The discussion and debate continues about how much credit to give defenders for a block or how much we should debit attackers for being daft enough to try and shoot through gaps they really shouldn’t have.
@benjaminpugsley and @danny_pugsley were talking about blocks on Twitter the other day – specifically in relation to what kind of shots (in terms of where they’re taken from) get blocked most. We realised we had some data on it to share. Having just looked again, however, so did the great Mr Taylor almost a year ago!
Still, we’ll share our findings as the methodology’s slightly different. Here’s the % of shots from each area that are blocked:
That’s taken from the first 2500ish shots of this season in the Premier League. It’s plainly far harder to block a shot from the most dangerous striking zone than it is from the angle or from distance. That’s why most goals are scored from there, right? If the player taking the shot is further out there’s likely to be more bodies in the way, yes?
We’ve thought about this an unhealthy amount over the last couple of days and have just gone round in circles. The way blocks are recorded isn’t helpful. There’s no real way of telling whether they were going in or not. We ended up simply saying that for a block to occur, the shot must have been dangerous enough, or at least seemed dangerous enough for a defender to have dealt with.
Why is it so damn hard to block a shot in the central area of the box? Does this mean the closer the shot is to goal the more the attacker is in control of the situation? We haven’t got the numbers but it seems likely that the majority of these shots are created from crosses or angled balls in. These are difficult to defend. A hit from distance is likely to occur when defences are set and the ball is in front of them.
We can merely speculate as to the reasons why for now, but it’s clear that all blocks aren’t born equal. What we can do with this information, however, is start to value each block more accurately depending on where the shot was taken from. Even then, though, a team’s quality and defensive style must be taken into account.
So that didn’t clear that up then…