2012/13 Halfway Point Analysis: Importance of the first goal

Stu Forster

This is a topic I've visited a number of times on the blog, particularly when espousing its importance as the foundation to City's dominating home record since the start of the 2010/11 season. It is also something that shuddertothink looked at Premier League-wide in his recap of the 2011/12 numbers.

Team records when scoring first


Win Draw Loss Total
Arsenal 8 2 0 10
Aston Villa 4 3 2 9
Chelsea 9 2 1 12
Everton 4 4 1 9
Fulham 5 2 2 9
Liverpool 6 2 2 10
Man City 8 1 0 9
Man Utd 7 1 0 8
Newcastle 5 2 2 9
Norwich 6 2 2 10
QPR 1 1 2 4
Reading 0 4 2 6
Southampton 3 4 2 9
Stoke 4 3 1 8
Sunderland 5 3 2 10
Swansea 6 0 0 6
Tottenham 9 2 3 14
West Brom 10 0 1 11
West Ham 5 0 2 7
Wigan 3 2 0 5


It is evident that the majority of teams post healthy records, with the vast majority winning at least 50% of the games they take the lead in. Notable exceptions are Southampton (who have lost just two but have let the lead slip four times in nine games), Reading (who have failed to go on to win in six occasions), QPR (although they have taken the lead just four times) and Everton (whose record contrasts with that when they fall behind)

We can see that West Brom and Swansea have performed well to help them sustain strong league positions and the 'big' sides unsurprisingly prove dominant when gaining an advantage, whilst Newcastle's record illustrates quite how poor they have been in recouping anything from losing positions.

%'s when scoring first

The following table illustrates the above but in percentage form:


win% draw% loss%
Arsenal 80.00 20.00 0.00
Aston Villa 44.44 33.33 22.22
Chelsea 75.00 16.67 8.33
Everton 44.44 44.44 11.11
Fulham 55.56 22.22 22.22
Liverpool 60.00 20.00 20.00
Man City 88.88 11.11 0.00
Man Utd 87.50 12.50 0.00
Newcastle 55.55 22.22 22.22
Norwich 60.00 20.00 20.00
QPR 25.00 25.00 50.00
Reading 0.00 66.67 33.33
Southampton 33.33 44.44 22.22
Stoke 50.00 37.50 12.50
Sunderland 50.00 30.00 20.00
Swansea 100.00 0.00 0.00
Tottenham 64.29 14.29 21.43
West Brom 90.90 0.00 9.10
West Ham 71.43 0.00 28.57
Wigan 60.00 40.00 0.00


Win draw and lose %

We can now see Premier League record what the overall record is based on a side scoring first:

108 40 27



61.71% 22.85% 15.42%


Here we can see how important scoring first is in particular to avoiding defeat and may well indicate quite why some teams - particularly those away from home - place such a high premium on stifling the play and attempting to stop the opposition. Put simply, if you score first in the Premier League in 2012/13 you avoid defeat 84.56% of the time and win over 60% of games.

What is noticeable though is this does differ from the 2011/12 (full season) numbers where sides were more likely to go on to win when scoring first (70.79%), drawing less (16.73%) and losing slightly fewer (12.39%), meaning that although sides are not particularly losing more games when they have gone ahead they are failing to go on to win games by a noticeably lower margin. It will be of interest to see how the halfway numbers compare to those at the season end.

As a footnote it is worth reiterating quite how phenomenal United's return has been given they have fallen behind in ten games at the halfway point. Their record when doing so? Won eight and lost two to see a return of 24 points when taking the league as a barometer they should have lost six of these games or 63.14% above expectancy.

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