Season so far: Premier League, 4 Oct 2015
Eight matches played in the Premier League is just about enough to justify cranking the shot data through my scatter graphics to compare how each club is doing. These are explained here if you haven’t seen them before.
First of all, here is how the number of shots taken by each club compares with those they face in return. The average number of shots taken per match is on the horizontal and the average number faced is on the vertical, so bottom right (take plenty, allow few in return) is good while top left (take few, allow plenty) is bad:
In the opposite corner we can see the top flight’s two North East clubs – Newcastle and Sunderland – have spent much of the season on the back foot: they rank first and second for fewest shots taken and most shots faced.
It’s surprising to see Man Utd closest to Bournemouth on this graphic: both have taken a very modest number of shots but excelled at preventing their opponents from shooting.
Now let’s look at attacking alone. The horizontal axis stays the same as in the graphic above, but now the vertical shows the average number of shots needed to score each league goal. Therefore bottom right is good (taking lots of shots and needing fewer efforts to convert) and top left is bad:
Despite their clinical performances in the Championship last season, Watford have struggled to convert their chances so far. It’s taken them an average of 17 attempts to score each of their goals so far: almost three times more than the most clinical side, West Ham.
Arsenal are the only club to have created anywhere near as many chances as Man City but have struggled to make them count: before their 3-0 win today they were sitting roughly in line with Liverpool – the division’s second most profligate side – on this graphic.
We can see that the strong starts enjoyed by both Leicester and West Ham owe more to some excellent (and possibly unsustainable) shot conversion rather than “gung ho” attacking performances.
Finally 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:
Crystal Palace‘s defence is performing heroics so far: they’ve faced over 17 shots per match but have withstood almost 20 for each goal conceded. I strongly doubt that they can keep that up for a whole season given that the most formidable defence last season soaked up an average of around 13.
Chelsea have gone from having the most resilient defence last season to the most porous so far this time around – it has taken almost exactly half as many shots to score each goal against them.