Teams that can hit you on the counter attack at any moment are incredibly hard to defend against, especially when speed merchants such as Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott are running at your defence. So which teams have impressed in the counter attack and how have they been so successful?
We can start to answer this by looking at which teams have had the most shots and scored the most goals on the counter attack, as well as which teams have taken the fewest shots to score these counter attacking goals.
To begin with we must take a look at which teams have had the highest percentage of their shots from counter attacks this season.
Shots From Counter Attacks This Season
QPR have taken the highest percentage of their shots on the counter attack in the Premier League this season, as 6.4% of their overall shots have come this way. Arsenal are not far behind Harry Redknapp’s side, as 6.3% of their shots have come on the counter attack.
5.5% of Tottenham’s overall shots have come on the counter this season, while Aston Villa (5%), West Brom (5%) and Manchester City (4.8%) have all utilised the counter attack well in 2012/2013.
Southampton have had the lowest percentage of their overall shots on the counter this season, trailing the rest with only 1.9%. Chelsea (2%), Everton (2.1%) and Newcastle (2.4%) have also had a relatively low amount of shots on the counter attack.
So after looking at which teams have had the most shots on the counter attack in 2012/2013 season we must also look at which teams have scored the highest percentage of their goals via a counter attack.
Goals From Counter Attacks This Season
Aston Villa have scored six goals on the counter this season, which is 14.3% of their overall goals. This is a higher percentage than any other Premier League team, as 10.9% of West Brom’s goals and 10.6% of Arsenal’s goals have come from counter attacks this season, who are second and third respectively.
QPR (10.3%), Tottenham (8.3%), Sunderland (7.7%) and Wigan (7.7%) have all scored a high percentage of their goals on the counter attack this season, while Liverpool, Manchester United, Reading and Norwich have all failed to score at all from a counter attack.
Shots Per Goal On The Counter Attack
We can also take a look at which teams have been the most efficient on the counter attack this season and which teams have taken the fewest shots to score a goal on the counter attack this season.
Manchester United, Liverpool, Reading and Norwich have all failed to score on the counter attack this season so they have not been included in the graph, but out of all the teams that have scored on the counter attack it has taken QPR the most shots to score a goal (10).
It has taken Stoke and Fulham 9 shots to score on the counter attack this season, while it has taken Manchester City 7 and Tottenham 6.6 shots. At the other end of the scale Aston Villa have scored with every 3.3 shots on the counter attack, while Chelsea have scored with every 3.7 shots and Everton have scored with every 4 shots on the counter attack.
A high percentage of QPR’s shots (6.4%) and goals (10.3%) have come from counter attacks this season, but QPR have struggled to convert these chances as they have taken 10 shots on the counter attack to score a goal this season which is the worst strike rate in the Premier League.
This is not surprising as already relegated QPR have struggled for goals, scoring only 29 goals in their 35 games so far this season, averaging only 44.95% possession in these games. They are set up perfectly for the counter attack as they predominately use an off the shoulder striker (Cisse and now Remy) who looks to run in behind the last defender when QPR win the ball back in midfield.
This coupled with the fact that they have Adel Taarabt who is a very direct player that looks to run at the opposition, and fast paced wingers including Hoilett, Wright-Phillips and more recently Townsend,who allow QPR to stretch the play from deeper positions and provide the other attacking players with more space.
So although QPR have utilised the counter attack well this season they again struggled in front of goal. Djribril Cisse has had 7 shots on the counter attack this season, which is an impressive amount of shots considering he has not played in the Premier League in the 2013 half of the season, but has still failed to score with any of these chances. Junior Hoilett has also had 4 shots on the counter attack this season without scoring, while their only saving grace has been Loic Remy who has managed to score twice from 5 shots on the counter attacks this season.
Aston Villa have scored 14.3% of their goals on the counter attack, which is largely down to Andreas Weimann and Christian Benteke who have scored 5 goals from counter attacks between them this season from only 12 shots.
Villa’s lack of possession (45.68%) along with their quick transitions in play and the directness and pace of their attacking players makes it very difficult for opposition defenders to deal with their quick counter attacks. Three of the four attacking players that they have at their disposal move inside on the counter allowing the player with the ball more space, creating an overload in the middle of the pitch in front him. Fabian Delph’s late runs also give the opposition something else to think about when dealing with Aston Villa’s swift attacks.
Arsenal have actually had more shots (35) and scored more goals (7) from counter attacks this season than any other Premier League team. This is down to the mobility they have in the team, with such players as Theo Walcott that help stretch the opposition’s defence when counter attacking from deeper positions.
Theo Walcott has scored 3 goals from counter attacks this season, which is the joint most in the Premier League with Gareth Bale, Andreas Weimann, Eden Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku, while Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott have had 16 shots from counter attacks this season between them.
Arsenal also press high when the opposition have the ball, allowing them to find good penetration and scoring opportunities as they win the ball back much higher up the pitch making it much easier to be able to get a shot on goal from their counter attacks.
Many people have Manchester United down as a very good counter attacking team but neither them nor Liverpool have scored a goal on the counter attack this season, the only two teams in the top half not to do so.
Liverpool have had 23 shots from counter attacks this season without scoring, which may be down to Liverpool’s lack of a on the shoulder striker for most of the season, with Suarez playing mainly as a false number 9. Although, Luis Suarez has had the second highest amount of shots from counter attacks this season (10), he has failed to take any of these chances.
Liverpool’s tiki taka style of play also limits the amount of chances they have to counter attack, as there is a big emphasis on controlling possession and starting from the back. Their tendency to slow the ball down and look for the right pass allows teams to drop back `into position and with the opposition having a small amount of controlled possession in Liverpool’s half there are very limited times when Liverpool can go on the counter attack.
[quote]Manchester United have had 17 shots from counter attacks this season without scoring and have only scored 3 goals from counter attacks since the start of the 2008/2009 season. [/quote]
This may be down teams sitting back when facing the current champions and United’s tendency to control games, with their average possession being 56.3% this season limiting some of their chances to hit the opposition on the counter attack. Manchester United are also very good at keeping possession in the attacking third, forcing teams to drop back and play the long ball out of defence.
They have also lacked a player that will run with the ball this season, with Ashley Young being inured a lot of the season and Nani and Antonio Valencia struggling for form they haven’t been the full flowing Manchester United that everyone has been used to. This has not been a problem however, as with Michael Carrick’s top notch display’s in the middle of the park and Robin Van Persie’s finishing ability Manchester United have been a different animal this season.
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