Attack breakdowns: Premier League, 1 Oct 2017

With another international break upon us I wanted to take a quick look at some Premier League stats. Something I’ve just switched back on for the EFL – and is borderline useful at this early stage of the season – is the club-by-club attack breakdowns. These are explained in detail here, but in summary they are simple scatter graphics that work as follows:


Each graphic shows a club’s main attacking players: those who have:

  1. Featured for at least a third of their total pitch minutes in the league this season, and
  2. Taken an average of at least one shot per game.

The size of each player’s bubble is proportional to the percentage of possible minutes that they’ve played.

Each player’s bubble is plotted on a chart with the two axes working like this:

  • On the horizontal axis we have their goal threat, based on the “expected goals” value of shots taken per 90 minutes. This is effectively a measure of the combined quality of their goalscoring chances.
  • On the vertical axis we have their scoring rate, using a less abstract measure of actual number of goals scored per 90 minutes.

Both axes exclude penalties, as those can massively skew a player’s contribution away from the threat they pose from open play.

There’s a shaded “stripe” which indicates the long-term shot conversion rate of all finishers except the top and bottom 10%, so we can identify those whose performance may be unsustainable (i.e. unlikely to be repeated next season). If a player is above the stripe, they’re converting chances at a rate consistent with someone in the top 10% of finishers, and likewise a player below the line is in the worst 10%. Based on what we know about the specific player, we can therefore take a view on whether we expect their scoring rate to continue.

Club-by-club graphics

The usual suspects are setting the standard. Alvaro Morata and Sergio Aguero have been scoring at a prodigious rate – better than a goal every 90 minutes – but, given that the chances they’ve had would yield far fewer goals for the average player, I suspect they’ll cool off a bit as the season wears on.

Harry Kane is (perhaps unsurprisingly) Tottenham’s most potent threat by quite some distance and his output looks far more sustainable. The same can be said for Joselu at Newcastle, who could be scoring even more frequently by the looks of it.

While Kane and Morata dominate their clubs’ attacks, Man City and Liverpool seem to have multiple attacking options, so Sergio Aguero’s absence probably won’t affect the former’s goalscoring all that much.

Two clubs whose graphics require a bit of explanation are Crystal Palace (whose players all sit at the bottom of the graph as they haven’t scored yet) and Swansea, who only have one player – Tammy Abraham – on theirs. The reason the Swans’ is so bare is due to no player besides Abraham having registered at least one shot per 90 minutes: Leroy Fer and Jordan Ayew come closest, but neither has offered much of a threat. Another absentee is Wilfried Bony, who hasn’t played enough minutes yet to make the cut.