Shooting when inside the penalty area is probably a good thing



arousing curiosity or interest; holding or catching the attention.

I am filing this under something that I found interesting and didn’t quite have room for on social media. It’s far from an exact science, and I don’t think I’m even presenting this with any sort of attempted analysis but I thought it was worth sharing.

It of course stands to reason that the more a team shoots from inside the opposition area (closer to goal) and can stop their opponent from doing so in their own penalty box (force them further from goal) – they are likely to do well over a league season and win plenty of points; and the suggestion from the numbers backs that up.

Hopefully I just about stayed far enough away from trying to actually draw conclusions on the entirely complex game of football with just one data point, and used the suitably fence-sitting term of “suggestion” to cover myself at the right times.

A couple of things to note: In all of the tables I’ve highlighted the top three and bottom teams in each division as well as the top three and bottom three values in each column. All shots on target, shots off target and blocked shots – as defined by Opta – are included in the Total Attempts figure. All data was correct as of Friday 6th January 2017.

English Premier League


The top six in the Premier League table are the top six for Total Attempts in the Area and the best six performers when it comes to Total Attempts Conceded in the Area, which means my theory clears the first hurdle with flying colours.

I was also slightly startled to notice that only 50.41% of Tottenham’s attempts have come inside the area though that may not be overly significant as we move through the other Big Five leagues (especially with West Ham and Hull City only 5% behind).

Do Burnley owe a lot of their recent fortune to Tom Heaton? Probably, though the fact that only 52% of their total attempts conceded have come in their own area would suggest a relative confidence in their defensive structure. Manchester United and Liverpool have both struggled to break down Sean Dyche’s team this season in high-profile games with Burnley’s 2-0 win over Liverpool earlier in the season seeing the club allow the Reds 26 attempts on goal. Handily for them 17 of the 26 came from outside the area.

As for the 0-0 draw against Manchester United, Burnley conceded 38 attempts on goals (with 21 coming from inside the area). Though as this excellent video from Every Team Needs A Ron highlights, United’s attempts were generally poor – even when they were in the area.


French Ligue 1


That initial surprise at Tottenham’s ratio of shooting in the area is now completely gone as I spy two Ligue 1 clubs who have so far this season attempted more efforts on goal from outside the area than inside.

Three of the top four in the league make up the top three performers of Total Attempts in the Area with the hugely overachieving Nice appearing to be an outlier (a firmer demonstration of their over achievement can be found in experimental361’s brilliant scattergraphs).


German Bundesliga


Top two leading the way in both tables, and three of the bottom four in the league having conceded the most shots in the penalty area are the immediate takeaways from the Bundesliga data.

What I’ve sparingly read on Dortmund this season has suggested they have been reasonably “unlucky” in some of the games that they’ve drawn and another look at experimental361’s scattergraphs backs that up, and through the rückrunde don’t be surprised to see them emerge as the closest challengers to Red Bull and Bayern.


Italian Serie A


Six of the top seven leading the way for Total Attempts in the Area and all of the top eight in amongst the nine teams with the tightest defences = *sunglasses emoji* Whisper it quietly but I think I’ve cracked football (Don’t bother, I know I haven’t).

Roma’s attack appears to be making up for some struggles in defence and even with a game in-hand, Juventus’ raw numbers are pretty sharp.

The bottom of the table? Yeah, no idea but if you are looking for actual answers – you are certainly in the wrong place.


Spanish La Liga


Real Madrid and Barcelona are head and shoulders above everyone else in La Liga; but you don’t need me to tell you that. No-one gets close to their rate of shooting inside their area. Of the chasing pack there isn’t that much to choice between some of the teams, though I’d think Atletico will start to score a few more goals from their chances and make third place their own.

Based on the tables, I wouldn’t be surprised if the bottom three remained there for the rest of the season. Valencia’s results are going to pick up in the coming weeks – assuming their manager doesn’t change too much – with their shots record looking as it does, and the gap between them and the rest will grow to a comfortable level eventually.


That was fun, wasn’t it?

Data from Opta, and compiled using the websites of WhoScored and Squawka.

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