2nd Mar 2022 | Football

Football Form: Shots On Target

We examine if there is a better way to judge a team’s performance other than the score line.

For the majority of football fans the most obvious form guide to a team’s performance is their results. We are constantly told how football is a ‘results business’ but with that information so readily available it’s difficult to find a betting edge. In horse racing the holy grail is finding a horse that has performed better than the bare form and will be under-bet next time out. Can we do the same in football?

The excellent Shots On Target website explains the limitations of a scoreline as a measure of performance. A 1-0 result can be attained by ‘parking the bus’ and fluking a winning goal, but the same scoreline could see a team dominate the game but find an inspired goalkeeper keeping the score down.

A better way to interpret the balance of play is the ‘shots on target’ statistic. Over the last three and a half seasons, a Premier League team scores on average every 3.59 shots on goal.

Goals per shots on target
shots on target

Data taken from
*2012/13 data correct to 23 Dec 2012

In theory the more shots on target a team has, the more goals they score and the more points they gain. Although be aware that in the Premier League there is a vast difference in the ‘shots on target’ of individual teams. Last season Man City averaged 6.6 shots on target per game, whereas Stoke managed only 2.5.

The idea of this analysis isn’t to predict how many shots each team will have in future games, instead it is a retrospective analysis. We will examine past matches to see if the results were reflective of the balance of play.

If we can find a team that lost a match they ‘won’ in terms of shots on target, they might be under bet in the future. People’s expectations could be biased by a result that wasn’t reflective of the team’s performance.

Matchday 18

Odds correct at time of publishing: 18:02 2nd Mar, 2022 but subject to change

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