Football League statistician Ben Mayhew casts his eye over Burnley’s charts from last season.
Over at Experimental 361, I’ve developed a set of graphs to visualise and compare teams’ attacking and defensive performance, which I’ll be using here to briefly analyse Burnley’s season.
In a convoluted nutshell, the horizontal axis measures the average number of goal attempts a team either creates or faces in a match, while the vertical shows how many shots it takes on average for a goal to be either scored or conceded. These are quite simple metrics, but used together they can be quite revealing (as this post will hopefully demonstrate).
I’ve used them below to plot out Burnley’s attacking (green) and defensive (red) performance, split by (H)ome, (A)way and (O)verall. The axes are centred on the average values for the Football League, which allows us to split the graph into quadrants (which I’ve labelled). The 23 smaller dots on each graph show the overall performance of the other teams from last year’s Championship for comparison.
Click the charts to view full-size.
The line links Burnley’s home and away performances, which are strikingly different. At home, they rain shots in at an impressive rate – almost 16 per game – but away from Turf Moor their attack calms down and behaves like that of an average Football League side
What’s disappointing is how many shots are wasted: it takes the average team just under 8.4 shots to score each goal, but Burnley need 10 overall, rising to 11 at home. This could be due to either the quality of chances being created or the quality of the finishing.
The fact that 5 more shots are being taken per match at home compared to away hints potentially at impatience or the team feeling under pressure to get a result in front of their own fans. However this shouldn’t detract from a positive overall picture: no Championship side created more shots at goal last season.
Having seen this chart for quite a few teams, the thing that strikes me first is the relatively small difference between home and away performance. Most teams have a much wider spread here, suggesting that Burnley aren’t easily intimidated by a hostile crowd and that Eddie Howe doesn’t change the team’s style of play significantly away from home.
The defence are busier than most and have to face an extra shot per match on their travels, but given their better-than-average ability to soak these up this isn’t particularly concerning.
Looking at Burnley’s away record last season, there were a fair number of defeats and very few draws, so perhaps a more cautious approach to reduce the number of shots faced could see them grind out a few more points on the road.
The headline message for the coaching staff from these numbers is to instil a bit more patience up front. If they can focus the team’s formidable attacking energy into carving out clearer-cut chances then Burnley can be optimistic of breaking into the top half of the table.
In terms of replacing Jay Rodriguez, this analysis suggests that bringing in a forward who is a composed finisher should be the priority, as the team is already creating plenty of chances and just needs someone reliable on the end of them.
Defensively, the high-profile capture of Jason Shackell should add sufficient steel to the Clarets’ rearguard to drive the required improvements here. If Eddie Howe can recruit as impressively at the other end then a play-off push is a real possibility next season.
I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never watched Burnley play, which in addition to leaving a gaping void in my soul also prevents me from interpreting these graphs with a detailed knowledge of the team’s playing style. Please feel free to weigh in with your infinitely more informed interpretations in the comments section below.
Why do we waste so many chances? Is our defence as bad as we’ve sometimes made out? Comment below.