– Romelu Lukaku scored the most goals under pressure in the Premier League last season
– Granit Xhaka took the most shots (29) from low clarity situations, seven more than second-ranked Mohamed Salah, although Salah’s xG from his 22 shots is higher than Xhaka’s
– Harry Kane took the most shots from high clarity situations, and also ranked third when shooting from low clarity situations
Having explored how shot pressure and clarity can impact a team’s shooting habits, this analysis now extends to individual players. In addition to understanding how capable players are at finishing in certain situations, we can also further analyse the conditions in which players take shots.
However, before we get too carried away, it’s worth reminding ourselves about clarity and pressure definitions, along with conversion rates at different pressure and clarity levels. This article, released earlier in October, outlines all you need to know here.
High clarity shooters
As with any new dataset, it’s always good to eyeball the figures to see if it passes the eye test. Below is a leaderboard of the top 10 players for high clarity shots:
Harry Kane is notable here, taking the highest number of high clarity shots last season. Kane’s xG from these situations was 11.4, with his strong finishing showing through his goal tally of 16 from these chances, all of which came from within the box.
However, Kane is not alone when overperforming against xG, which may simply be because clarity is not included in the xG model and so the model undervalues the shots. While a high xG is valued, getting many high clarity shots could also be a great measure of skill.
Low clarity shooters
Similar to the above, we’ll want to check which players are taking shots from low clarity situations. Some familiar names pop up, matching with what we’d expect:
Using xG/shot, we can get a good understanding of the underlying quality of the shots taken by each player. Here, Granit Xhaka has attempted the most shots from low clarity situations. Xhaka’s attempts are shown in the shot map below, with plenty coming from the centre of the field.
Mohamed Salah has taken the next highest number, but the average quality of these shots is markedly higher than Xhaka’s. Salah’s also done well to finish these chances, scoring three goals from 1.4 xG. This includes Salah’s memorable third goal against Watford in March last season, where he tucked the ball home past several Watford defenders.
High pressure shooters
Focusing on shots taken under high pressure, we can analyse how well certain shooters have performed in these situations. Taking the top five players in terms of total shots taken under high pressure, we get a good understanding of who coped well, and who didn’t. Adding xG again can give us an understanding of the underlying quality of these attempts.
From this list, Romelu Lukaku’s ability to take shots – and to get them on target – is worth noting. The Manchester United striker scored the most goals from these situations and managed to get 54% of these attempts on target, more than any other player in the list.
Richarlison’s inclusion is also interesting. In his first season in the Premier League he attempted 38 shots under pressure, scoring twice. Hitting the target only five times raises questions about his ability to deal with these conditions – and should inform both how teams defend against him and how his Everton team mates look to create chances for him. Given the small sample, it’s also a trend worth tracking going forward.
Exploring both of these qualifiers, we can create a matrix displaying the combined characteristics of any shooting situation on a player level. Harry Kane led the league last season for shot attempts, so what did the breakdown of these attempts look like?
Kane took the highest proportion of his shots under high pressure last season, with the majority of these shots coming from moderate clarity situations. Compared to other players with at least 50 shots, this was far above average. Kane also took a slightly higher proportion of his shots from high clarity and low pressure situations compared to this sample of players – highlighting his ability to get into these good shooting positions.
Again, comparing this data with another player can provide further context, so let’s look at Mohamed Salah.
We can see that Salah had a lower proportion of his chances from high pressure situations compared to Kane (25% vs 38%), and marginally more high clarity chances, down to Liverpool’s fast attacking style that generates these types of chances.
Again, compared to players with 50+ shots, Salah took a higher proportion of his shots from high clarity situations.
These two new data qualifiers have brought an added dimension to analysis, providing an extra layer when analysing decision-making in front of goal, along with how certain styles of play can lead to particular chance types, such as Salah’s chances often being a consequence of Liverpool’s fast-paced approach.