Statistical Comparison of the Premier League Top 7’s Defences

Statistical Comparison of the Premier League Top 7’s Defences


EPLIndex subscriber Mikkel Toft Petersen writes for the first time on the site with an interesting analysis of the defences in the Top 7 of the Premier League. (The analysis was written before the last set of fixtures in the Premier League.)

This article will compare the best seven teams in the Premier League on basis of their defensive performances. My interest in doing this analysis consisted in that I found Arsenal’s defensive errors remarkable and in this context, I will analyse how each team’s defence could help explain their league position. Therefore, I will now try to investigate which factors that could help explain the team’s league position.

defence analysis

What first strikes my mind is that Arsenal and Tottenham have the highest Ground 50-50’s Win %, but what is really exciting is that Tottenham is the only team, who have under 50% in Aerial 50-50 Win %. The number is significantly behind the other top clubs. However, no other conclusion needs to be drawn when looking upon these numbers.

Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham have the highest amount of successful last man tackles. This could show a tendency to lose the ball more often than their opponent. What caught my attention is the high amount of successful last man tackles by Arsenal, this could either show effective defensive display or rather that their defence is under more pressure than others. Tottenham has the most interceptions and at the same time they have only been dribbling past 129, only Manchester City has been dribbled past fever times.

Defensive Errors comparison

Now I want to investigate the defensive errors and how they may explain some of the goals conceded. As seen from the table, defensive errors can have a massive impact on goals conceded. From the possession stats I see a positive correlation between possession and defensive errors lead to goals. Also, Dangerous play seems to correlate positive with those two factors. However, that could be used to explain that having a great amount of possession means your defence is vulnerable. But this does not mean you have a bad defence.

Look at Manchester City, they have a great amount of possession and 6 defensive errors that lead to goal. Manchester City though has the least goals conceded (21) despite being vulnerable to counterattack. This somehow implies that their defence is somehow solid. What this analysis also shows is that Arsenal and Liverpool have some defensive problems which may be due to much pressure or lack of concentration. From this we could say that if the defence of Arsenal and Liverpool were as solid as Manchester City, they would be fairly more competitive.

Conceded goals due to errors

From this graph we see the influence of defensive errors on goals conceded. As seen from this graph, defensive errors have a major impact on goals conceded. Chelsea though stands out, as they only concede 11% of their goals due to defensive errors. Arsenal on the other hand seems to lack concentration in their defensive display as they concede 44,8 % of their goals due to defensive errors.

Goalkeeper Analysis

goalkeeping analysis

In this part of my analysis I would like to see if the goalkeeper has an influence on goals conceded. But also, this could further explain the defensive performance. When comparing these figures I find it interesting to study Tottenham. From the analysis above I found no indications that Tottenham was one of the best defences in the league, but the numbers from this table somehow shows that Tottenham have the fewest shots against them both in terms of total shots and shots on target.

Only Manchester City has fewer goalkeeper saves than Tottenham. Is Tottenham unlucky? Difficult question to answer, but they have the highest chance conversion against them (16%) where Manchester City only has (12%). Could this also explain why Everton is in the top 7? Again, difficult to answer but they have the same chance conversion against them as Manchester City.  What amazes me is that Arsenal and Tottenham have conceded an equal number of goals and this is even though Arsenal has many more errors that led to goals while also having more shots on target. This analysis somehow cannot explain this phenomenon, but it raises an interesting discussion.

Manchester United has had some defensive trouble this season and these figures also demonstrate that they have the highest number of shots against them. To explain why Manchester United is at the top of the table and not Manchester City we need to look at the attack, which lies beyond what will be analyzed in this analysis.


First let me start by saying that this analysis should not be considered to be the answer to who is the best and worst teams in the Premier League. Rather, I have tried to explain the trends underlying the defence of the top 7 Premier League teams.
However, many conclusions need to be drawn from this analysis. Manchester City, who has conceded the lowest amount of goals must be considered to have the best defence in Premier League. This was shown because they significantly differentiated themselves from the other teams who had high possession.

Despite the fact that they concede the third highest amount of goals compared to the other teams, their defence somehow concede the fewest goals in total. What surprises me the most in this analysis is the defensive display of Tottenham. The second part of my analysis showed that Tottenham has the fewest shots against them, both in terms of total shots and shots on target. However, they conceded as many goals as Arsenal. Arsenal has the highest amount of goals conceded due to defensive errors compared to the rest. Liverpool does have the same trends as the Arsenal defence by having many defensive errors and dangerous plays. What my analysis showed in that perspective was that high possession makes your defence vulnerable.

From my observations Manchester United also needs to be considered when talking about worst defence in the top 7. They conceded the second highest amount of goals and have had the most shots against them. However, they have not made as many mistakes as Arsenal and Liverpool.

This leads me to the conclusion of who has the best defence in the Premier League: Manchester City and surprisingly Tottenham as runner up. In the bottom half is Arsenal and Liverpool which currently must be considered to have the worst defences at the top of Premier League.

I hope you found my analysis useful and if you disagree/agree with my analysis, please share your thoughts, since I am open to feedback.

All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.comSubscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.