15 March 2018
As we enter the final quarter of the Premier League season, now is a good a time as any to analyse some of the huge raft of data which is available, the topic this time around will be shot conversion rates. Here we can look at just who is creating the most chances in the division, but more importantly are they putting them to good use?.
The data that will be used comes courtesy of the whoscored.com website and first up here is a table of the amount of shots the 20 Premier League teams have had this season (correct up to the end of Week 30)
|West Bromwich Albion||294|
It probably comes as no great surprise that the runaway league leaders Manchester City are top, although this chart sees them lie a lot closer to the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham. With only nine shots separating the top three teams in this list.
The ‘Big Six’ fill out the top half dozen places in the list, something you would expect to see although where it starts to get interesting is the fact that both Crystal Palace and Southampton who are struggling to beat the drop lie 7th and 8th in the total shots for the season chart.
This indicates that they are creating chances, but their current respective league positions would suggest that they are lacking ruthlessness when it matters. This is something to expand on later but first let’s list the Premier League table after Week 30, showing how many shots a team has per game.
|Team||Goals||Shots pg||Shots||League Pos|
|West Bromwich Albion||23||9.8||294||20|
As you can see here there is not necessarily a positive correlation between a team’s placing in the Premier League table and the amount of shots they have had. If there was to be a direct link between the two then the amount of shots or shots per game would then be listed in descending order.
Only this is obviously not the case as the list starts of with a perfect match as Manchester City both top the table and the total shots list but from there it is jumbled from top to the bottom. City’s crosstown rivals Manchester United may well lie second in the table but they have only had the sixth highest amount of total shots so far this season.
What we can do though is list those 20 teams in a different order, that being by their shot conversion rate. This will give us a clear indication as to who is over or under performing in front of goal this season.
|Team||Goals||Shots pg||Shots||Conv||League Pos|
|West Bromwich Albion||23||9.8||294||7.82%||20|
Again, if we were to assume a hypothesis, we would say that the teams that are higher in the table would have a better shot conversion percentage rate. Looking at the column ‘League Pos’ that again should run from 1 down to 2 but again you can see this is simply not the case.
What does the list above tell us, well it tells that both Manchester clubs are prolific in front of goal, City are blowing everyone out of their way as the edge closer and closer to the Premier League title and a lot of is to do with the ease in which they find the net.
While Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, may well have more of a pragmatic setup but they are still scoring 1 goal for every 7 shots that they have taken this season, and as we can see the top two teams in the league also have the best shot conversion rates.
But what about that of Tottenham who lie third before going into their F.A. Cup Quarter-final clash with Swansea, with Harry Kane in their ranks they have someone who poses an obvious goal threat, something his 24 goals in the top flight this season will attest to.
However, when we look at the North London outfit’s ruthlessness in front of goal, we can see that they are only the eighth most efficient team in the Premier League during this campaign. Something that indicates that while they certainly create a lot they don’t quite have the ruthlessness required in the final third.
You could argue that with a better shot conversion rate they would find themselves even closer to Manchester United, maybe even closer to that of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. For example, where City are scoring one shot in six this season it is nearer one in nine for Tottenham, is this the stark difference as to why one team will win the title and the other will not?
If we look at the top four teams in the shot conversion table above, we can see that three of the top four clubs match their current Premier League standing. However, there is one obvious anomaly that being Leicester.
They are third the best team in the division when it comes to shot conversion, the school of thought here is that they obviously don’t create as much as the teams above them but the chances they do make they have a tendency not to waste.
For all of Leicester’s goal scoring prowess this season, they have been let down by their somewhat porous back line. Had they been more watertight then there would be less of a variance between where they lie in the Premier League and where they lie in terms of shot conversion.
We can also map the variance of all the 20 teams in the division, here we can list the two rankings side by side to paint a better picture.
|West Bromwich Albion||20||19||1|
There is one team that clearly stands out from the rest on this list, that being West Ham. You can see there is a variance of 11 places between where they currently sit in the Premier League and where they list in terms of shot conversion.
If we touched on the example that Leicester may well be efficient in front of goal but are let down by their defence then this would be an even greater example of that. David Moyes’ men have created the third least chances in the division this season.
