I’ve decided to come out of hibernation and put some data to use. For how long I don’t know. So there’s just over half a season gone so I thought it would be interesting to take a look at Liverpool’s shot location data. For future reference here’s how I break those shots down into different locations.
So first let’s take a look at Liverpool’s shot heat map this season and see if there is anything irregular that is noticeable. If you look closely you can see there is a nice concentration of shots around the penalty spot. This is a good sign as we know shots from prime locations are converted at a much higher rate than shots from other locations.
Secondly we can see from the heat map that there seems to be quite a large reddish area expanding outside the box and past the D. So at a cursory glance we can get an initial idea of what the data may look like. Let’s take a closer look at those shot locations with a shot chart and see if the shot chart can confirm or deny those assumptions.
Now if we follow the shot chart and run our eye around the outer rim of those shots we can see that it matches pretty nicely with the shape of our heat area. The shot chart also contains that nice collection of shots in and around the penalty spot. But do the numbers tell us the same thing? Let’s find out.
Shots Overall (non-pen)
Firstly, let’s take an overview of Liverpool’s shots this season. Volume: 350 (non-pen) shots, only Man City have taken more shots this season. So a healthy amount of shots have been taken. On target: 38% of all shots have been on target, only Arsenal have a higher % of all shots on target, and the 130 that are on target is the highest by any team. Conversion: At 12.9% for all shots, only Arsenal and Man City have a higher conversion rate this season. On the face of it, those numbers look healthy. But let’s break them down into our above mentioned shot locations and see if there is anything to be worried about in the underlying data.
Shots Prime – current EPL Conversion 15.6%
The most important shot location on the pitch is prime central in the box. The reason, shots from this area are nearly three times more likely to be converted than shots from wide in the box areas, and almost 4 times more likely from outside (current conversion 4.2%) the box. That’s a very significant number. Liverpool have taken 122 shots from prime locations this season, only 4 teams have taken more from this area, that’s 36% (both Chelsea & Arsenal finished last season with 37% of their shots from prime) of their overall number. It’s an average ratio, however, at this stage it’s not a worry as volume is high and with Liverpool having a current league high conversion rate of 22% from prime things look healthy. Of course, Suarez has been a major contributor to this, but whether that’s sustainable or not is another story.
Shots Outside The Box – current EPL Conversion 4.2%
My slight worry over the last number of weeks is that Liverpool’s shots from outside the box has steadily increased. With 152 shots from outside only Newcastle and Spurs have taken more from this area. Coutinho being instrumental here with 36 shots from outside, and only 9 on target, with 0 goals scored. In fact, he’s taken more shots from outside the box than any other player that is yet to score.
Again though, Liverpool have excelled, scoring a joint league high, with Man City, 11 goals from outside. Liverpool’s conversion rate of 7.2% from outside is only bettered by Stoke and Man City this season. Suarez no doubt has been instrumental in this, scoring a league high of 7 goals from outside the box. In fact no other player has scored more than 4 from outside. Suarez has a ridiculous 19.4% conversion rate from outside the box this season. Bale scored a league high 9 from outside last season and already Suarez has nearly reached that target with only half a season gone. It’s also worth noting that no player scored more than 5 outside in 11/12, and no player scored more than 4 outside in 10/11. So what Suarez is doing here is unprecedented. Again, the big worry here is sustainability.
Nervous Nelly Corner – things to be wary of
Regression. Too many shots from outside the box. Lack of goals from other areas coupled with Suarez scoring the majority. Sustainability of high conversion rates. In the past 3 full seasons only Man United have finished the season with a conversion rate greater than Liverpool’s current 22% conversion rate from prime. And both those times United won the league. Also, given the nature of difficulty of scoring from outside the box, and the huge amount of luck involved it’s unlikely Liverpool can sustain a 7.2% conversion rate. Again, no team in the past 3 full seasons has finished with a conversion rate that high from outside the box. It will be interesting to see over the next 10 games if these conversion rates regress or remain stable.