Comparing shots across the divisions of English football

Watching the highlights of each week’s Football League action, it can sometimes feel like there are more spectacular goals in the lower divisions, particularly shots from range. Although, there is the obvious counter-argument that because the highlights for leagues that aren’t the Premier League tend to be much more condensed, we are more likely to quickly forget the average goals as they are quickly passed over, in favour of goals from the likes of Lee Trundle. However, this raises a serious question; do teams shoot differently at different levels of the Premier League and Football League? Another way of thinking about this would be whether the quality of both attacking and defending increases evenly as you ascend the levels of the footballing pyramid.

While I do not intend to look at this from every possible point of view (being able to see how different skills transfer from one league to another would be one of the most valuable commodities on football – just look at the clichés about Eredivisie strikers), I will look briefly at location and mean conversion of shots in different zones in the top 3 divisions of English football.

Shot locations

These maps show the proportion of shots originating from each area of the pitch in each of the divisions.


Conversion (Goals per Shot)

(NB: the sample sizes for headed shots outside the box is understandably very small and so the differences here are unlikely to be significant)


Interestingly, both shot locations and conversion rates are very similarly distributed across at least these divisions of English football. Perhaps this suggests that a large degree of attacking and defending scales up and down the leagues. There is also the point that these numbers are aggregated from the whole league and so do not reflect the distribution within each league. However, I think this is a noteworthy result, if not particularly earth-shattering.


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