Spurs’ Problem? Shot Placement

I don’t write about other teams too often, but Spurs’ lack of goals this season fascinates me. I have looked into shot placement data many times in the past, and a look at Spurs’ stats (via Squawka) suggests this could be a significant part of their problem.

Just two teams have scored fewer league goals than Tottenham this season, and but for their three penalties, Spurs would have bagged the joint-fewest strikes. Yet they’ve had more shots on target (73) than any other side in the division, so why so few goals?

Poor shot placement.

Spurs SPThe chart here excludes Spurs’ spots kicks, and tells a real tale of goalscoring woe; firing 45.71% of your on-target shots in to the central third of the goal is simply terrible.

When I wrote this piece in 2012 when Liverpool were really struggling to score goals, the Reds were putting 41.5% of their shots centrally, so the data suggests that Spurs are having the same goal scoring problem for the same reason.

The main culprits appear to have been the possibly over-rated Andros Townsend, and the seemingly over-priced Roberto Soldado.

AT and RSLook at how many of his shots Townsend puts in to areas that are comfortable for a goalkeeper. By my estimate, nine of his fifteen on target efforts are central, and low to boot; manna from heaven for a goalkeeper.

Soldado’s chart looks a little better, but then it does include his three penalties, which went towards the low corners of the goal as you would expect. Ignore the spotkicks and four of his eight efforts within the frame of the goal are in areas where it would usually be a surprise to score.

Naturally, as a Liverpool fan I am being somewhat biased with my next chart, but look at where Luis Suárez has placed his shots this season.


The Uruguayan has only put a couple of efforts ‘down the keeper’s throat’ as they say, and has generally hit his shots slightly lower and more towards the corners than the aforementioned Spurs pairing. It has obviously worked, as Suárez has scored more goals from open play than the entire Spurs team, and he has only played six games too.

I’m sure Tottenham will enjoy some regression to the mean, and bag a few more goals in the weeks to come, but I think this data illustrates well why they’re struggling for goals right now.

Related articles you might like:

Shot Placement: The Suárez Show – Liverpool beat Norwich City 3-0 at Carrow Road, and this explains why.

Shot Placement: Gerrard’s Impact Against Everton – The captain bagged a hat-trick against the Toffees, but what part did his shot placement play in that?

How Important Is Shot Placement? – Proving that Liverpool’s shooting has been poor this season, in an article for The Tomkins Times.

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6 thoughts on “Spurs’ Problem? Shot Placement

  1. Good comparison. I was searching for goals scored by Spurs in 2013 which brought me to this.
    There is this joke going around on Twitter which compares goals scored by Ronaldo as compared to various PL teams, was really shocked to see that Spurs have just 39 goals(22 less than Liverpool!). I wonder how many of them have been scored by Bale or penalties?
    This is a pretty consistent drought for them considering the squad they have.

  2. Pingback: Goals (Short and Long Term) | Bass Tuned To Red

  3. Pingback: Spurs v Liverpool Preview | Bass Tuned To Red

  4. Pingback: 2012 and 2013: Chalk and Cheese | Bass Tuned To Red

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