Image: Premier League Gallery / Chance Illustration
Nine games into the Premier League and we’ve seen it all. Complete chaos in the league as overpriced purchases fail to live up to expectations, big 6 teams have cataclysmic results after losing a singular game of football, the same bunch of over 40 year old’s spout garbage subjective takes on the telly whilst Manchester City seem completely unbeatable.
We’ve also seen promoted sides Newcastle, Huddersfield and Brighton do surprisingly well in the league, sitting at seventh, eleventh and twelfth respectively. Most of us at Chance predicted Huddersfield or Brighton to fall with grace back to the Championship. There is still plenty of time in the season for our predictions to come true, apart from my “Everton at 6th” Pick which seems very unlikely unless Rooney magically finds his 09/10 form or someone invents a formation that includes 3 number 9s. As the promoted sides have performed better than expected, established Premier League sides have slumped in the downward direction. Lets have a look at some of the most prominent worst performing sides, using Stratagem shot data and the 9 weeks of data collected.
I’ll be the first to admit that analysing league performance solely using shot data has limitations, so some of my analysis may look underdeveloped or not critical enough. The theories developed from these graphics (too many shots conceded inside the 6 yard area, not enough crosses whilst attacking) need to be tested further by watching games / training or by using other data.
I also need your help, what part of these diagrams do I need to improve on? I am currently thinking that I need to replace Chance Rating with xG numbers, perhaps add colours to differentiate graphics between teams and connect chance creation locations to corresponding shot locations, but any feedback would be great).
Here is the league table as it stands.
Crystal Palace: 20th W1 D0 L8 – Played 4/6 Big 6, 2/3 Promoted, 4/9 Home
The first team to cut their manager are not feeling healthy, running the highest goal difference and having the lowest goals scored. The main positive is that they have played the bulk of the top 6 sides, and have a 8 game stretch through November and December filled with mid-table sides. They’ll definitely need to get scoring goals, and as you can see they have had plenty of shots, but only a few fall under the “great chance” rating. There is a fair amount of missed shots (yellow), especially inside and near the 6 yard box.
Palace have only had a couple open looks at goal (shots with 0 or 1 defensive pressure) and are allowed to shoot at will from outside the box.
Creatively the team follows the Premier League trend, passing in the middle of the pitch and attempt crosses on the flanks (especially low ones from the left).
Goals against Palace have overwhelmingly come from really good positions, inside the box and between the sticks. There has also been a high amount of missed shots against them.
When looking at the defensive pressure, more open shots were conceded on the right side of goal, alongside a vast amount directly in front of the goal.
On open play chance creation against Palace, they have allowed crosses both inside and outside the box, of both kinds, in addition to multiple passes and 3 dangerous moments inside the box.
Leicester City: 14th W2 D3 L4 – Played 4/6 Big 6, 2/3 Promoted, 4/9 Home
The second team to sack their manager, Leicester have played an identical number of games against the Big 6 sides and promoted teams as Crystal Palace. Leicester have managed wins over Swansea and Brighton and have only kept 2 clean sheets, including a 0-0 draw against Bournemouth. The Foxes have a tough schedule coming up, with Manchester City and Spurs to play in November and Manchester United just before Christmas.
Leicester seem to have a good attack with a majority of their goals coming inside in the box, and only a few misses compare to what we saw with Palace.
Being 8th in the league for goals scored, they seem comfortable offensively, finding shots with low defensive pressure and seem to favour vertical low crosses (or low vertical crosses, think the latter sounds better actually).
Leicester seem to have defended the 6 yard box well, with only 2 goals and 4 shots, and most shots seem to be defended or saved. 3 successful long range attempts should be worrying considering they should be the hardest to achieve.
Leicester are conceding many open shots inside the box but are also defending far better than Crystal Palace (more blue circles).
They are also facing a large amount of high crosses, and seem to be weaker on the right side, allowing more passes inside the box and high crosses.
Everton: 18th W2 D2 L5 – Played 5/6 Big 6, 1/3 Promoted, 5/9 Home
And now the most recent team to make ways with their manager. Everton sit in the relegation zone despite being one of the biggest spenders in the Premier League this summer, some claiming they had a successful transfer window (as I mentioned in my previous Chance piece) and supposed ambitions to break into the top 6 spots. Just looking at games against the Top6, they have conceded 14 goals and scored 3. Not a pretty portrait. Everton have also had to compete in the Europa League, playing an extra 3 games, losing 2/3.
