Shot Matrix VI: Player Shooting Data

Laurence Griffiths

I showed in the last piece that there is some signal buried under the noise of player shot conversion. So now I've got a whole bunch of tables with player data. I think most of the effect shown here is variation / team effect / randomness, but for players with a lot of shots, it's worth noting.

One thing I want to do with my shot matrix data is share a lot of it. Last time I used my four-and-a-half season sample of Premier League statistics to identify a weakly persistent but real player tendency to convert shots into goals. Now I'd like to share the data on individual player shooting results. First, I've got everyone who's taken 160 shots or more in the Premier League since 2009.

In my previous study linked above, I found a weak but persistent signal under the noise in player shooting skill for players with at least 100 shots in both the combined 2009-2011 seasons and 2011-2013 seasons. So for players with at least 160 shots, probably some portion of the effect seen reflects real ability.

The other thing this data shows, separately from the possibility of player skill, is player shooting results. Given the chances this player has taken, how many goals should he have scored? How well has he done converting chances, adjusted for chance quality? Obviously I am not in any way accounting for every aspect of chance quality. Until we have SportVU for football, we won't be able to account for defensive positioning, and everyone knows the chance of scoring depends hugely on where the defenders are positioned, how prepared they are for the shot, and so on. I am hopeful that over 160 shots, these factors will significantly even out, but I can't know that.

Still, I think the data is interesting. Here we go:

Player Shooting Data 2009-2013

  • Shots, shots on target and goals are pretty self-explanatory.
  • So is player name.
  • S Conv+ is a rating of the player's finishing of shots, scaled to 100. 100 means the player scored exactly as many goals as expected based on the quality of his chaces, over 100 is above average, below is, well, below.
  • SoT+ is like S Conv+, but instead is a rating of the player's record putting shots on target. Over 100 means the player was above average at placing his shots on target, and vice versa.
  • G/SoT+, then, is scoring rate on shots on target relative to league average.
  • Shot Qual is the average quality of shot taken, expressed in chance of scoring. A .10 Shot Qual means that the player's average chance taken had a 10% chance of being converted into a goal. I'll have more on shot quality below.

