Last weekend, after Arsenal lost against QPR, many Gooners might have shared a wistful moment reminiscing the chance Robin van Persie missed. Those who don the blue of Chelsea probably look back at this Torres miss early in the season and wonder if everything would have been different had that gone in and led to a comeback against United. The Kop faithful will undoubtedly feel their side can win any argument regarding missed opportunities. Indeed, almost every single football fan, irrespective of the club they support and their position in the League, must have had a Redknappesque “my old woman could have scored that” moment at least once during this season.
There are few moments in a game more frustrating than a player missing a gilt-edged opportunity. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough fact-based analysis of such incidents and usually just have to go with clichéd opinions from commentators like, “You’d have put your money on him scoring that”, or “That’s a rare miss from [player name]“, and so on. It’s probably one of the reasons why many fans find football punditry hard to digest.
To an extent we can’t blame anyone because there just aren’t enough facts available as far as clear-cut chances are concerned. There are so many variables involved that it would be hard to find a concise and practical definition that pleases everyone.
One would have to look at so many factors when analysing a clear-cut chance (CCC):
Opta do provide numbers for clear-cut chances created and converted. In their own words this is one of the “subjective stats” that they offer. Since the definition is not, er, clear-cut, we probably cannot form any definitive opinions but assuming consistency on the part of those recording the stats, maybe one can attempt to create an engrossing discussion on the subject.
Please note that the stats used in this article were compiled prior to the weekend’s fixtures and only include numbers from the first 30 matches.
Let’s start with total clear-cut chances created and converted by each team and their relationship with total goals scored. In the figure below, the blue line represents total gilt-edged chances created by each team while the red one charts the number of these chances that were converted. Total goals scored by a team is in green.
With a single glance it is apparent that these curves are very similar. Most of us, even without any statistical background, can guess there must be strong correlation between the numbers.
The peaks represent sides that are creating and scoring the most. Few will be surprised that the current top four are, in the same order, creating and converting the most clear-cut chances. United, City, Arsenal, and Spurs also form the top four in total goals scored.
At the other end of the table it’s not so simple. For instance, if you look at the last team on the right, Wolves show a steep bump in the red curve indicating a high conversion rate, but not so much in the other two meaning they aren’t creating as many chances or scoring many goals in general.
The other stand-out observations from the graph are,
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