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  • May 21, 2014

    Premier League 13/14: Players that shot from best and worst places

    By Colin Trainor
  • In an article published last week I looked at which Premier League players performed particularly badly in terms of finishing the chances that they had.  We discovered that Chelsea’s Ramires had the dubious honour of being the inaugural winner of the Premier League Sodden Boot.

    In this second installment of our end of season Premier League shooting review I want to look at the average chance quality of shots taken by individual players.  Once again, I will undertake this analysis through the lens of the ExpG model (created with Constantinos Chappas) as we determine which players’ choice of shot quality gave them the greatest chance of scoring, as well as those that did anything but that.

    The ExpG model takes into account much more of  each shot’s specific circumstances than just the location, but the shot location is extremely important; hence the title of this article.

    Data Rules

    As with the Sodden Boot analysis I am only looking at players that took in excess of 50 shots (or headers) in the Premier League this season.  In performing this analysis I have excluded penalties and shots taken directly from free kicks.  A penalty taken will see a player’s overall average ExpG value per shot increase due to the approximate ExpG of 0.77 that a penalty gives them, and this is not required as the purpose of this article is to assess the quality of the chances attempted.

     

    Top of the Pops

    Based on the stated criteria – at least 50 shots / headers, excluding penalties and direct free kicks – can you take a guess as to which player’s chances, on average, were of the highest quality this season in the Premier League?

     

    PlayerTeamAvg ExpG per Shot
    CrouchStoke0.207
    NegredoMan City0.174
    DzekoMan City0.173
    AgueroMan City0.167
    Eto'oChelsea0.165
    GiroudArsenal0.165
    SoldadoTottenham0.159
    van PersieMan United0.157
    SturridgeLiverpool0.156

    At 6ft 7in, Peter Crouch certainly wasn’t the first name that I thought of, but, by some margin, his shots and headers had the highest average ExpG value, ie chance of the shot resulting in a goal, during the 2013/14 Premier League.  In fact, Crouch was the only player to have an average ExpG per shot of greater than 0.20.

    As expected of a player with such a physical advantage, Crouch had a large number of headed attempts with just 34 of his 60 efforts at goal being struck with his feet.  I have written previously that headers are converted at lower rates than kicked shots, and so it is worth pointing out that our ExpG model does actually award a lower value for a header compared to a kicked shot from the same location.

    I’m sure that Crouch will be disappointed that his 60 shots resulted in just 8 goals this season, compared to the 12.5 that the ExpG values of his shots would have suggested.

    Crouch’s Shot Locations

    Crouch’s very attractive shooting locations, split by headers and shots, are as shown below:

    Crouch

    Source for Shot Locations: Opta

    Best Of The Rest

    Very interestingly, the three players that follow Crouch and occupy 2nd – 4th place are the three Man City strikers – Aguero, Dzeko and Negredo.  Below this grouping of Man City strikers we have the main attacking threat of each of the other leading teams, with one notable exception.  Luis Suarez.

    Although Suarez improved his shooting discipline this season, with the result that the average ExpG of his shots (exc pens and direct free kicks) increased to 0.131 from 0.12 last term, his penchant for long range shooting ensures that he fails to occupy one of the leading positions in respect of the quality of the average shot taken. I hasten to add that, in theory his shooting opportunities were of lower quality on average than those players appearing on the list!!

    Suarez’s average shot quality of 0.131 was enough to see him placed in 19th in the rankings of average ExpG per shot.

    Man City Attacking Prowess

    When we see how the remaining leading positions in the chance quality table were shared out amongst the other teams, it is very noticeable that Man City managed to have three strikers that had truly excellent shot chance quality.

    It is possible that all three players have superb footballing brains and only choose to shoot when the chance is of a sufficiently high quality.  Whilst this may be true, it is difficult to think that there are not some serious team effects at play here.  Man City’s style of patient, probing play, through balls and pullbacks resulted in them having 47% of their shots from the Prime Zone – the highest rate in the Premier League.  Attaining this level of shot quality, whilst also taking the second most shots in the league is the short hand reason why Man City won the league this season.

    David Silva’s average ExpG of 0.148 seen him post the highest figure in the EPL for non strikers; yet another example of just how City were able to create high quality chances this season.

    ManCity

     

    Shot Quality by Team

    Unsurprisingly, these shooting locations seen Man City possess the highest average ExpG value per shot (exc penalties and direct free kicks) in this year’s Premier League:

    TeamAvg ExpG (exc pens & DFKs)
    Man City0.134
    Liverpool0.123
    Man United0.121
    Arsenal0.115
    Chelsea0.113
    West Ham0.112
    Tottenham0.102
    West Brom0.101
    Stoke0.100
    Southampton0.099
    Everton0.099
    Cardiff0.098
    Crystal Palace0.095
    Hull0.094
    Newcastle0.093
    Fulham0.092
    Norwich0.091
    Sunderland0.089
    Aston Villa0.086
    Swansea0.082

    Repeatability of Average ExpG

    In my Sodden Boot article I stressed that the conversion rate of Goals : ExpG on an individual player level does not yet seem to be repeatable from season to season.  The little work I have carried out has indicated that the average ExpG per shot on a player level does show some level of correlation.  This is something that I hope to look at closer during the summer recess.

    However, it is intuitive to think that the average ExpG per shot value is more likely to be influenced by the role played in the team than by a desire inherent in the player to just shoot from positive EV places.  Of course, the people at the very top of this table will be in that position due to a very effective combination of both factors; their role on the team as the main striker as well as possessing the smarts to be aware of the quality of the shots they attempt.

     

    The Other End of the Table

    That then leads us to a group of players that do not seem to view shot quality as being of any great importance to them.  At this stage I should point out that some of these players do appear to be very good at long range shooting, one such example is the ex-Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye.  However, for every Cabaye we have players who, for their own benefit, should be pointed to the following table:

    PlayerTeamAvg ExpG per Shot
    RedmondNorwich0.039
    TownsendTottenham0.041
    ShelveySwansea0.046
    CabayeNewcastle0.049
    BarkleyEverton0.066
    ArnautovicStoke0.068
    CazorlaArsenal0.070
    BerahinoWest Brom0.076
    SnodgrassNorwich0.077
    DiameWest Ham0.079
    PuncheonCrystal Palace0.079

    Nathan Redmond

    Redmondpic

    Andros Townsend certainly gained notoriety during the early part of the campaign for his hugely wasteful shooting, and so it is perhaps with some surprise that Townsend doesn’t have the honour of topping this particular table of shame.  Instead, with each shot having an average ExpG value of less than 4%, Norwich’s Nathan Redmond can lay claim to be the player that shot from the worst positions during the 2013/14 Premier League campaign.

    Redmond’s Shot Locations

    Redmond

    Source for Shot Locations: Opta

    Townsend and Redmond are both young, at 22 and 20 respectively, so perhaps their shot decision making will improve as they mature.  As it stands, however, they only serve to frustrate the Spurs and Norwich supporters as they brought too many of their team’s attacks to a premature end this season.

     

    Article by Colin Trainor