Cornering the xG market

Man United concede the most xG per corner in the Premier League. Chelsea the least.

In practical terms it means that United should be expecting to concede a goal from a corner situation once every three games. For Chelsea it’s more like every six games. Considering they both concede corners at similar rates, that’s quite a big deal.

How does that look? Like this:

You can see the glut of chances that United concede firmly in their 6 yard box. Chelsea have conceded just one.

I look at this and immediately think: Thibaut

So I check the numbers and find that on average, keepers have come and got something on the ball at corner situations around 8% of the time this season in the Premier League.

Courtois has done this 11% of the time this season and De Gea 5%. But in reality that works out to just 7 extra corners from around 130 of the buggers for both of them.

I had a quick look at some footage off them against Everton. Everton have a pretty standard pattern of having 3 or 4 vertically lining up to start with just to the right side of the penalty spot.

There’s similarities between United and Chelsea dealing with it (a fairly standard 3 man zonal set up at the near post area) but for me there’s a big difference in defensive starting positions and shape between the 6 yard box and penalty spot.

United go tighter man for man straight away, and get themselves into some weird higgledy piggeldy positions from the off (sometimes even in a vertical line) and at least half of them are eyeing man instead of ball. The body shape goes off for when the delivery comes in, and their blocking is ineffective. It all ends in a mess pretty regularly, making it extremely difficult to attack the ball. The starting positions are easier to see in stills:

Contrast this with Chelsea getting themselves in a nice line (going man for man numbers wise) and giving themselves room to attack the ball.

Because Chelsea are not stupidly tight from the off, following the Everton players all over. The Everton attackers are less inclined to starburst as they’d have to go into wider areas. Chelsea retain control of the situation.

This post was intended to be about Everton v Brighton this weekend but I got distracted. However, Brighton are god awful at defending corners too. They’ve been dismal at preventing good shots on target from opposition on corners

So how do Brighton set up defensively at corners? Like United or Chelsea?

Posted in Sports

February Tweetbag

Questions from twitter…

My models tie in with the players most people would suggest: Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah. De Bruyne has absolutely blitzed his expected assist totals. Ozil might have created more but Kev’s are getting converted. Salah has also very done well in this category:

Then comes Salah’s goalscoring exploits. Unbelievable stuff:

De Bruyne’s no where near this list but that’s down to their different roles. Also, De Bruyne has scored twice as many (6) as the average player would have (3) from the shots he’s taken this season so he’s doing pretty well.

Both score well in my passing model too. De Bruyne is king of nailing the difficult pass and is much more heavily involved in the play than Salah, but the Egyptian is less wasteful.

If I had to choose, I’d go Salah.

Anyone else worthy of a mention? Sure…

Raheem Sterling has had a brilliant season so far. Check out the two tables above. He’s also a Top 20 passer according to my model. England do have some exceptionally good young talent at their disposal for the World Cup this summer.

On the defensive side, Tottenham’s left looks exceptional. Jan Vertonghen and Ben Davies have been great at squeezing up on the opposition, especially considering central midfield for Spurs has been much weaker this season. Davies has contributed going forward too, and has blossomed into the best attacking left back in the league. You know what, you can probably scrap the ‘attacking’ bit there.

18 months ago, I’d have laughed at the suggestion that Davies would be the best left back in the league. The models I’ve built suggest he is, though, and looking at him play, I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch.

Talking of good left backs it would be churlish not to mention another one I didn’t think much of having seen him quite a bit for Hull last season. This season, for Liverpool, my by-now pesky models are highlighting Andrew Robertson’s defensive strength and ability on the ball.

At Hull, his crossing was a highlight (or lowlight depending on how you look at it) and his decision making on the ball seemed suspect. He looks a damn sight better under different management, next to better players and with less pressure on him to be the creative one on his flank.

Special mention also for Mr Paul Pogba. Up for some stick from fans and media, my models suggest he’s a fairly monstrous (in a good way) player, and that perhaps Manchester United’s lobsided wide set-ups on both flanks are undermining his abilities.

Next question?

I reckon what I’ve written above qualifies. But just in case it doesn’t, the most positive thing I can say is that Charlie’s boss is another game closer to getting the boot after today. Love you, Charles x

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