PLAYER SHOTS SOT GOALS S CONV+ SOT+ G/SOT+ SHOT QUAL
Wayne Rooney 543 210 69 140 120 120 0.091
Robin van Persie 510 235 82 130 122 109 0.123
Clint Dempsey 450 154 41 104 107 101 0.087
Luis Suárez 421 176 49 119 117 99 0.098
Gareth Bale 403 158 40 143 125 119 0.070
Hugo Rodallega 397 136 23 72 107 68 0.081
Didier Drogba 388 140 41 120 110 111 0.088
Carlos Tévez 370 146 46 125 115 113 0.099
Jermain Defoe 359 140 43 109 109 105 0.110
Frank Lampard 359 125 38 143 115 117 0.074
Fernando Torres 340 127 42 113 104 110 0.110
Dimitar Berbatov 301 122 49 131 111 121 0.125
Demba Ba 296 121 36 115 118 97 0.106
Nani 292 89 22 118 100 124 0.064
Steven Gerrard 292 93 21 118 106 110 0.061
Daniel Sturridge 289 114 39 141 114 121 0.096
Stewart Downing 283 79 12 67 91 74 0.063
Theo Walcott 279 123 34 123 119 103 0.099
Darren Bent 272 118 45 122 113 108 0.136
Peter Crouch 261 101 30 97 110 89 0.119
Andy Carroll 259 84 23 91 100 98 0.098
Sergio Agüero 258 108 40 129 110 124 0.120
Steven Fletcher 258 104 41 144 117 114 0.110
Leon Osman 258 85 17 80 104 83 0.082
Edin Dzeko 241 96 33 122 115 106 0.113
Peter Odemwingie 236 76 28 131 95 131 0.090
Louis Saha 231 72 22 103 95 111 0.092
Charles N'Zogbia 225 78 18 123 110 109 0.065
Ashley Young 223 78 13 82 110 84 0.071
Marouane Fellaini 222 76 17 76 103 74 0.101
Charlie Adam 222 61 11 101 99 103 0.049
Samir Nasri 220 79 22 111 105 105 0.090
Gabriel Agbonlahor 217 87 30 137 116 116 0.101
David Silva 217 76 17 83 102 78 0.095
Kenwyne Jones 212 79 21 88 104 89 0.113
Rafael van der Vaart 211 80 19 112 121 91 0.080
Matthew Taylor 209 63 8 52 96 61 0.074
Chris Brunt 208 47 7 59 79 72 0.057
Yaya Touré 204 66 26 150 101 145 0.085
Emmanuel Adebayor 201 88 33 108 108 101 0.153
Adel Taarabt 201 70 7 77 125 64 0.045
Carlton Cole 200 75 17 76 102 79 0.111
Craig Gardner 199 55 14 124 96 121 0.057
Nicolas Anelka 193 80 18 89 117 77 0.105
Mohamed Diamé 193 47 9 74 82 108 0.063
Cameron Jerome 191 63 21 91 91 95 0.121
Danny Welbeck 191 67 18 86 100 89 0.109
Steven Pienaar 188 60 15 112 102 111 0.071
Luka Modric 187 52 9 76 93 87 0.063
Florent Malouda 186 70 27 150 110 123 0.097
Dirk Kuyt 185 68 18 72 100 74 0.135
Franco Di Santo 185 71 14 91 118 80 0.084
James Morrison 185 52 13 111 96 115 0.063
Andrey Arshavin 184 63 16 101 101 98 0.086
Stéphane Sessegnon 181 57 17 114 98 120 0.083
Robert Huth 180 41 13 63 65 89 0.115
Kevin Doyle 179 53 15 72 84 84 0.116
Victor Moses 179 52 10 63 87 78 0.088
Jonathan Walters 176 56 14 71 90 87 0.113
Jordi Gómez 174 50 8 66 95 77 0.070
Tim Cahill 173 60 19 100 104 93 0.110
Jordan Henderson 172 51 11 89 98 92 0.072
Jamie O'Hara 172 49 7 78 101 82 0.052
Aaron Ramsey 168 55 15 98 97 107 0.091
Kevin Davies 165 48 16 81 82 105 0.120
Johan Elmander 164 51 13 66 86 69 0.120
Bobby Zamora 164 68 22 129 119 109 0.104
Kevin Nolan 163 59 22 88 92 89 0.154
Tom Huddlestone 162 34 4 60 77 76 0.041

There are a lot of things to remark on here, and I'm hoping to hear from all y'all in the comments on individual player ratings that you find interesting, that might be a function of some other effect rather than player skill, whatever.

The one that stands out most to me, having followed him last year, is Adel Taarabt. I think that unlike almost any other EPL player, Taarabt really does just try to put shots on target. Everyone else, pretty much, is trying to score. Taarabt shoots from outside the box, routinely into the keeper's arms, more than any other player I've ever seen. And he does indeed rate above average at SoT+, but he's so incredibly awful at scoring his shots on target that he rates as a very poor finisher overall. Because Taarabt's average chance quality is very poor—in the above table only Tom Huddlestone joins him at under 5% chance quality—he looks like the classic example of a player who wastes possession for little gain.

Stewart Downing is interesting to me. With Liverpool he took tons of shots, 221 from 2011-2013 combined. This season with West Ham, he's taken only 16. Sam Allardyce appears to have recognize what kind of player he has in Downing. (In a future piece, I'll be looking at chance creation quality, and Downing does appear to be one of the better crossers of the ball in the league.) This is not someone who should be shooting.

Shot Quality for Players

I showed in a previous article that average shot quality is a persistent team quality, and particularly a persistent managerial quality. Of course, if the average quality of shots taken remains persistent even for clubs that change their manager, we should think this is a player effect. And it makes sense watching football. Everyone knows that Gareth Bale with take shots from long distance while sometimes also finding himself in good positions in the box, everyone knows that Chicharito just hangs out by the goal and looks for close-range chances. And then there's Andros Townsend, who does nothing but pop from deep. Players have styles of play, which lead to tendencies in what shots they'll attempt and which they won't.

Player_shot_quality_medium
As you can see from the scatter plot to the right, players have strong and distinct tendencies year-to-year to take chances of roughly similar quality. I'm looking at players with just minimum 20 shots in both year 1 and year 2, so this is an effect that shows up in quite small samples. I get a much better correlation, in the range of .80, for players with 75+ shots over multiple seasons.

