Season update: Premier League, 23 Dec 2015

Ahead of the busy festive schedule, I thought that it was a good time to take another look at how each of the Premier League clubs are performing using my scatter graphics. These are explained here if you haven’t seen them before.

Shot dominance

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:

PL att def 2015-12-22

The two Manchester clubs have allowed almost identically few shots against them this season, but they’re poles apart up front. Man City have taken around six additional shots per match than Man Utd, with only five clubs troubling goalkeepers less frequently than the latter.

Despite their disappointing season, Liverpool have still tended to dominate matches this season, so perhaps there isn’t too much for Jurgen Klopp to fix.

Newcastle and West Brom look to have spent much of the season on the back foot this season, so it will be interesting to see whether they can remain clear of the relegation battle.

They may be flying high in sixth, but Crystal Palace have allowed more shots at their goal than anyone else. We’ll see how they’ve managed to stay in the top half a bit later on.

Attacking effectiveness

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:

PL att eff 2015-12-22

Leicester‘s table-topping performance owes much to their attack, which has been the division’s most clinical so far; marginally more efficient than Everton‘s.

Both have been around twice as sharp as struggling Swansea‘s – the top flight’s most wasteful – despite taking a relatively similar number of shots at goal.

Three of the division’s most notably underachieving sides – Chelsea, Liverpool and Southampton – have all struggled to convert their chances this season, despite creating a healthy amount of them.

While West Brom and Newcastle don’t fashion many attempts at goal, they have both been better than average at converting them.

Defensive effectiveness

Next 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 2015-12-22

We saw in the first graphic that Crystal Palace allow plenty of shots and we can see here that they – along with Stoke – have been incredibly effective at repelling them. It will be interesting to see whether they can sustain this over the entire season.

For a newly-promoted side, Bournemouth have allowed opponents impressively few shots – the fourth lowest total – but have found it incredibly difficult to keep them out. The average Premier League defence has soaked up an additional four efforts for each goal conceded.

While Man Utd and Man City – and also Liverpool – have allowed a similarly low number of attempts at their goal, the latter two have been no match for United at keeping them out.

Expected goals

Finally here’s an attempt at correcting the first graphic for the quality of chances created and allowed, using the same “expected goals” values that power my shot timelines (explained here). The reason for doing this is that the results tend to correlate more strongly with performance than when we treat all shots equally.

This won’t give as sophisticated results as some of the other Premier League expected goals models (which use more sophisticated levels of data), but hopefully it won’t be wildly different.

PL exp 2015-12-22

The current two title favourites – Man City and Arsenal – look to be streets ahead of the competition here. While a handful of other sides are operating similarly prohibitive defences, none of these can simultaneously emulate their attacking performances.

We can see that Leicester are operating the next scariest attack (in terms of chance creation at least) but look relatively ordinary defensively. Therefore if their title charge does fizzle out it looks more likely that their defence will have let them down than their attack.

Despite allowing so many shots, the sum total of chances allowed by Crystal Palace looks relatively ordinary, suggesting that many of their opponents’ efforts have been from poor positions. A glance at the stats show that they have seen the division’s third highest percentage of shots from outside their penalty area (47%), have seen the lowest percentage of shots on target (24%) and have blocked the highest percentage of shots (35%), which all suggest an unusually focused defence.