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The Halfway Point In 2013/14: Zone Efficiency

Zone efficiency is an experimental stat that needs far more work and testing than I have time to give to it. Alas, I'll publish anyway and hopefully readers can follow my train of thought as I explain the following numbers

Zone efficiency takes the amount of minutes each PL team spends in the attacking zone and the defensive zone and divides that number by the amount of shots for and against each team has taken.

An example: Team X has spent 510 minutes in the attacking zone and has taken 340 shots. That works out at 0.666 shots per minute of attacking zone time.

Basically, I am trying to capture how efficient teams are at recording shots whilst factoring in how many minutes that team has spent in the attacking zone. I will look at both attacking efficiency and defensive efficiency.

Still following? Obviously there will have been the odd crazy cat who has taken a shot or two from outside the attacking zone (final third) but we'll have to pretend such shots didn't take place! in any case, long distance shots of that nature are likely extremely rare and thus won't affect these results.

Zone Efficiency Using Total Shots

Shots For per minute Shots Against per min plus/minus
Man City 0.666 0.467 0.199
Tottenham 0.63 0.472 0.158
Liverpool 0.666 0.518 0.148
Chelsea 0.599 0.463 0.136
Newcastle 0.638 0.521 0.117
Southampton 0.527 0.411 0.116
Everton 0.566 0.479 0.087
Arsenal 0.546 0.502 0.044
Swansea 0.553 0.521 0.032
Aston Villa 0.536 0.544 -0.008
Palace 0.469 0.48 -0.011
Man United 0.501 0.534 -0.033
West Brom 0.495 0.537 -0.042
Stoke 0.483 0.558 -0.075
Hull 0.492 0.571 -0.079
Sunderland 0.528 0.609 -0.081
Norwich 0.501 0.622 -0.122
West Ham 0.468 0.64 -0.173
Fulham 0.456 0.651 -0.196
Cardiff 0.453 0.662 -0.209


Good: Southampton, Chelsea, Man City and Spurs concede the fewest shots per minute of zone time.

Bad: Cardiff, Fulham, West Ham and Norwich.


Good: Man City, Liverpool, Newcastle and Tottenham

Bad: Cardiff, Fulham, West Ham and Palace.

So, when factoring in time spent in the attacking/defensive zones the rate stats look pretty good. They pass the so called 'smell test'.

Now let's take the same method but use shots on target instead of total shots.

Zone Efficiency Using Shots On Target

SoT For per min SoT Against per min plus/minus
Man City 0.243 0.16 0.083
Liverpool 0.254 0.18 0.073
Everton 0.216 0.149 0.067
Chelsea 0.209 0.147 0.062
Southampton 0.186 0.126 0.06
Arsenal 0.224 0.175 0.049
Newcastle 0.21 0.184 0.026
Swansea 0.193 0.169 0.023
Tottenham 0.202 0.192 0.01
Man United 0.187 0.181 0.006
Aston Villa 0.164 0.17 -0.006
Palace 0.151 0.157 -0.006
Hull 0.144 0.161 -0.017
West Brom 0.143 0.185 -0.042
Sunderland 0.14 0.184 -0.044
Stoke 0.145 0.191 -0.046
Norwich 0.145 0.215 -0.07
West Ham 0.13 0.201 -0.071
Fulham 0.161 0.234 -0.072
Cardiff 0.122 0.219 -0.098

I won't run through the best and worst in each category, I'll merely say that there is a top 5/6 here and then a significant drop off when looking at shots plus/minus.


Man United are a pretty poor zone efficiency team: 9th best attacking team, 11th best defensive team once we have factored in zone time and used shots on target instead of shots.

Tottenham's attack is pretty efficient but the defense is horrible. Tottenham spend very little time in their own end but give quite a high number of shots on target considering how little time they spend defending.

Southampton post really good offensive and defensive SoT efficiency numbers, so what's their problem? Southampton are in the bottom half of the table in time spent in the defensive zone and the attacking zone. A really efficient team who spends too much time in their own end and don't have the horses or tactical setup to spend more time in the attacking zone.

Obviously score effects can play a part in these numbers, but for now I have no way of splitting the zone time numbers into certain game states.

When looking at both tables together we can see that the really good teams by zone efficiency are:

  • Man City
  • Liverpool
  • Chelsea
  • Everton
  • Southampton
The bad teams:
  • Cardiff
  • Fulham
  • West Ham
  • Norwich