Burnley and Watford limit opponents’ ball progression
For a team so tightly tied to the idea of low-block football, Burnley does a good job of stopping teams progressing the ball.
Only 44.5% of their opponents’ possession sequences get to or take place in the final third, which is around about league average and is the tenth lowest rate in the league.
It is, though, a lot closer to the ‘bottom’ of the league than the ‘top’, given that Manchester City’s opponents only get to the final third in 35% of their possessions sequences, but the rate is as close to Arsenal (42%) as it is Everton (47%).
Why Burnley has its reputation is probably down to what teams get up to when they actually get to Burnley’s third.
On average, 13% of possession sequences in the final third end in a shot (in the Premier League this season), but against Burnley, this rate is up at 15.6%, the largest rate in the league by nearly a percentage point.
This backs up what is seen on the pitch – that Sean Dyche’s side does actually press quite well up the field, but once that press is broken it’s only then that they bunker down into their shell, looking to frustrate opponents into poor quality shots.
The percentage of their opponents’ shots that hit the target is the lowest in the league at only 27% against a general average that is around 33-34%. They’re joined by only Chelsea in the club of teams who limit their opposition to fewer than 30% of their shots going on target.
It’s a fellow recently-promoted-club of Burnley’s that might be the most interesting in the league, at least when you look at how they and their opponents move through these checkpoints of football.
Watford’s opponents get to the final third in only 41% of their possession sequences which is, somewhat astonishingly, the fourth lowest rate in the league. Only City, Liverpool, and Tottenham limit their opponents’ progression more often than them.
When Watford’s opposition gets to the final third, they take a shot 12% of the time, about the league average, but these are on target a huge 41% of the time – unsurprisingly, this is the highest rate in the league for the shots that a side concedes either drawing a save or being a goal.
And then, as if that wasn’t enough, of all of those shots on target, 38% of them are scored, which is again noticeably higher than the current league average rate of around 30%.
The defensive strategy, it seems, could hardly be more different to Burnley’s.
In attack, they get to the final third a little below the average rate, at nearly 42% of the time and take shots at about an average rate of 12.6% as well.
These are on target only 28% of the time, which usually would suggest that their shots aren’t generally of a very good quality.
However, 38% of them are scored, which would suggest the very good quality of chances (for reference, the percentage of shots on targets that Manchester City scores is also around 38%).
This all most likely means that the Hornets are producing a lot of low-quality chances on the one hand, but a smattering of particularly good chances on the other.
And all of this you can gauge from just a few simple stats…
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