Stoke’s One Direction

This is a very short article which doesn’t contain anything groundbreaking, however I wanted to post a viz which says something amazing about Stoke.

By this stage everyone knows that Stoke’s gameplan revolves around set pieces, long balls and flick ons. However, I was surprised at just how one dimensional they actually are.

This image shows the ground shots (headers and penalties are excluded) that Stoke scored with during the 2012/13 Premier League season:


There is no need to correct your screen, all the white space on that image is correct!!

Stoke scored 21 goals from ground shots, but 20 of them came from what I have termed the Prime Positions, ie the central portion of the penalty area.
They only scored 1 kicked goal all season which was not from this centrally close position!!  This was the thunderbolt scored by Cameron Jerome in the 90th minute versus Southampton which earned his team a point.

Their inability to score from the ground unless the shot was from very close central positions is bound to have left Stoke a fairly easy team to defend against.
Well maybe, “easy to defend against” is not the correct phrase but their lack of variation will certainly have counted against them.
Although he was coming from a different viewpoint,  Mike Goodman pointed out why variety in a team’s attacking attacking play is so important.


In order to give Stoke’s total lack of variety some meaning, here is a table which ranks each team by the proportion of their ground hit goals that  came from the Prime Position.  Before that however, I’m also including an image that defines the boundaries of the Prime Position.


% of Ground Goals from Prime Location


The above table clearly shows just how much more reliant Stoke were on scoring ground shots from close in locations than any other team in the league.
After their 95% figure there is a lot of clear air until we reach the 71%s that were posted by Man United and Southampton.

Tony Pulis

I know I’m not the first person to say that Stoke were correct in dispensing with the services of Tony Pulis at the end of last season, but the figures contained in the above table seem to give great weight to the fact that Stoke City football club just had to do something to try to spark a change in the way that they play.


4 thoughts on “Stoke’s One Direction

  1. Or perhaps Pulis realized that taking shots from outside of prime areas was not an efficient way of scoring goals? To fully prove your point, you would have to show that Stoke tried and failed to shoot from poor areas, and were consistently unable to do so.

    • You are correct that taking shots from outside of prime areas is not as efficient as taking shots from those plum positions, however with them only scoring 21 goals from the ground over a narrow band of 7 different regions (per my image) it means that defences didn’t have to worry about the threat of Stoke shooting from long range or slightly worse positions.

      This inability to mix up their attacking options is way less than optimal strategy; that was really the gist of my article. In fact by perhaps trying to stick to optimal strategy he actually weakened their effectiveness due to concrete one dimension way of playing.

      As stated, Stoke only scored 1 ground shot from outside the prime position, the next lowest team in the league was Reading with 8 goals scored from outside the prime zone. The scale of the difference between 1 and Reading’s 8 is very large.

      All, IMHO, of course.

  2. statsbettor, you’re either thick or just mentally retarded. Pulis is no more, he went a few months back! So exactly what the 2012/2013 stats are for is beyond me.

    • AB, It could be used in any number of ways. One example could be to compare quantatively the impact that Hughes may have on Stoke’s playing style – I’ve captured the baseline position that he is inheriting.

      You will have noticed that right at the top I said that the article wouldn’t contain anything ground breaking, but I believed that it was worth publishing the image that showed so much blank space.

      Alternatively you could just ignore the article if it annoys you that much.

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