Average Shot Location for Leading Strikers in EPL

Following on from an image I tweeted a couple of days ago, I wondered what it would look like if headers, as well as penalties, were removed,

I decided to include all players that had more than 65 shots (excluding headers and penalties) last season.  This gave me a manageable list of the 26 players that took the most shots in the league last season.

How it works

The distance from the goal line to the marker is the average distance out of all shots that the player took.

The distance across the pitch from the penalty spot was a little more difficult to present as it would be wrong to use a simple average – had a player took two wild shots, one from the right and one from the left the average would appear right in the middle of the pitch!!

What I eventually decided on was to take the average of the absolute values of the distance from the penalty spot for each shot.  To then help spread out the data points I have plotted the data point to the side of the penalty spot which seen the majority of shots taken for that particular player.


So what does it tell us?

Taarabt and Lampard took shots that were farthest out on average, it certainly appeared that the QPR player adopted a “shoot on sight” policy this season.  It is not surprising to see Bale and Cazorla shooting from so far out on average.

Wayne Rooney is interesting, his average shot position is outside the penalty area as well.  I don’t have data for previous seasons, but I would guess that if this image had been created last season that his average shot position would have been inside the area.  I guess that is what happens when his role is now to play as second fiddle to Van Persie and we can see how much closer to the goal Van Persie’s average shot is as a result.

The marker closest to goal certainly surprises me.  I wasn’t expecting to see Kevin Nolan’s average shot position to be from a much closer position than any other player, strikers included.  I’m only hypothesising here, but is this average position as a result of playing off Andy Carroll’s knock downs?
Whatever the reason Nolan was certainly making a point of playing a very advanced role.

Across the capital in North London, Giroud definitely can’t blame shot location for his pretty poor returns this season.  He couldn’t have asked for a better average shot location position.

Arguably Suarez’s reputation for shooting from non-optimum positions is deserved, excluding Bale his average shooting position is wider than any other player.


5 thoughts on “Average Shot Location for Leading Strikers in EPL

  1. Pingback: The West Ham Phenomenon | statsbettor

  2. Very interesting analysis!
    A couple of months ago I tried to correlate shot positions with goals and found that distance to the goal/penalty spot was not the best quantity to look at, but instead using the goal “angle of view” yielded much better results. Luis Suárez “impossible shots” is more likely due to bad angles, rather than bad distances.

    • I could see that Javier, but it could be difficult to present “angle of view” data across a whole season worth of shots. Would using a simple average work?

      • I have been studying these things using histograms (and trying to fit a curve afterwards). Just for fun built the on-target-probability vs angle graph for all the data I have (about 30000 shots over last three seasons), but it doesn’t seem to follow as nice a pattern as for goals: shots with very small angle have around 20% less chance to be on target, percentage goes quickly back to average and then unexpectedly drops down around 50 degrees. For angles over 60 degrees chance grows almost linearly until peaking at around 120 degrees, after which virtually every shot is on target.

  3. Pingback: The Not Quite So Wonderful World of West Ham | Tactical Strikes

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