Now, of course, player tendencies aren't the only thing driving this correlation. There's also tactical effects.

Over on the scatter plot, you can see one dot off to the right edge. In year one, he was just under 0.16, a real penalty box finisher, while in year two he was well below league average at just over .07, numbers that reflect mostly outside-the-box shooting. That's Gylfi Sigurdsson, first with Brendan Rodgers at Swansea City then with Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham Hotspur. AVB converted Sigurdsson to an outside-the-box attacked to make use of the quality of his long-range shot, leading to a totally different average shot quality. I have isolated players who changed teams, and I find that even at a 20 shot sample, player effects remain. But they're notably weaker when separated from manager effects:

Shot_quality_new_team_medium

So let's take a look at players with at least 75 shots total who have the highest and lowest average chance quality.

Players Listed by Chance Quality

Since the shot samples are much smaller now, we shouldn't read too much into the shot conversion rates for players with under 100 shots. That could be randomness, especially for players who take on average low quality chances. But I think the shot quality effects reflect real player tendencies, generally. First, we have our penalty box finishers:

PLAYER SHOTS SOT GOALS S CONV+ SOT+ G/SOT+ SHOT QUAL
Kevin Nolan 163 59 22 88 92 89 0.154
Emmanuel Adebayor 201 88 33 108 108 101 0.153
Javier Hernández 148 69 33 148 119 123 0.151
Ryan Shawcross 94 24 7 52 69 71 0.143
Yakubu 116 48 19 115 108 111 0.142
Darren Bent 272 118 45 122 113 108 0.136
Dirk Kuyt 185 68 18 72 100 74 0.135
DJ Campbell 79 28 14 131 96 142 0.135
John Carew 94 33 10 79 96 81 0.134
Salomon Kalou 115 42 16 105 97 107 0.133
Papiss Demba Cissé 136 57 20 113 111 101 0.130
Branislav Ivanovic 125 44 14 87 99 82 0.129
Danny Graham 125 62 14 87 132 70 0.128
Arouna Koné 95 38 11 91 106 89 0.127
Grant Holt 126 48 20 127 105 122 0.125
Dimitar Berbatov 301 122 49 131 111 121 0.125
Robin van Persie 510 235 82 130 122 109 0.123
Emile Heskey 76 25 7 75 92 75 0.123
Shane Long 98 47 18 151 131 113 0.122
Olivier Giroud 154 57 17 91 100 92 0.121
Cameron Jerome 191 63 21 91 91 95 0.121
Johan Elmander 164 51 13 66 86 69 0.120
Kevin Davies 165 48 16 81 82 105 0.120
Sergio Agüero 258 108 40 129 110 124 0.120
Romelu Lukaku 133 68 23 145 141 102 0.120
Nicklas Bendtner 134 48 15 94 99 99 0.119
Peter Crouch 261 101 30 97 110 89 0.119
Kevin Doyle 179 53 15 72 84 84 0.116
Christopher Samba 126 46 10 69 102 69 0.115
Robert Huth 180 41 13 63 65 89 0.115
Roger Johnson 81 18 2 22 67 34 0.113
Kenwyne Jones 212 79 21 88 104 89 0.113
Andrew Johnson 88 43 6 60 132 50 0.113
Maxi Rodríguez 107 40 15 124 104 107 0.113
Jonathan Walters 176 56 14 71 90 87 0.113
Edin Dzeko 241 96 33 122 115 106 0.113
Carlton Cole 200 75 17 76 102 79 0.111
Tim Cahill 173 60 19 100 104 93 0.110
Steven Fletcher 258 104 41 144 117 114 0.110
Jermain Defoe 359 140 43 109 109 105 0.110
Nikica Jelavic 126 53 15 108 119 93 0.110
Fernando Torres 340 127 42 113 104 110 0.110
Danny Welbeck 191 67 18 86 100 89 0.109
Ricardo Fuller 107 41 7 60 105 62 0.109
David Ngog 132 49 10 70 104 69 0.108
Gary Cahill 127 45 14 103 105 110 0.107
Demba Ba 296 121 36 115 118 97 0.106
Nicolas Anelka 193 80 18 89 117 77 0.105
Michu 140 49 20 137 105 129 0.104
Bobby Zamora 164 68 22 129 119 109 0.104
Martin Skrtel 81 18 8 96 67 124 0.103
Andreas Weimann 113 43 10 86 110 88 0.103
Frédéric Piquionne 111 34 8 71 87 80 0.101
Gabriel Agbonlahor 217 87 30 137 116 116 0.101
Marouane Fellaini 222 76 17 76 103 74 0.101
John Terry 97 33 17 174 107 160 0.101
Thomas Vermaelen 101 29 13 128 86 152 0.100
Anthony Pilkington 99 41 14 141 122 127 0.100

