The Number Game Part I: Goals, Shots & Strikers

It’s just the start of another interlull and I am already missing the action. Normally this would be the time for looking ahead at a mid week cup tie. Thoughts are focused on football, results and the implications of whatever happens on the pitch. But when you take away all the action, what can a football addict do except suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

I thought the best way for me to avoid the pain is to delve a little deeper into the numbers of the season so far. We have played enough games to get some trends. In this article I am comparing some statistics of the main strikers from the big teams. I have chosen Arshavin as our second striker while the other six choices are quite obvious.

The following table shows the comparison

strikers stats comparison 10 nov 2009

(c) DesiGunner

M:Matches; Min:Minutes Played; G:Goals; A:Assists; S:Total Shots; SoT:Shots on Target; Min/G: Minutes per Goal; Min/A: Minutes per Assist; %SoT: SoT/S; S/G: Shots per goal; S/M: Shots per Match; Min/S: Minutes per Shot

Clearly, Torres, RvP and Drogba are way ahead of everyone else. Rooney has failed to make a single assist after moving into a central role. All three second strikers have lower number of goals and assists, which is understandable.

Fernando Torres is probably the most lethal striker in the world at the moment. He is scoring a goal every 81 minutes. In other words he is doing better than a goal a game if you consider 90 minutes for each game. He also has the best shots to goals ratio proving the quality of his finishing talent. But Liverpool are struggling at the moment, so I will not look at his performance in detail. I had to put his numbers in for the sake of perspective and respect.

Shooting Stats

Drogba has taken the most number of pops at goal with 73 shots. He has also worked the opposition goal keeper 32 times.  The best playactor in football also has an impressive 44 per cent success in hitting the target. Berbatov and Anelka have a remarkable rate of hitting the target as well, with close to half their shots drawing a save.

Drogba and Rooney are averaging around 6 attempts per game. RvP is around 75 per cent of that mark. Arshavin, at 2.4, has the lowest shots per match ratio. Surprisingly, Berbatov and Anelka are only taking half the number of shots compared to their leading strikers.

Arshavin only takes a crack at goal every half an hour. That is over twice the rate of Drogba and Rooney. Van Persie takes a pop every 19 minutes.

Our strikers have lesser number of shots than their counterparts. I guess it is understandable as our players move around and change their positions quite often. But Van Persie and Arshavin have a lower success rate when it comes to hitting the target. They are closer to one in three. Perhaps, they could look at improving on their accuracy.

Goals & Assists

Drogba is scoring a goal every 116 minutes i.e. better than 3 goals every 4 games. Van Persie and Rooney are scoring closer to two goals every three matches. Arshavin and Berbatov are scoring every other game while Anelka is closer to one in three.

Our strikers have better shots per goal ratios when compared to their counterparts. RvP scores with just over 7 attempts. Drogba(8) and Rooney (9) are just behind. Arshavin has a fantastic ratio of scoring after 5.5 attempts. Anelka has the worst ratio suggesting that he might be taking more shots from distance.

These stats suggest that Arshavin should be encouraged to go for goal more often.

Apart from the Ivorian and the Dutchman, only the Frenchman has made some assists. The others have somewhat disappointing returns in this department. I am especially surprised that our Russian magician hasn’t picked up more.


We might score even more goals if our strikers can bring their shooting accuracy on par with their counterparts. I have a feeling we haven’t seen the best of Arshavin this season and he will deliver when the time is ripe.

Amongst the others, Berbatov looks like a colossal waste of money and Ancelotti hasn’t made the best use of Anelka’s talents. Torres stands between Liverpool and disaster. Drogba will always be a disgrace no matter what the stats say.

8 Responses to The Number Game Part I: Goals, Shots & Strikers

  1. Karthi says:

    Lovely article again! I feel Torres is a bit overrated.
    So he has a better min/goal.. but if you observe he scored 3 goals against hull and then goes missing for a game or two then again pop’s up 2 goals in one game then again goes missing for 2 games.
    RVP and Drogba score or assist nearly every game!

    Overall a superb article and I agree Arshavin has still not reached his height’s but he is still right up there even when not at his best!
    I think he will be the key during the latter half of our season cuz all know how dangerous he can be.

    • desigunner says:

      You have made a good point about Torres scoring in chunks and patches. But I think we haven’t seen him play in a truly high quality attacking team, which might make a difference.

    • anup says:

      torres is not over rated..he’s probably the best striker in pl……respect the class…

  2. BayGooner says:

    Hurrah! Someone who thinks stats can illuminate.

    May I suggest you add one more column to your table — I won’t name it, leave that to you — but it would be the percentage of Shots on Target that go in. Drogba is at 30%, while Robin and Torres exceed 50%, and Arshavin is at 50%.

    Some of this is a function of team philosophy — clearly, Arsenal don’t want to give the ball away foolishly, while Chelsea and Man U are happy to wastefully shoot all the time. It’s a different style.

    As for our accuracy being poorer, I’d say it is not. If you look at Goals per shots taken (Shots per Goal), there is not much difference, except that Rooney is weaker than the others, and Arshavin and Robin are the best.

    Also suggest you consider points (goals + assists) per minute, per game, etc. The point with these players is they are out there to produce goals — football is a function of producing goals and preventing goals, and statistics which can illuminate one or the other, or both, are ones which will show the true hierarchy. To me, it is clear that Torres is tops at scoring goals, but Robin and Drogba are players who also create chances for others, so are more productive and influential on their teams.

    • desigunner says:

      I agree with you about Goals per shots on target. I had thought about putting it in but the image was going beyond the width of the page. Our players certainly do well on that front. And as you said, it is possible that we create better chances.

      The only accuracy where I felt we were not as good as the others was on the shots to shots on target ratio. From the goals point of view we are doing quite well.

      I left out the goals + assists analysis as only two players had a high number of assists. But your point about the overall influence of RvP and Drogba is valid.

  3. gooner ji says:

    Good article again. I think you are putting in a great effort and this blog will be a big success.

    People talk about accuracy in front of goal, what about Vermaelen’s accuracy in front of goal. I think he has the highest shot accuracy for us this season.

  4. cgooner says:

    good article

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