The performance of a team is undeniably correlated with their ability to take chances. So which teams and players have performed best in this regard so far, and which have been the most profligate?
Football is a game of fine margins. A team’s ability to take its chances ultimately goes a long way to deciding whether they are successful, both within a game and across the course of a season. That’s precisely what has led Manchester United to second place in the league, and seen Arsenal and Liverpool score just nine times in a combined 1080 minutes.
Last season Chelsea both scored (12.8%) and hit the target (37.2%) with the highest proportion of their shots at goal en route to the title, while Burnley and QPR had the lowest conversion rates on their way back to the Championship.
In this piece WhoScored.com examines the figures at this early stage in the Premier League in terms of finishing statistics, looking at both chance conversion and shot accuracy.
Starting with chance conversion (the percentage of shots scored) it’s perhaps unsurprisingly West Ham that lead the way. It’s been a remarkable start to the season for the Hammers under the tutelage of Slaven Bilic, who has masterminded away wins over Arsenal, Liverpool and latterly Manchester City to lead the team to third.
Geared up to play on the counter, their system requires clinical finishing. Only bottom club Newcastle have fired off fewer shots in away games thus far, but West Ham have scored seven of 26 efforts. Their heroics on the road have contributed to an unsustainable 20.6% conversion rate, with Leicester and Bournemouth the only other sides with a figure in excess of 12%.
In comparison, Arsenal’s woes in front of goal – typified by the form of Alexis Sanchez, who has had the most shots in the league (31) but failed to score – highlight that the Gunners could so easily be right at the top were it not for their profligacy. Indeed, Wenger’s men rank bottom for chance conversion having scored just five times from a league-high tally of 121 shots (2.5%).
Liverpool (4.7%) and Tottenham (5.1%) are their closest rivals. Philippe Coutinho, who has scored with just one of 28 shots and had more in a single game against Norwich (10) than any other player this season – without success – is the Reds’ guiltiest culprit. Meanwhile Harry Kane – whose drought for Spurs is well documented – has had 21 shots without scoring in the league.
There’s a new leader when it comes to shot accuracy, with Swansea heading the pile having hit the target with 41.2% of their shots at goal, and top scorer Bafetimbi Gomis (11) hitting the most shots on target in the league. With the likes of Crystal Palace, Manchester City and Leicester in closest attendance, testing the keeper has been pivotal to the strong starts of the current top four. Stoke, meanwhile, are fifth thanks to the exploits of Mame Biram Diouf, who has hit the most shots without missing the target (9) in the top flight.
Arsenal’s rise from last in conversion rate to eighth for shot accuracy (33.9%) suggests that the Gunners’ fortunes in front of goal will improve sooner rather than later. Impressive goalkeeping displays from the likes of Adrian, Tim Krul and Jack Butland have kept the Londoners’ tally down thus far. Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud have each hit the target eight times – only five players have done so more – so opposing shot stoppers have certainly had a say in their tough start to the campaign.
Instead it’s Watford who prop up the pile, though the improving form of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo has meant that the Hornets’ troubles in front of goal have subsided of late. That said, the former will be disappointed with his own form – despite laying on three goals for his strike partner – having hit the target with just two of 18 shots thus far.
Chelsea rank 17th for shot accuracy, with Branislav Ivanovic a slightly surprising culprit in this regard. The defender has had more shots (10) without hitting the target than any other player in the league. That haplessness has summed up the Serbian’s season to date.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings. You can follow all the scores, statistics, live player and team ratings with their new free-to-download app.