical team, highlighted by the overall darkness of their goal image. Besides the lower center of the goal, they tend to score a very high percentage of their shots, no matter where the shot is directed.
  • On the other hand, Liverpool and Bolton stick out as being very poor at converting shots. This is most intriguing to me for Liverpool, as it really highlights their poor conversion rates this year. Even when they are able to direct shots towards the upper right and left areas of the goal (the areas with the highest likelihood of the ball going in), they score at low rates. This really highlights Liverpool’s struggles so far this year.
  • Arsenal is another very clinical team. This may not be a surprise with van Persie leading the scoring for them, but their conversion rates are solid in all areas of the goal.
  • A final big surprise (at least to me), is Blackburn’s clinical finishing abilities. They have actually scored 37 goals so far, higher than other clubs near them in the table. Much of this success is due to their ability to finish a high percentage of their shots, specifically in the upper right and lower left portions of the goal as the chart shows.

Conclusion

Overall, there is probably much more information to take from these two charts, as they are so rich with data. I am sure readers can point out more insights than I overlooked. While usually the charts give information that one may think to be intuitive, a lot of the times they provide interesting insights in to a club’s scoring performance. The next step for this type of analysis, which I am interested in looking in to, is to do the same thing but for goalkeepers. In other words, answer the question asking, where do keepers struggle to make saves? This could be valuable information for a forward to know when facing a specific keeper. Stay tuned to EPLIndex.com for more analysis from me in the future.

 

All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.comSubscribe Now (Includes a author privileges!) See Demo’s and videos about the Stats Centre & read about new additions to the stats centre.