Of the chances they create though, they manage to net one in eight. The reason there is such a difference in the two metrics is due to that although the Hammers lie 16th at the time of writing they have scored the most goals of all the sides in the bottom half of the table.
If we look at the above graphs we can see who the real winners and losers are when it comes to shot conversion versus league places. We’ve already touched on West Ham and Leicester and the reason for high variance can be explained by a simple fact. Teams that have scored many but have poor defences.
We’ve already applied that logic to the Hammers and the Foxes and it is something that you could easily apply to both Stoke and Everton this season. Stoke have the worst defensive record in the division while Everton have the worst defensive record in the top half.
However, they are not necessarily the worst teams when it comes to effectiveness in the final third, therefore their shot conversion rates are high even if their relative league placings are not. There are seven teams that have a positive swing between shot conversion and league placing with four of those currently in the bottom half of the table.
What is more impressive for Everton is the fact that they have created the second least chances in the division this season, although they are something of wild card after such a poor start to the season. Now that Sam Allardyce has come in and steadied the ship they are at least looking healthier over the past few months.
If they are the big winners, what about the big losers. We already referenced Tottenham earlier on and their slight profligacy in front of goal. This is reflected by the fact that their shot conversion is five places lower than their league placing.
Something which is matched by Chelsea, although you could argue that their plight is even worse, due to the fact they lie 5th in the Premier League table but only 10th in terms of shot conversion. Antonio Conte’s men have created the fifth highest amount of shots this season but are not matching the attacking prowess that helped them deliver the title last time around.
The fact that they have lost their cutting edge means they are now struggling to finish in the top four and return to the Champions League next season, while they may well have to make do with the Europa League in 2018/19.
Something that Burnley may well also be a part of thanks to their current 7th place league position, however when you look at all the metrics connected to Sean Dyche’s club it is almost something of a miracle that this is the case.
They are the fourth lowest goal scorers in the whole of the Premier League, although they lie 15th in the list for total shots created. However, even with a small numerical base to work with they are still not all that productive in the final third.
That does not seem to matter all that much though, the reason being that they have a watertight defence. Where the likes of Leicester and West Ham found themselves with a strong positive variance this was negated by their leaky defences.
With Burnley though, the opposite rings true. The fact that they have the fourth best defence means that if you can keep clean sheets first and foremost, then you can just about get away with lacking ruthlessness in front of goal.
Two teams that certainly have a blunt edge this season are Crystal Palace and Southampton, they were referenced at the start due to the fact they have created the 7th and 8th highest amount of total shots respectively.
But for all their attacking endeavour they have failed to put so many of those chances to good use, this is further highlighted when you look at their shot conversion records. Roy Hodgson’s men have the worst shot conversion in the league, while Southampton have the third worst.
Therefore, at the time of writing it comes as no coincidence that the two sides are 18th and 17th in the Premier League table respectively. These two clubs are the perfect examples of being able to create a whole host of chances but being punished for not taking them.
Not only that but even after their low league placing they still have a negative variance in the graph above us, so as low as they are in the table their efforts in front of goal have been even worse and this will be a huge concern going into the final weeks of the season.
How do West Brom fare when it comes to goals vs chances? They are 16th when it comes to shots created but at the foot of the table when it comes to points. A long way off it must also be said, therefore there must be something of a disconnect.
That of course being the fact that they have had real trouble finding the net this season, the table does not lie and the fact that they have only scored 23 goals this season – an average of 0.77 per game will explain just why they have been cast adrift.
One small crumb of comfort is the fact that they do not have the worst shot conversion record in the Premier League this season, as we know that unwanted record goes to Crystal Palace, but the Baggies have only been given a brief respite as they sit 19th in that particular list.
An interesting theory to run with would be whether the three teams with the worst shot conversion rates at the time of writing are the ones that will be relegated in May. If that was to run true then unfortunately it would not be good news for Southampton, West Brom or Crystal Palace fans.
Whether this runs true or not, I guess we will all have to wait and see. However, when the season does reach its climax then it will be very interesting as to whether the three teams with the worst shot conversation did fail to beat the drop or not.
After reading this, it should go some way to proving that it’s not necessarily how much you have of the ball but what you do with it. For the likes of the Manchester duo they are showing that ruthlessness really pays off while for clubs such as Crystal Palace and Southampton it only highlights the stark reality of the trouble not having a hitman can cause.