Charting Shots on Target

In my last post I suggested that it’s important to consider the impact of a team’s shooting positions on the likelihood of that team scoring goals. Just as teams’ attacking and defensive abilities can be assessed by examining the shots they take and allow, an individual player can be evaluated by the kinds of shots they are converting. Where the majority of a player’s shots come from and whether those shots are on target or goals should be good indicators of the scoring threat posed by that player. Given that the quality of an individual player’s shooting is at issue here, it makes sense to look at players who take a lot of shots, and whose value depends on getting on the scoresheet. This means mostly examining strikers and midfielders tasked with a lot of offensive responsibility. I took a swing at presenting this kind of information for Olivier Giroud, Arsenal’s joint leading scorer.


Shot chart for Olivier Giroud. Color indicates percentage of shots on target, while the hexagon size is determined by number of shots.

What it means

The chart displays some interesting information about Giroud. A great deal of his opportunities come from inside the box. This is likely due to the role Giroud plays for Arsenal as a target-man type, relying on hold up play and finishing long passing moves, and the fact that Arsenal’s style generates scoring opportunities from close range. Giroud ranks behind only Luis Suarez in terms of total shots taken this season (via, so he’s getting plenty of scoring chances, for the most part in positions that would be considered rather dangerous. However, we see that in terms of getting shots on target, Giroud could be doing better. The league average for percentage of shots on target is 35%, via data scraped from Giroud eclipses this in a few locations, but given that the league average number is for shots from all positions, it is reasonable to expect that this number would be higher from closer shooting positions. Even when compared to the 35% number, Giroud is hovering around or failing to meet the league average shooting percentage from some central locations. His scoring rate for shots on target is actually rather decent, as the chart below illustrates.

All shots on target. Green circles denote goals, while blue denote saved shots

All shots on target. Green circles denote goals, while blue denote saved shots

However, Giroud clearly struggles to make shots on target out of his opportunities. Giroud’s defenders suggest that his hold-up play and defensive efforts are amongst his key contributions this year, which is a fair point to make. However, this graphic illustrates that his striking has been unquestionably lacking. Given that Arsenal are on top of the Premier League with Giroud leading the line, you have to wonder (or salivate at, if you’re an Arsenal fan) what they might look like with someone more clinical up front.

About the charts

Credit for the hexagon-design theme of the first chart goes to Grantland writer Kirk Goldsberry. His NBA shot charts are the inspiration for my attempt at applying this particular visualization to the EPL. Data on shot locations come from match reports. Given that it’s a challenge to get league average rates for specific shooting positions, I’m unable to scale the coloring on the chart relative to league average performance. However, I think that making future charts for other players will allow the benefit of comparison.


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