Fulham v Arsenal: why we should never shout “Shoot!” when a chance arises



For this analysis I’m including Liverpool as well as Arsenal’s opponents tomorrow and introducing the issues of shots and interceptions, as always thanks to WhoScored


Team Shots pg Goals Tackles pg Interceptions pg Fouls pg
Liverpool 11.6 39 16.4 7.8 11.8
Arsenal 8.3 36 16.7 7.7 9.7
Fulham 13.1 26 17.8 11.3 9.8


As we can see Arsenal take far fewer shots than either Liverpool or tomorrow’s opponents, Fulham, and yet are ten goals better off than Fulham and just three goals behind Liverpool.  What this shows is that some teams can and do shoot on sight – but that although this can raise the number of shots, many of those shots are without any chance of scoring.  In short the player just shoots because he can’t see what else to do, not because there is much chance of the ball going in the net.

In fact if we have a look at the top ten shooting teams and see how many goals they have scored what we find is that  Luton Town take 34% more shots than Everton, and yet have scored three goals fewer.

The two clubs that are using shooting on sight effectively to get goals are West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur.   And indeed if we shoot down to the foot of this table we have the two least shooting teams (Arsenal and Manchester City) who are outscoring any of the teams in the list above.

Indeed this table also gives an insight into where Tottenham Hotspur are getting it wrong – they are shooting too often…


Team Shots pg Goals
1. Luton Town 17.7 21
2. Sheffield United 17.4 15
3. West Ham United 16.4 33
4. Bournemouth 15.5 27
5. Manchester United 15.4 21
6. Burnley 14.8 18
7. Wolverhampton W 14.2 27
8. Nottingham Forest 13.8 22
9. Tottenham Hots 13.7 39
10. Everton 13.2 24
19. Arsenal 8.3 36
20. Manchester City 8.0 43


What in fact happens here is that teams that shoot a lot are shooting rather than passing to a player who is in a better position in order to score a goal.   This of course is the sort of thing that is encouraged by TV coverage of matches in which wonderful goals from 40 yards out are highlighted and shortlisted for goal of the month or season.

But what is ignored is that in following this route, an awful lot more goals are not scored because the player is shooting rather than passing.

This revelation leads to an interesting point – clubs that shoot a lot rather than pass to find the perfect moment for the goal to be gained, can get the glory in terms of TV coverage, but the clubs that shoot less (such as Manchester City and Arsenal) will generally get more goals.

Tottenham have had 65% more shots than Arsenal this season but only scored three more goals than Arsenal.   That is an awful lot of shots failing to produce a goal just for three goals – often encouraged by the crowd shouting “Shoot!”

But let’s also consider the defending of these clubs, and add in Tottenham, who seem to be going off on a direction of their own.


Club Tackles Fouls Yellow* Fouls against **
Arsenal 16.7 9.7 1.21 10.7
Fulham 17.8 9.8 1.42 10.3
Tottenham 20.2 11.0 1.68 14.4

*Yellow cards are only those for foul play.

** Number of times players of this team have been fouled by other clubs this season

Arsenal put in fewest tackles, and commit the smallest number of fouls and so get the smallest number of yellows.    The final column of Fouls Against shows that Arsenal and Fulham suffer in the same way – and this is where the Tottenham approach is interesting.  They are tackling much more than Fulham or Arsenal, fouling much more than Fulham or Arsenal, getting more yellows than Fulham or Arsenal and seemingly as a result of this aggressive approach, are being fouled by the opposition much more than Fulham or Arsenal.  In fact Tottenham are being fouled one third more than Arsenal!

We’ll continue with the tackles, fouls and yellows analysis in the next piece.

8 Replies to “Fulham v Arsenal: why we should never shout “Shoot!” when a chance arises”

  1. The logic of reckless shots stats might hold up.That’s a matter of how you interpret them.My own view is when a team comes to the Emirates to “ park the Bus” as Moysey clearly did.You need an alternative option other than sideways passing & trying to thread the ball through the eye of the needle & in particular if you have no target man .
    For me it is either get to the back of the defense with your wingers driving the ball across the box at speed.Or shots,plenty of them in the box.Either can result in a deflection,corner ,own goal or ball falling kindly for a clear opportunity.
    Ferguson used to do this consistently with Man Utd.Lost count the amount of times they’d get a flukey deflection,own goal etc to win a match.
    The ‘ Beautiful goal’ walk the ball in rarely happens.We should try it Le we’re finished.

  2. Frank Lampard made a career out of deflections .
    The phrase that we are looking for relates to buying tickets for raffles .
    Pass by all means if there is a better placed player to score but only if the pass is on .If you over pass the chance gets lost.
    If you can get to the goal line and cross with defenders facing their own goal it’s difficult for you and anything can happen .

  3. Walter

    Exactly. Basically all that was missing was the finishing. It happens. But even when your finishing is a little off, usually creating that many chances and shots results in a goal, even if it’s just a lucky deflection or a mis hit wrong footing the keeper.

    We had 30 shots and I believe set a PL record for touches in the opponents box, and under any normal circumstances that would result in at least 2 goals. If we did that every week we would win the league.

    I just cant go along with this idea that just because it didn’t go for us on the night suddenly Arteta’s tactics are wrong and the players are not good enough.

    If we mimic the possession, touches in the box and shots at goal at Craven Cottage we will win, as we would 90% of the time.

  4. Obviously shooting better will help and so would getting into better positions with more urgency.
    Teams that get ten behind the ball are by their very nature harder to break through.Generally they pack the front of the penalty box and the only space available is wide. Which somewhat supports Pete’s comments about wingers and speed.

  5. Please apply for the job as Arsenal coach as you sound like a genius.

    At least I have an opinion based on football not on a spread sheet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *