Better With The Ball? It’s Just A Shot Away

Better With The Ball? It’s Just A Shot Away
October 28, 2013 Andrew Beasley

By Andrew Beasley. The original version of this article appeared in These Turbulent Times, and the stats (sourced from EPLIndex) were correct up to 29 March 2013. I’ve now updated it to include all of last season so that it covers 1,900 matches worth of data in total, and re-written parts of it accordingly.

I have read a couple of very interesting statistics with regards to the influence that having more shots on target (SoT) than your opponent has upon winning football matches. On 24th February, The Guardian advised us:

Of the 181 games won in the Premier League before last weekend, the team who had the most possession only won 103 – 57% in total. The team who had more shots on target than their opponents won 128 matches – 71% of the total.

Then this article, which used a larger sample of 987 matches, chipped in with:

Winning the SoT battle in non-drawn games, results in a team winning that fixture 71.73% of the time and losing the fixture 19.35% of the time.

It seems pretty conclusive; have more shots on target than your opponent, and you’ll win around 71% of the time (when excluding drawn matches). This isn’t in itself that surprising, but it’s valuable to be able to quantify it from a performance monitoring point of view all the same.

But a thought occurred to me; you could win the SoT battle by anything from one in a close game performance-wise to potentially any number (and for the record, Liverpool’s best figure since August 2008 has been twelve on two occasions). Surely accounting for this differential might provide an even better guide than simply who had more shots on target?

I therefore decided to look at ‘TSoT%’ (total shots on target percentage), which is the proportion of the shots on target that a team has in a match. As a simple example, if one side has six shots on target and the other four, then the former has a TSoT% of 60%, and the latter 40%.