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
Diagonal and Thru Balls
Long Range Shots- from outside the 18 yard box
Combination Play- Wall passes, Overlaps, Take Overs, Crossovers, Third Man Runs
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.