Corners: Some people love 'em, some people hate 'em and Avon Barksdale wants them back already! A corner is a set piece play that usually sees ~16 of the 22 players on the field of play have the chance to influence the game during the 3 0r 4 seconds from the point the corner is taken. The attacking team can score a vital goal, the defending team can safely clear their zone and launch a potentially devastating counter attack. The delivery of a corner is an interesting thing in itself: Does a team punt the ball into a zone and hope luck is on their side and the corner kick falls to an attacking player? Would that last sentence be disrespectful to the complex attacking schemes that certain clubs employ at corners? Maybe the success of a corner kick for the attacking team isn't so much about luck but more about the skill of the delivery which can be almost viewed as a hard accurate pass? What about the positions of the players and the runs they make? What about the type of corners - short, long, in-swing - and the the success rate of each type? I think you can see where I am going here. Corners are complex, they can also be brutally simple in their effectiveness. There are so many variables to consider on every single corner kick that it becomes virtually impossible to explain why some teams are better at them than others. Some of a teams ability is luck, some of it is skill and some of it is unexplained. And let's leave it at that for now. What I want to write about today is each teams corner count and the number of goals for and against from corners in the Premier League in 2012/13.
[table id=21 /]
Liverpool are the corners champ with 285 and 174 against - good for 1st and 2nd place in the league last year. The top 7 in corners are the teams we would expect to be there. Some teams - United and Chelsea - look to be a little shy of the totals we may expected them to have posted, but score effects probably accounts for some of the difference between expected and actual.
Man United had the 5th fewest total number of corners. Curious.
Goals For And Against
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Man United have have had the 5th lowest total of corners in 2012/13 but they had by far the highest total goals from corners; 15 for and 6 against. Let us focus on United's 15 goals for from corners. That is 17.4% of Man United's total goal output and whatever your opinion on corners, that percentage of goals from corners was an invaluable contribution to the title win.
If you are looking for a skill driver behind man United's 15 goals then look no further than RvP's delivery, and some of Fergie's voodoo magic.
Working our way down the table: Chelsea are a fine corner team at both ends of the pitch;Wigan scored a lot; Liverpool were average and Newcastle were so bad. One goal scored from two hundred and three corners! If we guessed at Man United's scoring record potentially being driven by skill, then what can we make of Newcastle's scoring record? Appalling skill level or the darkest dirtiest run of bad luck?
Raw Conversion % And Conceded %
This chart is the basic conversion and conceded percentages for each teams. The calc is goal/corners.
We can see a concentration of teams around the horizontal and vertical mean lines and usually this is where teams will reside in terms of conversion and conceded %, but naturally there are outlier teams. Man United are so far out on their own that they were either the beneficiaries of some tremendous luck or they are are in possession of a skill and tactical setup that is unique in the Premier League. Answers in the comments please.
If Man United were the good then Newcastle, Swansea, Arsenal and Tottenham were the bad conversion teams of 2012/13. I don't know why certain teams are able to score and convert their corners into goals at a high rate and other teams struggle mightily with what seems so simple to other teams.
A few smart fellows had some ideas on this topic:
@benjaminpugsley skill, but causality is complex. Delivery the most important element, then systemic attack of weak points — Ted Knutson (@mixedknuts) August 4, 2013
Simon Gleave responded with this:
@mixedknuts @benjaminpugsley I disagree Ted. Having studied this a little, I think that luck easily outweighs skill. — Simon Gleave (@SimonGleave) August 4, 2013
Oli Juliusson chipped in with this, which focuses on the type of delivery:
@benjaminpugsley @mixedknuts that short corners are better than people thing but inswinging seem to work the best. — Oli Juliusson (@OliJuliusson) August 4, 2013
@benjaminpugsley @mixedknuts and when short corners do result in a shot, they lead to goals more often than the others. — Oli Juliusson (@OliJuliusson) August 4, 2013
Some interesting thoughts from some smart people. This article wasn't specifically written with the idea of discussing luck and skill in the scoring of goals from corners, it was written in order to display some basic information which isn't publicly available. We have corners for and against and corner goals for and against in the tables above, please do go and sort them and find out how good your team were from corners last term. In Part II: Shots for and against from corners, scoring% and prevention% and Corner PDO.