Premier League attack & defence update

The lull created by the international break is as good an opportunity as any to crank out some updated attack and defence scatter graphics for the major European leagues, looking here at the Premier League.

There are two graphics: the first showing attacking performance and the second defensive performance. Both are based on simple shot data and give a high-level view of how each club is doing relative to the others, with the axes centred on the divisional average. You can click on a graphic to bring up a full-sized version in a new tab.


Looking first at attacking, the average number of shots taken per match is on the horizontal axis and the average number of shots needed to score each goal is on the vertical. Therefore bottom right is good (taking lots of shots and needing fewer efforts to convert) and top left is bad:PL Att Eff 2015-03-28

  • Their title defence may appear doomed, but for Man City it’s not because they haven’t been trying – they’ve fired in over two additional shots per match than anyone else. However five sides – chief amongst them leaders Chelsea – have been more clinical in front of goal.
  • In the opposite corner, Aston Villa‘s improvements under Tim Sherwood still haven’t outweighed their earlier goal-shyness. Only Sunderland have created fewer chances and they’ve needed six more efforts to score each goal than the average side.
  • An honourable mention for QPR, who have taken more shots than all but four other sides – unfortunately only Villa have been more wasteful.

Now let’s look at the defensive situation – basically take the above chart and replace the word “taken” for “faced” on both axes. Now top left is good – facing fewer shots and able to soak up more per goal conceded – and bottom right is bad:PL Def Eff 2015-03-28

  • They may have gone off the boil lately, but Southampton still boast the division’s best overall defensive record: allowing fewer chances than anyone else and requiring the most efforts on average to be breached.
  • By comparison, Sunderland have faced more than 6 extra shots at their goal per match and Newcastle have withstood just over half as many efforts for each goal conceded.
  • West Ham were always likely to struggle to stay in the hunt for European football given how many shots they face – the fifth highest – even if their defence has been the third most resilient.