There are many cliches within football’s lexicon and if we were to list even a small portion of them, this article would be full of rent-a-quotes from the game’s more bygone eras. However, there is one idiom that has caught the eye over the past few weeks.
One that suggests a team is at their most vulnerable, after the act of scoring of themselves and with this oft-mentioned reference placed deep in our minds, it has provided us the perfect opportunity in which to carry out some deep dive analysis.
Analysis that comes from all of last season’s Premier League fixtures and with a starting sample of 380 to work with, the first act is to see how many of those finished with a Both Teams To Score (BTTS) outcome.
Of our starting sample, 194 finished with at least one goal at either end (51.05%) and this means that 186 (49.85%) can be dismissed from the off. Now that we are armed with 194 BTTS fixtures from last season, it is time to ask the most pertinent question of all.
Are Premier League teams vulnerable when they’ve just scored?
To answer this question, we are going to need to lay down some criteria and set a parameter for our vulnerability measure. With that in mind, a team must have conceded within three minutes from scoring themselves.
Which means after analysing each of the 194 matches that passed the first step in terms of criteria, there were 25 instances in which vulnerability was on show and this equates to 12.88% of the available sample.
While when referring to our initial question and asking whether teams are most vulnerable when they’ve just scored, armed with the knowledge that we now possess, you would have to say that this is not really the case.
Just one in eight fixtures in the data sample, trigged the vulnerable alarm and therefore in terms of myth-busting, we can begin to debunk this certain phrase from the vernacular of modern-day football.
Of course, a headline figure is always interesting, but it is nothing without context and the next step is to look at those 25 instances and see who the main beneficiaries were and who were the most vulnerable of all.
One way to look at this, is by how many points were dropped because of a goal that was conceded so soon after scoring at the other end. To do this, we need to filter the 25 occurrences, into a further criterion.
This being, that if the ‘vulnerable goal’ were also the last goal of the game, this defensive breach would lead to Premier League points being dropped or gained depending on the viewpoint that needs to be taken.
Where were direct points lost?
There was a direct points loss or gain on five separate occasions and the teams that saw points ebb away because of switching off from a high point were:
Aston Villa: -4 Points
Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea: -2 Points
While by comparison the teams who each salvaged a draw after being behind were:
Each of this quintet managed to score the final goal in the game and one that was less than three minutes than conceding themselves, while in doing so, they managed to earn important points along the way.
For Aston Villa, there is an obvious mixed bag and their net loss is still three points, then again the additional point they earned at Old Trafford due to Manchester United’s vulnerability, would have gone some way to keeping them in the division.
Of the teams that have lost points because of vulnerability, it stands to the reason that the main culprits would be the teams who actually score most of the goals in the division, if only because if you have not scored at one end, you cannot be vulnerable at the other.
Who benefited the most of all?
Another way to look at things in terms of benefits can be the amount of goals that were scored against a vulnerable defence and although they may not have been a direct points gain, we can at least identify which teams were quick to dust
themselves off after conceding.
Who benefitted the most in 2019/20
Everton can take some solace from topping this table, because although they reacted quickly on three separate occasions, that does come with the caveat that they had to concede the same amount of times in which to do so.
While if we look at things from the inverse point of view and see which teams were the most susceptible to turnaround goals, the table looks like this:
Who got caught out the most in 2019/20
Again, it does not make good reading for Chelsea or Manchester City, as not only did they lose points because of switching off post celebrations, but they were also caught out on the most individual occasions in our sample.
This does reinforce the point that high scoring teams will perhaps offer less immunity and we should not overlook the positive act of breaching the opposition net first. However, data of this kind would be of obvious frustration to both Pep Guardiola and Frank Lampard across last season.
The Magic 25
The final step is to find out if there is a king of vulnerable goals and whether a Golden Boot can be awarded in such a competition. Unfortunately, it is the most level pegging of all, as each of the quarter century of goals was scored by 25 unique players.
However, there is arguably a raspberry award for both Angelo Ogbonna and Fernandinho, as efforts past their own goalkeeper also doubled up as vulnerable goals and in the latter’s case matters were even worse, as it cost Manchester City two points against Everton.
In alphabetical order, here are the players who notched up an entry in our data sample:
Angelo Ogbonna (OG)
If the overall intention was to bust a myth, then knowing that just 1 in 8 of all games that ended with BTTS triggered the phrase “you’re at your most vulnerable, when you’ve just scored” has certainly achieved this.
Now this analysis has been carried out, we can say with some confidence that this notion is pretty much nonsense and with one myth now busted, the quest to debunk some more begins.