Everton’s attack is towards the lower end of the table with 7 goals, but there is also a fair amount of missed shots. The attack might not be producing great chances but Everton have seen a good amount of open shots on goal.
Everton’s attack, compared to the other teams viewed in this piece, use a significant amount of high crosses, alongside the usual passing motions.
Everton have conceded goals from both sides of the goal, especially on the left. Almost all of the great chances conceded by them seemed to be defended or saved, which is good, but they also concede a bunch of open shots.
Chance creation against Everton contains a mix of crosses and passes, especially inside the box.
West Ham: 16th W2 D2 L5 – Played 2/6 Big 6, 3/3 Promoted, 4/9 Home
Moving onto another club that invested big sums in the summer, the pressure has been on manager Slaven Bilic for most of last season as well as this season. Despite having an opening run filled with all 3 promoted sides, they managed to pull only 3 points against Huddersfield, being trounced by the others 3-0 in both games. West Ham’s lack of Big 6 games will come to bite them in December when they face Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in the same 10 day span.
West Ham’s goals have all (bar one) come from the good zone of inside the 6 yard box. However, the Hammers are below average for goals scored, and this in some part could be due to the good chances missed, shown in the diagram below.
Looking at the defensive pressure against West Ham and you’ll see that they have been well defended, perhaps attacking against structured defences (as opposed to attacking on the counter against scrambling players). This could also explain the missed shots, as West Ham players are having to adjust their shots for the defending players in between them and the goal.
Their attack focuses on high crosses with probably the least amount of passing in the middle out of these clubs.
West Ham currently have the joint 4th worst goals conceded and 4th worse goal difference. This could be even worse if some of the missed chances went goal bound. They seem fine on defensive pressure, getting at least one player in front of shots for the majority of those inside the box, so I would suggest that they are allowing too many good chances.
The open play against West Ham contains a lot of passes before the box, which could be down to the midfield not disrupting opposition play?
Bournemouth: 19th W2 D1 L6 – Played 3/6 Big 6, 1/3 Promoted, 4/9 Home
Bournemouth seem to have been forgotten, as it is near expected that they will end up just above relegation with young and rated manager Eddie Howe (who hasn’t faced anywhere near the scrutiny that other managers in this piece have). They are only 1 point away from safety and have 2 of the promoted sides to face in the next 3 league fixtures (after Chelsea), so as with all these teams it is early days to be judging. But lets dive in.
Bournemouth’s -7 GD is one of the worst in the league but is mainly due to only 6 goals scored (tied with Swansea for 2nd worst). Most of Bournemouth’s shots have low chance ratings, which suggests that their creatively is lacking. The Cherries are also suffering with lots of missed shots, especially the 4 taken inside the 6 yard box.
Looking at defensive pressure, Bournemouth seems to have a fair amount of open shots but also have been well defended within the 18 yard box.
Believing that creativity is Bournemouth’s issue, I tried to assess why and came to the conclusion that they either need to improving their passing into the box (from outside) or need to prioritise crossing (which is barely used successfully). As shown in the diagram I credit Bournemouth’s attack for having a decent amount of passing inside the box.
Not only are Bournemouth not creating enough chances, but they are conceding ten buckets full on the defensive side, and are lucky to have only conceded 13 considering the amount of shots missed.
Perhaps these shots missed due to defensive pressure, which seems decent inside the 6 yard box and ‘okay’ inside the box. Definitely not the tightest of defences, and have allowed a mix of passes and high crosses (to an extent inside the 18 yard box).
To conclude, I thought to suggest a “hot fix” for each team. These are definitely not intended as serious suggestion, and are based primarily off the data & analysis shown in these pieces. I’ve also included Manchester City’s data just in case you wanted to compare the worst to the best (begrudgingly said as a Chelsea homer). I hope you enjoyed the article, please follow me to keep updated on my work (@frost29v on twitter).
Palace: Stop conceding open shots, get closer to strikers / attackers.
Leicester: Prevent high crosses from the flanks and passing inside your 18 yard box (especially on the right side).
Everton: Convert your misses (easier said than done) and either change your high crossing strategy or find a striker that will fit.
West Ham: Attack on the counter & use midfielders to break up / pressure opposition play.
Bournemouth: Change your attacking strategy as you need better chances.
Pepchester City (excuse the gifs but that is 100% how I reacted in Bath Central Library whilst editing this)
This article was written with the aid of StrataData, which is property of Stratagem Technologies. StrataData powers the StrataBet Sports Trading Platform, in addition to StrataBet Premium Recommendations.
Gifs: found at https://imgur.com/gallery/L5gwO