I was thinking some about blocked shots today and whether shot blocking, on a team level, was a skill or simply a function of spending too much time in your own end and blocking shots as a final, desperate measure.
I'm not sure I have a definitive answer to the puzzle above. I've too little data and tiredness aplenty prevents me from thinking too deeply on this subject.
Anyhow, let's have a look at some numbers.
Percentage Of Opponents Shots That Were Blocked (Shot Blocking)
The chart below is straight forward: Shots Blocked/Shots Against
|Defensive Shot Blocking %|
Some teams block a higher percentage of opponents shots, and that's completely normal. The top 6 shot blocking teams in 13/14 are:
Final Third Passes Against
That title is a proxy of sorts for time spent in your own end/own final third. Teams that have a high number of final third passes against are likely poor teams who are pinned into their own end by superior opposition. Agree?
I kind of agree with my own statement. Reasons I may not: Score effects are a thing and likely skew some of these numbers. It's also worth noting that some teams are able to somewhat effectively restrict opposition passes in their own third despite not possessing a huge amount of talent on a team level. In other words, they have pretty good defensive systems. But in general my initial point stands.
Here's looking at you Swansea, Southampton and West Ham. Big Sam was on TV last night extolling the importance of zone entries and restricting opponents in the final third.
|Final 1/3 Passes A|
Look at the top of this table. What do you see?
I see that 5 of the 6 (Hull are 8th worst) best shot blocking teams are also the teams that get pinned in their own end for the most amount of time (proxy).
There's obviously a disconnect here: How can we say that teams are good shot blockers when it appears that shot blocking - raw numbers or percentage stats - has more to do with how much time you are pinned into your own end which really, really isn't a good thing.
So it doesn't look like shot blocking, in general, is a skill which has some separation from how much time you spend in your own final third. Obviously some teams may well exhibit some slight skill in blocking shots, but the best shot blocking teams in the league also tend to be the teams that get hemmed in by their opponents.
Shot blocking as a percentage looks to be more of a last ditch measure rather than a definite skill.
It must be said that without that shot blocking skill teams like Palace, Fulham, Hull & Sunderland would be in far worse positions than they currently sit in. If those shot blocking percentages were lower that would mean things like opposition shots on target numbers would be higher. Higher shots on target against numbers likely lead to more goals against.
Teams who blocked a higher percentage of shots than time spent in their own zone may have predicted:
- West ham