A Decade of Big Chances: Clinical or Careless?

A Decade of Big Chances: Clinical or Careless?
June 16, 2021 Daniel Rhodes


In the past, the only match stats available were the very basic ‘total shots’ for each team, and if you were lucky maybe possession. It was rare to come across anything else. That all changed, for me anyway, when I subscribed to EPL Index about ten years ago. Suddenly, as Opta began tracking various metrics, we had a vast array of data to analyse:

  • The number of passes, touches, dribbles, interceptions, blocks, tackles, aerial duels, defensive errors, crosses, chances created, and shots for every single player in the Premier League.
  • How many attempts on target for each team, shooting accuracy across the league, which body part each player scored with, whether the shot was outside the penalty area or inside the six yard box and, crucially, Opta came up with Clear Cut Chances (CCC’s) that were then rebranded a few years later into Big Chances.

Before we look back at the history of this metric, and how various Liverpool players have fared (as well as the best across the league) we need to clarify the definition:

A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score, usually in a one on one scenario or from very close range when the ball has a clear path to goal and there is low to moderate pressure on the shooter. Penalties are always considered big chances.

This has evolved over the years, with the phrase “low to moderate pressure on the shooter” added fairly recently. It is also one of the only ‘subjective’ metrics on the Opta roster. It is, however, reviewed after every game (sometimes more than once). During the 2016/17 season on The Tomkins Times I noted the big chances immediately after every game, and then went back a week later to see if the figures had been changed. There was a 28% ‘changed on review rate’, or in other words nearly one in three big chances were changed post-match after watching the video again. Keep that 33% figure in mind, because in terms of expected goals, some analysts believe a better way to measure big chances would be to use a xG value of 30 to 35 percent as the qualifier, rather than whomever is working for Opta on a particular match. Either way, we have a decade’s worth of CCC data to look at in this article, and we can find out who has been clinical and who has been careless.

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