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
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…
|1. Luton Town
|2. Sheffield United
|3. West Ham United
|5. Manchester United
|7. Wolverhampton W
|8. Nottingham Forest
|9. Tottenham Hots
|20. Manchester City
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.
|Fouls against **
*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.
- Is the Premier League getting more exciting or simply ever more predictable?
- How far down might these points deducations take clubs?
- Big clubs that foul less lose fewer players of their own to injury
- What takes clubs up and down the league: attack or defence?
- Referee Extremism: the situation in Spain and in England