Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Shooooot! - Finding the balance between possession and attempts

Beyond the scoreline, when assessing a match, the first things looked at are usually possession percentage and shot count. Neither of these will tell the whole story of course as they won't include information on when goals were scored (team in front may be happy to sit deeper, and look to counter attack) and the type of chances - better to have a couple of quality chances than a load of long range efforts.

Talking of long range efforts leads me nicely to the shooting of Andros Townsend, I saw him in the flesh when Swansea visited Spurs earlier this season, he's certainly got pace and ability (as well as maybe the tendency to go down easily) but has this season become the benchmark for 'hit and hope' attempts.

Townsend has racked up the shots this season (has the highest overall so far with 45) and only Luis Suarez has a higher shots per game ratio.  Where Townsend and Suarez differ though is that Suarez has scored 9 goals from 40 shots but Townsend has scored only 1 from 45 shots and that was actually a cross that Soldado dummied which ended up fooling the keeper.
Townsend's only league goal this season from his 45 attempts
As well as undoubtedly being a better finisher, Suarez no doubt is taking shots in better areas (even if he is over optimistic at times).  Looking at Townsend's shot map, is a lesson in wishful thinking.
Premier League Shots in 2013/14 - 45 Efforts with the goal coming from the widest shot as was more of a cross.  Only 5 of the 45 efforts from inside the box.  16 of the 45 were blocked, 14 off target and 15 on target (including the goal)
Part of the reason of course for Townsend's recent elevation to saviour of a nation was his goal for England against Montenegro which in a way is a perfect demonstration of the value of 'having a crack' from distance: if you buy enough tickets, you just might win the raffle.
Townsend's goal for England
This season's activity for Townsend is similar to his behaviour for QPR last season (and a handful of games for Spurs):
Shooting in 2012/13 - Townsend with 2 Goals from 37 attempts but the two coming from relatively good positions
Putting the two seasons together gives a total of 3 goals from 82 shots:
Townsend's 3 goals are a cross/shot, a really well taken chest down/half volley and a lay off he's thumped in from the edge of the box. He's lacking however in goals when cutting inside and shooting (which will be the majority of his activity)
Townsend's ambitious shooting is obviously not the sole reason for Spurs' lack of goals but will arguably play a part in returning possession to the opposition and relieving pressure.  If you don't shoot, you don't score but if you shoot from wildly optimistic locations you won't score too often that way either.

At the other end of the spectrum is someone like Wayne Routledge, who has had just 7 shots from the 10 games he's played in the league so far this season and Nathan Dyer has 15.  This is in part why the interest in Tom Ince who has 36 shots (and 6 goals) in his 13 appearances in the Championship so far this season, although my feeling is that Huw has just thrown Swansea's hat into the ring with regards to Ince on the off chance there are no takers with deep pockets. I'd personally be surprised if we ended up being anywhere near the highest bidder in terms of wages offered given he's out of contract at the end of the season.

When to pass, when to shoot? If the opposition know you pretty much never shoot (as is the case with Routledge), then that's one less thing for the defence to worry about. Similarly shooting on sight isn't going to get you too far either unless you have the finishing skills of Gareth Bale. The next stage is to look at different sides decision making in terms of shooting/chance creation.

Twitter: @we_r_pl
Match Stats: Created using Statszone , Whoscored  and Squawka
Other Posts: Johan Gudmundsson - a player for January?
Michu - Premier League Shooting analysed
Jacks Away - Online Magazine
Fulham 1 - Swans 2 Stats and Analysis