You get a combination here of defenders who mostly attempt headers from set pieces and penalty box strikers / poachers. Kevin Nolan is definitely the right person to head this group up. And here are the long-range speculators:

PLAYER SHOTS SOT GOALS S CONV+ SOT+ G/SOT+ SHOT QUAL
Andros Townsend 82 22 3 105 102 106 0.035
Aleksandar Kolarov 116 28 4 97 89 102 0.036
Cheik Tioté 81 16 1 34 76 44 0.037
Tom Huddlestone 162 34 4 60 77 76 0.041
Mark Noble 84 22 2 57 96 62 0.041
Maynor Figueroa 110 20 3 65 67 95 0.042
John Arne Riise 82 17 72 0.042
Alessandro Diamanti 96 34 3 74 128 57 0.042
Glenn Whelan 105 16 3 67 56 137 0.042
Darron Gibson 90 20 4 100 82 127 0.044
Adel Taarabt 201 70 7 77 125 64 0.045
Phillip Bardsley 79 16 6 166 74 254 0.046
Leighton Baines 131 30 8 131 81 150 0.047
Stilian Petrov 105 28 5 102 96 97 0.047
Morten Gamst Pedersen 140 42 10 152 106 132 0.047
Yohan Cabaye 142 47 11 159 117 146 0.049
Graham Dorrans 110 33 4 75 106 70 0.049
Martin Petrov 154 45 7 93 101 92 0.049
David Luiz 88 26 6 139 108 129 0.049
Charlie Adam 222 61 11 101 99 103 0.049
Joey Barton 105 24 5 94 81 106 0.051
Sebastian Larsson 154 62 15 189 140 137 0.052
Jamie O\'Hara 172 49 7 78 101 82 0.052
Mikel Arteta 134 37 14 193 98 158 0.054
Bradley Johnson 90 20 3 61 78 66 0.055
Hatem Ben Arfa 104 30 10 175 98 152 0.055
Chris Eagles 156 51 6 69 113 66 0.056
Adam Johnson 153 52 16 186 114 155 0.056
Craig Gardner 199 55 14 124 96 121 0.057
Chris Brunt 208 47 7 59 79 72 0.057
Marc Wilson 82 9 1 21 39 72 0.057
Victor Obinna 77 22 3 68 96 66 0.057
Scott Parker 116 32 8 119 94 131 0.058
Raul Meireles 115 35 7 105 103 96 0.058
James Milner 144 44 11 130 103 130 0.059
Robert Snodgrass 94 33 7 126 121 111 0.059
Steven Gerrard 292 93 21 118 106 110 0.061
Mohamed Diamé 193 47 9 74 82 108 0.063
Stewart Downing 283 79 12 67 91 74 0.063
James Morrison 185 52 13 111 96 115 0.063
Michael Carrick 100 22 6 95 75 125 0.063
Luka Modric 187 52 9 76 93 87 0.063
Nani 292 89 22 118 100 124 0.064
Mousa Dembélé 138 46 6 68 112 59 0.064
James McCarthy 109 28 7 100 86 99 0.064
Charles N'Zogbia 225 78 18 123 110 109 0.065
Shaun Wright-Phillips 138 33 5 56 74 72 0.065
Niko Kranjcar 93 31 9 148 111 123 0.065
Santiago Cazorla 131 47 13 150 121 121 0.066
Michael Essien 108 30 6 83 94 105 0.067
Ashley Cole 80 22 5 93 86 95 0.067
Damien Duff 157 54 15 143 111 126 0.067
Nathan Dyer 110 42 10 135 121 116 0.067
Martin Olsson 78 26 3 57 108 47 0.067
Youssuf Mulumbu 106 21 10 137 65 171 0.069
Jonás Gutiérrez 102 23 6 85 75 127 0.069
Gareth Bale 403 158 40 143 125 119 0.070
Jerome Thomas 90 24 4 64 84 70 0.070

