With and without the ball

We sometimes have a look at shooting and scoring stats here, but one thing we rarely do is factor in actual possession of the ball.

If we look at things on a per game basis we’re missing half the story.  If I tell you that Fulham are averaging 2 goals scored a game you’re impressed; if I tell you they’re averaging 2 goals a game despite only having the ball for 10 minutes out of the 90 you’re even more impressed (or are you? In any case, it doesn’t matter because the numbers are made up. But it’s more texture isn’t it?)

Let’s just get on with it.

The following shows how each team ranks in terms of:

  • how many minutes of possession between shots taken
  • how many minutes of possession in between shots on target
  • how many minutes of possession in betwen goals

It also shows the same thing in reverse:

  • how many minutes out of possession between shots allowed
  • how many minutes out of possession between shots on target allowed
  • how many minutes out of posssession between goals conceded.

As befits our new, exciting approach to graphics, I have colour coded the results. Green means one of the best five teams in the league, red means one of the worst five.

What can we see?

  • Despite what I had expected, Fulham are actually quite efficient attacking, but porous in defence.  This isn’t what I thought I’d seen with my eyes, but makes sense when we figure that we’re been playing five attacking players on occasion this season, at least three of whom don’t really defend.  We’re relatively very effective at creating shooting chances, and relatively ineffective at stopping them.  That our F/A totals are about where they normally are suggests that our defence and goalkeeper have been doing surprisingly well and our attack hasn’t been as efficient as it should be, which does correlate with what we’ve seen with our eyes.
  • Blackburn’s figures again emphasise the Yakubu (terrific)/Robinson (poor) effect. They are scoring more often than almost everyone per minute of possession, but conceding more frequently than almost everyone, too, despite fairly ‘normal’ shots for and against numbers.
  • Man City are best at scoring and not conceding, at least in possession terms. Impressive.
  • Villa seem to have their balance all wrong. They are effective at stopping the opposition from shooting but not at transitioning into counter-attacking opportunities.
  • Stoke seem to be in the same boat, although probably in different ways.
  • Spurs take less time in possession than anyone between shots.  This fits with their super-quick attacking play I guess.
  • Wolves seem bad at stopping shots and at creating them. Oh dear.
  • Swansea’s numbers may be misleading because they keep the ball so well.
  • Everton are fantastic at stopping opponents from shooting (see raw data).

Again, this is all based on time in possessionl.  When I’ve done this before it’s been per 90 minutes, but for this I’ve taken the average possession per game and used that instead, so if City have the ball 60 minutes and therefore don’t have it 30 minutes we use these two numbers for their calculations.  I appreciate that the ball isn’t in play for 90 minutes but it’s a fair assumption to make, I think.

Possession data from whoscored.com.

Here’s the raw data in minutes:

8 thoughts on “With and without the ball

  1. Have nothing to add to what you’ve said.

    Thank you for putting that together though, its very interesting.

    Jol’s fav word in post match & pre match conferences has been “efficiency” in front of goal. Haven’t seen any evidence to suggest we’ve improved in our efficiency in front of goal yet.

    My question is: Do we need a new player to improve our efficiency in front of goal or a change in tactics? Answers in a stamped envelope please…

    1. I don’t really know what the numbers mean, just that we’re better at getting off shots than I thought (the ‘slow buildup’ may be an illusion) but not at having them go in.

  2. So the problem is the quality of the shots then which would suggest:

    1) The need for players who know where the back of the net is…
    2) The need to get players in better goal-scoring positions (see your articles on Clint’s poaching ability)
    3) The need to focus on our strengths. e.g. we have some fantastic headers of the ball (Hangeland, Senderos, Zamora, Dempsey) yet our set pieces have been woeful and we don’t have anyone pumping in decent crosses from wide areas (more of what we saw from Ruiz/Dempsey against Bolton would be nice)

    1. something like that. Also suggests that we’re simply taking bad shots, or, as we’ve discussed, we’re shooting when pressurised by defenders because we’re not making good enough chances/space.

      Liverpool are even worse, creating lots but not taking advantage at all.

      The teams that go the other way and score more often than they ought are Norwich, Chelsea and Blackburn (possibly Villa). I don’t know what, if anything, they have in common. Blackburn and Villa have two ace poachers, Chelsea have Lampard I guess, Norwich’s goals seem to have been spread around.

  3. Wonder if our record when scoring first and conceding first is causation or correlation of/with this? See here:

    When score first: W4 D2 L0 GF13 GA2 GD+11 (9th in that table)
    When concede first: W1 D3 L8 GF10 GA27 GD-17 (12th in that table)

    And then add in the fact we’re 5GF and 8GA in the last 15mins of the first, and 5GF and 11GA in the last 15minutes of the second half…

    1. That looks interesting. Can you take the thought a step further though as I’m not joining the dots.

      It would be interesting to correlate these sorts of things to find out what is going on. Do teams that cross the ball a lot struggle with efficiency? What is it about blackburn, norwich and chelsea’s attacking play that makes them surprisingly efficient?

      1. Should probably make a post to best explain myself, but when you write about our porous defense and “our attack hasn’t been as efficient as it should be”, a big reason for that is because we often seem to be chasing games.

        As we’ve conceded first in over half of our games.

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