Striker’s self-made chances
It is always a peculiar quirk of footballing stat tables that a good goals tally for a league season is somewhere between 20 and 30, but that a good haul for assists is around half that. While this is partly due to the nature of general footballing formations – a strong midfield culminating in one or two primary strikers – spreading the creative load but concentrating the task of scoring, it’s also affected by the fact that, well, you can just take a shot without anyone having set it up for you.
However, a lot of shots which do not feature a name in the ‘shot assist’ column come from pot shots. According to Stratagem data, of players in the Big 5 Leagues to have taken more than 20 shots, the player with the largest percentage of these to be self-made was Marc Albrighton with 60% (12 of 20), and Marcelo also makes the top 10 with 50% (11 of 22). They’re joined in the top 10 by deeper-lying central players like Harry Arter (17 of 36), and Danny Drinkwater (13 of 26), amongst others.
Generally, as one might imagine, these self-made shots are of a slightly worse quality than ones which have been set up by someone else. Stratagem has several levels of qualifier for the quality of chance, and by giving them a number corresponding to their ranking in that system we can give players an easy numerical value.
The best average value in the list of players to take over 20 is Paco Alcacer with an average chance quality of 3.88 (between Stratagem’s ‘Good’ and ‘Very Good’ chance quality markers, the expectation of these chances being that they’re converted between 15% and 25% of the time respectively).
With a larger sample, and close behind him, is Kevin Gameiro with an average chance quality of 3.56. 8 of his 45 chances were self-created (and not direct free kicks, which have been taken out of the self-made sample). His self-made chances see a large drop-off, with an average quality rating of just 2.5. Cristiano Ronaldo suffers from something similar. His 145 chances last season had an average quality of 2.68, but his 18 self-made shots a chance quality rating of just 1.67.
Let’s wade fully into the Messi vs Ronaldo war. Lionel Messi’s average chance quality for all of his shots is worse than Ronaldo’s (just) at 2.55. However, the drop-off between this and the average quality of his 46 self-made chances is far less steep, the quality of these clocking in at 2.15.
In the top 25 strikers who took the most shots in the Big 5 Leagues last season (the big names, basically), 4 actually had a better chance quality with their self-made chances than their general chance quality average.
At the other end of the spectrum are those with the biggest negative difference between the average chance quality of their self-made shots and all of their shots.
Hello, Harry Kane. As Tim Sparv would say (or tweeted back in March 2016), “Harry Kane doesn’t feel like the type that is thinking too much about shot location”.
These are all players who have good chances when they’re taking part in a team sport. When they’re shooting by themselves – and remember free kicks aren’t included in this – they’re reducing themselves to the level of Nani, in Costa’s case, and Andros Townsend in the case of the other two.
Calm down lads, and pass the ball maybe. (Alternatively, these three could all be the best long-distance shooters in Europe, in which case carry on).
This article was written with the aid of StrataData, which is a property of Stratagem Technologies. StrataData powers the StrataBet Sports Trading Platform, in addition to StrataBet Premium Recommendations.
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