The nasty number that shows why Swindon are shipping so many goals

Alex Cooke asks how has the number of shots Swindon face in each game almost doubled since Tim Sherwood took over?

At the moment Swindon are conceding a lots of goals: nine goals in the five league games since Tim Sherwood ‘took over’. Clearly that is far too many, but it is indicative of another problem: the amount of shots Town are facing. Even in games they have won or drawn, Swindon are now allowing the opposition to shoot at twice the rate they once were. All while they are barely shooting at all.

Over the last league four games Lawrence Vigouroux has (on average) faced a shot every four and a half minutes. To put that in some sort of context, for the rest of this terrible season, that average rate had been a shot every nine minutes. Meaning that in just four games, Town have defended more shots (83) than they did in the entire first seven matches of the season (79). While Adam Tanner rightly highlighted the psychology of the problem in Monday’s blog, these numbers make even worse reading.

shotschart

Clearly allowing the opposition to have a lot of shots is bad. Shots lead to goals, goals lead to defeats and defeats lead to relegation. Statistics back up such obvious ideas too: it is proven that teams who have more shots win more games. Teams who face more, lose. In fact, then when the two are combined it forms a fairly good predictor of how the season will shape up.

Obviously having a lot of shots doesn’t automatically mean that a team are on top or playing well. Many of the shots could all be hugely ambitious 40-yarders, be blocked or fly hopelessly wide. Teams on top also shot a lot more too. And that last one is a factor, but the data does show that Town are giving up not just lots of chances but good chances.

  1. shotsontargetchart

Looking at the number of shots on target in the last four games, Town shipped a huge 45. Again, it took the first nine games of the season to even get close to that total (42). That is a shot on target once every ten minutes. Again, that is double the rest of the season (1 shot on target every 20 minutes). Like the total number of shots, it can also works as a predictor.

Another slightly more sophisticated measure of how good a shot is Expected Goals (XG) and to complete this dismal picture, we can also look at Experimental361.com’s XG score for Swindon. Looking at the chart Town’s situation has clearly worsened, and three of the last four games have seen an opponents’ score the highest XG for the season. So not only are Town are facing lots and lots of shots, they are being hit on target and from good locations.

expectedgoalschart

But does this matter? After all, we did beat Bradford and drew with Southend despite giving them both huge numbers of shots and shot on targets? Obviously it does.We can’t expect Vigouroux to save 20 shots per game, game after game. Or Southend to miss 21 times (again). No, teams who have more shots mostly win games, teams who have fewer, mostly don’t (and at the moment Town are having hardly any). This article explains it rather well.

Yes, there are caveats: This is a relatively small sample (and notice there is no XG score for the rearranged Rovers game). And anything can happen in individual games – but you can’t rely on it. Not game after game. And Town certainly won’t be able to rely on the opposition continuing to miss so many excellent chances from excellent positions. Not at these rates. Not if they are at all serious about staying up.

 

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