Each year I have taken a look at how goals are scored in various elite leagues around the world using my own criteria regarding, in my opinion, the dominant pattern of play  leading to the goal. This season my survey involved

EPL                                                                  278 games featuring 724 goals

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE                    92 games featuring 241 goals

AUSTRALIAN 'A' LEAGUE                        103 games featuring 314 goals

Due to my own unique definition of the goal scoring categories, these results cannot be compared with other statistical surveys but, rather, only against  previous years results from similar studies I have done. For example, with our very own AFCAT member Ron Smith's extensive work on this topic, Ron has collated the goals into far less categories focusing on topics such as "Balls played in behind defenders" and goals from "Passes in front of defenders". Also, our differences in the definition of the area of the field where a designated cross originates from give our analysis results further areas of disagreement. However here are the results from this season's survey.

Categories I have attempted to divide the goals into are

Set Plays- Corners, Free Kicks- both Direct and Indirect, Penalties, Throw Ins

Counter Attacks

Diagonal and Thru Balls

Individual Brilliance

Long Range Shots- from outside the 18 yard box

Crosses

Cut Backs

Defensive Mistakes

Goalkeeper Mistakes

Own Goals

Combination Play- Wall passes, Overlaps, Take Overs, Crossovers, Third Man Runs

Rebounds

Shot- Cannot specify any category for this goal

Each year, I realise I am probably attempting  far too many categories and that there is also some subjectivity to certain goals scored but for the purpose of comparisons with previous years, I have continued with this exercise. Future attempts, though, to analyse goals may certainly come with adjustments.

RESULTS SHOWING DOMINANT FACTORS- ABOVE 5% WITHIN EACH SURVEY

EPL- 724 Goals in 278 games- Average 2.60 goals per game

SET PLAYS                                192 Goals       26.5%

CROSSES                                   132 Goals       18.2%

THRU / DIAG BALLS             111 Goals        15.3%

LR SHOT                                     64 Goals         8.9%

COMBINATION PLAY             56 Goals         7.7%

COUNTER ATTACKS               54 Goals        7.5%

 

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGE- 241 Goals in 92 Games- Average 2.61 goals per game

CROSSES                                     50 Goals       20.7%

SET PLAYS                                  49 Goals       20.3%

THRU / DIAG BALLS               43 Goals       17.8%

INDIVIDUAL BRILLIANCE    19 Goals         7.8%

COUNTER ATTACK                  18 Goals         7.4%

COMBINATION PLAY              17 Goals         7.0%

LONG RANGE SHOTS              12 Goals        5.0%

 

AUSTRALIAN 'A' LEAGUE- 314 Goals in 103 Games- Average 3.04 goals per game

SET PLAYS                                    85 Goals       27.2%

CROSSES                                       47 Goals       15.0%

THRU/ DIAG BALLS                  37 Goals       11.8%

COUNTER ATTACK                   36 Goals        11.4%

INDIVIDUAL BRILLIANCE     24 Goals        7.6%

LONG RANGE SHOT                20 Goals        6.3%

COMBINATION PLAY              18 Goals        5.6%

 

SOME INITIAL OBSERVATIONS FROM ABOVE RESULTS and PREVIOUS SEASONS

  • Corners followed by Penalties were still the most dominant ways of scoring goals from all SET PLAYS
  • Crosses still appear to be an effective way to score goals and difficult for defenders to defend against
  • Over the past six seasons, from these results, it appears the same categories have dominated goal scoring patterns in games with the top four categories consistently showing each year. Does this then mean that football is becoming a predictable game???
  • The 'A' League appears to have embraced, this season, a more attacking style of play with the highest goals per game ratio since it's inception. Counter Attacks have doubled on the previous year which further highlights the shift in coaches attack minded game plans and encouraging players to get the ball forward quicker. This has lead, in my opinion, to a more attractive game to watch for the fans- both the Prelim and Grand Final games were quality games to watch and enjoyed by the 'neutral fan'.
  • Diagonal and through balls, associated with forward runs by team mates, are still one of the most effective ways to score goals. Coaches should continue to encourage players, when possible and at the appropriate time, to look forward and play forward ( direct play) rather than just keeping the ball ( possession).
  • Systems of Play and Formations will come and go, like fashions, but it appears from these statistics that goals will continue to be scored via the same methods.