Yup, that be Andros Townsend at the very top, no one with over 75 shots in the EPL 2009-2013 has taken on average worse quality shots than Townsend. His conversion rate is actually ok, since he scored a pair of his long-range attempts last year with Queens Park Rangers. But his average shot quality is so bad that three goals in 82 shots in a slightly above average rate.

I do think it's interesting how wide a range you see in the quality of finishing among long-range shooters. We should expect more random variation among players who take more speculative shots, as just one goal can change the numbers drastically. Sandro improved from a roughly 70 rating before his goal against United all the way up to 90 with one strike. But I think it's probably meaningful that among the best long-range shooters we see Yohan Cabaye, Leighton Baines, Hatem Ben Arfa and of course Gareth Bale. And you can see a good number of guys on this list whom you just don't get worried about when they take a long range shot against your club.

Players of Spurs Interest

Finally, I mean, this is a Spurs blog. You're wondering about Pav, aren't you? Well, the numbers might surprise you. Roman Pavlyuchenko scored 15 goals on 120 shots, a rate of 12.5%. His chances were of only average quality, about 8.5%. So Pav, contrary to his joking image, was actually well above average at finishing during his time with Spurs. So there you go. Here's a whole bunch more Spurs or Spurs-adjunct players:

PLAYER SHOTS SOT GOALS S CONV+ SOT+ G/SOT+ SHOT QUAL
Clint Dempsey 450 154 41 104 107 101 0.087
Gareth Bale 403 158 40 143 125 119 0.070
Jermain Defoe 359 140 43 109 109 105 0.110
Dimitar Berbatov 301 122 49 131 111 121 0.125
Darren Bent 272 118 45 122 113 108 0.136
Peter Crouch 261 101 30 97 110 89 0.119
Rafael van der Vaart 211 80 19 112 121 91 0.080
Adel Taarabt 201 70 7 77 125 64 0.045
Emmanuel Adebayor 201 88 33 108 108 101 0.153
Luka Modric 187 52 9 76 93 87 0.063
Tom Huddlestone 162 34 4 60 77 76 0.041
Mousa Dembélé 138 46 6 68 112 59 0.064
Roman Pavlyuchenko 120 41 15 144 107 153 0.087
Scott Parker 116 32 8 119 94 131 0.058
Aaron Lennon 101 34 13 152 101 159 0.085
Michael Carrick 100 22 6 95 75 125 0.063
Gylfi Sigurdsson 97 36 10 110 114 105 0.094
Younes Kaboul 95 21 5 64 71 73 0.082
Andros Townsend 82 22 3 105 102 106 0.035
Steed Malbranque 75 21     96   0.058
Kyle Walker 73 13 4 117 64 226 0.047
Sandro 73 17 3 89 86 119 0.046
Benoit Assou-Ekotto 64 14 4 154 81 172 0.041
Jermaine Jenas 50 11 3 95 75 129 0.063
Michael Dawson 48 12 4 99 81 125 0.084
Jan Vertonghen 48 14 4 117 97 122 0.071
Robbie Keane 46 23 8 100 117 89 0.174
Paulinho 38 13 1 25 101 23 0.106
William Gallas 36 11 4 65 78 79 0.170
Steven Caulker 35 14 4 90 116 83 0.128
Kyle Naughton 31 9     110   0.035
Roberto Soldado 25 8 1 30 85 36 0.132
Ledley King 25 5 2 78 65 132 0.103

Obviously players from this season we know have been terrible at finishing. With under 50 shots total in the database, we should be very careful about drawing conclusions. Player shooting skill only starts to raise its head above the noise at samples well over 100 shots. But there you go.

End data dump.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Cartilage Free Captain

You must be a member of Cartilage Free Captain to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Cartilage Free Captain. You should read them.

Join Cartilage Free Captain

You must be a member of Cartilage Free Captain to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Cartilage Free Captain. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker