EPL Reliance upon Clear-Cut Chances | Opta Stats Analysis

EPL Reliance upon Clear-Cut Chances | Opta Stats Analysis

Premier League strikers are usually judged on their goals scored per games ratio. However, thanks to Opta Stats, we’re now able to take the analysis further by analysing whether these goals were scored by easy chances put on a plate for them by their team’s creative forces. This article will focus on clear-cut chances – not from a point of view of creation but from a striker’s ability to finish or convert a clear-cut opportunity.

Firstly, what is a clear-cut chance? A clear-cut chance is one that is pretty much a free attempt on goal with just the striker and the goalkeeper. For example a one on one situation, a penalty, a free header and so on. Opta’s definition:

A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range.

Using the clear-cut chance scored and missed stats from our Opta Stats Centre (Subscribe for access!) we can analyse which strikers are scoring a higher proportion of these clear-cut chances and which strikers a totally dependent on an easy chance to score goals. For the analysis we’re going to use strikers that have had ten or more clear-cut opportunities on goal. The first table below shows all of the players who have had ten or more clear-cut opportunities in descending order.

Most Chances

Robin van Persie leads the way with 40 clear-cut chances and all of the top six have scored a good amount of goals this season apart from Luis Suarez. Adebayor, Rooney, Aguero and Yakubu make up the top six in terms of opportunities that have fell to them.

Top Converters

Frank Lampard is the best in the Premier League when it comes to converting clear-cut opportunities, converting nine out of eleven or 82% of opportunities that come his way. Striker from relegated Wolves, Steven Fletcher, is converting 70% of clear-cut chances that are presented to him – a truly impressive figure (surely he’s in the shop window this summer?).

In-form striker Papiss Cisse is third on the list converting 62% whilst Wayne Rooney, Demba Ba, Yakubu, Dzeko and Hernandez are all at 50% or above when converting these chances and all higher than the 39% average.

Top strikers Robin van Persie and Sergio Aguero have converted 45% and 48% respectively – one shudders to think how many these two could have had if they had put away more of their easy chances.

Poor Conversion

The first name that comes to mind is Luis Suarez – instantly we can see that Luis Suarez has had the sixth highest clear-cut opportunities (26) but has only scored with 28% of them, a poor return that has severely cost Liverpool in a season where they have lacked a lot of goals. This isn’t the lowest figure in the league as Dirk Kuyt and Nicklas Bendtner both share that title with only an 18% conversion, once again a Liverpool player is involved demonstrating further that their issues certainly lie here.

Other notable players that don’t finish the clear-cut chances very well are Andy Carroll (surprise, surprise again from Liverpool) on 21%, Gervinho on 23%, Defoe & Bale on 25% and then Peter Crouch and Grant Holt are on 29%. These are all way below the league average of 39% (all players who have had any clear-cut opportunities on goal).

Next Page: Which strikers rely on Clear-Cut opportunities? Do they score any goals apart from those put on a plate for them?

Over Reliance on Clear-cut Opportunities

Thanks to the statistics available from Opta we’re able to analyse whether players are reliant on clear-cut opportunities being made for them. The table on the left shows players that have had ten or more clear-cut opportunities to score. We’ve made a calculation of their overall goals and what percentage of these are from the clear-cut chance scored statistic.

As shown all of Adebayor’s 13 goals are from clear-cut opportunities indicating a reliance on a chance being created for him to score. The same applies to Darren Bent and Dirk Kuyt. This can also show that these players aren’t the types to create a goal for themselves or out of nothing for their side or even finish off a difficult chance that comes their way.

You have to go far down the list to find the top scorers in the list with Robin van Persie at 16th (67%), Wayne Rooney at 18th (65%) and Sergio Aguero down in 25th on a 59% reliance on easy chances. A clear indication that these players are able to to score the more difficult chances or even create their own. These players would have scored a variety of goals; scoring from outside the area or finishing difficult chances with volleyed goals or tight angle finishes.

Looking at the bottom of the list; Bendtner, Defoe (usually scores long-range efforts) & Holt (usually scores difficult headers) only have a total of 30% of their goals coming from a clear-cut opportunity – that’s pretty impressive however their conversion rates of their clear-cut chances are below the league average so they could have scored a lot more goals this season.

Looking at Luis Suarez, who is in the top six in the league for clear-cut opportunities falling to him – it is clear that his goal tally is dependent on the clear-cut opportunities as 87.5% of his goals have come from these. He could have himself three more goals if he was at the league average conversion rate of 39%. To go a step further had he matched Wayne Rooney’s conversion rate of 59% he’d have a total of 15 goals from clear-cut opportunities and doubled his tally in the league this season and won Liverpool many more points maybe even pushing them closer to the Champions League spots. The same could be applied to other Liverpool forwards: Andy Carroll and Dirk Kuyt both of whom have a lower conversion rate than Luis Suarez.


Demba Ba and Sergio Aguero impress the most here. They’ve scored a lot of goals and they’re not over-reliant on easier chances with dependencies on goals from clear-cut opportunities coming in at less than 60% and both converting 56% and 48% of their easier opportunities, respectively as well as both above the league average.

The analysis also shows that there are players who will convert a high percentage of their easier opportunities (Lampard, Fletcher & Papiss Cisse) but also showed players that could have helped their clubs’ position in the league had they converted their easy chances (mainly Liverpool strikers!). The stats also show dependancies on goals from these easy chances for players like Adebayor, Bent and Kuyt.

If you think we’ve missed anything or can share any further analysis from the stats displayed please do leave a comment below.

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