Last season, Leicester were good and lucky. This season, they might be neither
Unsurprisingly, Leicester’s title-winning season of 2015/16 followed a pattern that many Premier League winning sides have laid over the past few years. A (relatively) really high difference between conversion rates of their and their opponents’ shots.
I wrote about this back in March, in an article about how United’s conversion differences have fallen off a cliff since Sir Alex Ferguson left. For an updated reminder, here it is again, pre- and post- Fergie.Conversion rates, and the differences we’re dealing with here, are slightly murky things. Because not all chances are as good as each other, part of these differences will be quality, but part will be luck too. As a rough guide, anything within +4% to -4% conversion difference seems like noise that is hard to discern meaning from.
But to Leicester. Their conversion difference was within the realms of Sir Alex’s numbers. In fact, it was the third highest conversion difference in the Premier League since decent stats were made available in 2009-10. The list for the top 5 goes:
- Manchester United (2011-12), +7.25%
- Manchester United (2012-13), +6.56%
- Leicester (2015-16), +6.10%
- Manchester United (2009-10), +5.61%
- Manchester City (2011-12), +5.28%
You may have noticed that 3 of these (2012-13 United, Leicester, City) were title winners, while the other two United sides finished in 2nd those seasons. A mix of skill and luck has to go your way to win the league.
The comparison with Manchester United is interesting with regards to Leicester and their current struggles though. Whereas United lost Alex Ferguson and lost a few percentage points in their conversion rates (a squeeze happening on both sides of the ball), Leicester’s positive conversion difference has more or less vanished altogether so far this year.
In 2014-15, it was +0.24%, 10.09% of their shots going in and 9.85% of their opponents’ shots going in. (Interestingly, this is probably as near to a dead average – ie, around 10% – conversion rate on both sides of the ball as a side is realistically going to get).
In 2015-16 the difference rose, as we’ve seen, to +6.10%; this time with 13.06% of their shots becoming goals and 6.97% of their opponents’. It may be of interest to note that both sides of the ball deviated from the 2014-15 figure, and the general average, by about the same amount. Leicester’s combination of skill and luck seems to have been pretty balanced between their defence and their attack.
This season, their conversion difference is actually negative, on -3.16% (although this could be taken to be an indicator of hard luck of some significance, as well as a lowering in quality). 9.52% of their shots have gone in, and 12.64% of their opponents’.
They may take heart from our team of comparative study though. The Manchester United of Jose Mourinho currently have a conversion difference of about 0.08%; a conversion rate for of 10.74% and against of 10.67% (the 2015-16 figures were 11.41% and 8.53% respectively).
But even so, this represents a drop of just a few percentage points from the previous season. A couple of percentage points isn’t anything to worry about. The NINE percentage points that Leicester’s conversion difference has dropped though is a clear sign that things are not how they were last season.
The drop perhaps echoes how things look on the pitch. Leicester are actually conceding more shots on target per game this season than they did in 2014/15 and (very marginally) taking fewer shots on target too. The number of shots in the opposition box they’re taking has plummeted since last season, from 8.8 to 5.9.
Last season, Leicester were good and lucky. This season, they might be neither.
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