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Unimportant Goals: Which Teams Score More Of Them?

The first question that the above headline may prompt is: aren't all goals important? No. The fifth goal in a 5-0 win means relatively little, conversely a consolation goal whilst losing 4-0 means little, either. So what would it look like like if we seperated goals scored at close game state from the goals scored when a team is winning by a comfortable margin, or losing by a an uncomfortable margin?

The method I will use here is pretty simple:

Take goals scored at the close game state and divide that number by total goals scored. That will give us a percentage of how many of a teams goals were important.

What is a close game state? Close game state is defined as a tied game, +1 (when a team is leading by the solitary goal) and -1 (when a team is losing by a solitary goal.

Why use close game state? As mentioned it seperates the important and useful game actions from the unimportant actions that happen when a team is either hammeing an opponent or being hammered.

Are there any concerns about the sample size of close game state? Hopefully not. Close game state protects around 80% of the sample and discards only that relatively unimportant 20% of lopsided games. Around 80% of the total shots, shots on target and goal events happen at a close game state, more or less.

Remember we are looking for the teams who score a lower pecentage of their goals at a close game state. Basically, we are looking for the flat track bullies, the stat padders and the weak teams who only score when the opposition are already many goals in the lead.

Percentage Of Goals Scored At Close Game State

Goals %
Liverpool 65.31
Qpr 68.42
Arsenal 69.23
Swansea 71.05
Sunderland 72.41
Wigan 72.73
Norwich 74.07
Chelsea 78.18
Fulham 78.38
Reading 81.82
West Ham 83.87
Man United 85.94
Man City 86.00
Southampton 86.84
Tottenham 87.23
Aston Villa 88.46
Stoke 88.46
West Brom 89.47
Everton 90.24
Newcastle 92.11

80.51% is the league's average

Liverpool are the team who have scored the lowest % of their total goals at the Close Game state. Liverpool have scored 49 goals in the PL this year but just 32 of them have been scored at the CloseGS (a tying goal, a go ahead goal or a goal to ensure the team has a two goal lead). Msjority of Liverpool's unimportant goals have been positive goals (when already leading by a good margin)

QPR have the 2nd lowest %, with 68%. QPR's low % is for reasons far different to Liverpool. Just 13 of QPR's 19 goals have been important and all 6 of those unimportant goals were registered when QPR were being beaten heavily.

Arsenal (flat track bully for the most part) are another team who have posted a low number. The Manchester clubs are pretty close in terms of their respective %'s. Newcatle, with 92.1%, have scored a very high number of their goals when the game really mattered.

Now, let's look at table 1in a different way:


The above viz shows how far above, or below, the average of 80.5% each team actually is.

As stated previously, the percentage of close game state goals scored isn't too harmful to a team like Liverpool or Arsenal, it merely means there is an element of the flat track bully to their goal difference.

Fot teams living with the threat of relegation, like QPR, Sunderland and Wigan, posting a sub-par % of goals scored at close game state means that those teams are being outclassed in games and scoring fewer goals than average when the game is on the line, and instead are scoring goals when already losing by a significant margin.

Thanks for reading, and if there are any questions please let me know. Next time we'll look at goals conceded and how all this information can be used to give us a more relevant goal difference table.