Where have all the shots gone?

written by – Rangers Report

Recently I read of Rangers supporters complaining about the BBC’s highlights following the emphatic win over Celtic.  “They edited it to make it look like Celtic dominated the match!”  Ummmm….Celtic had 33 shots, Rangers had 9!  Leigh Griffiths almost outshot Rangers all on his own (he had eight).

I’d agree that Rangers emotionally dominated the game & yes, they were able to play their game which led to Rangers’ 63% possession rate.  Even though Celtic only saw 27% of the ball….they generated 79% of the shots in the match & 77% of the shots on target. The reality was that Rangers dominated possession, but Celtic dominated the chances.

Celtic had 3.3 Expected Goals, Rangers had 0.9.  Celtic should have won that match.  Luckily for Rangers their opponents caved in to the pressure & don’t get me wrong…it was glorious to watch Scott Brown embarrass himself — I mean, that really was fantastic wasn’t it?

But, then in the hangover match against Hibs – the trend continued.  Rangers possessed the ball for 69% of the match, but only generated four shots.  Hibs actually generated the majority of the shots even though they barely had the ball.  Again, the opponent’s volume & quality of shots outpaced Rangers’ as Hibs’ had an xG total of 1.4 compared to Rangers’ 0.8

We all know that Rangers like to dominate time on the ball, especially in the final third with the hopes of generating a high volume of quality scoring chances.  Opponents know this & do their best to barricade entry into the penalty box.  Sometimes, Rangers fall into the trap of being too precise while breaking down the layers of defenders in front of them.

Jason Holt, courtesy of RFC

To be perfectly candid, I haven’t written much lately & I wanted to share the data I have collected in the context of these past two matches.  So, below you will find the data on who is driving possession into the final third for Rangers & then the subsequent results.

The statistics are broken into two main categories – Controlled Zone Entries & Non-Controlled Entries.  Controlled Zone Entries (CZE) refer to when a player dribbles the ball into the final third or makes a direct pass to a teammate already in the attacking third.  Non-Controlled Entries refer to long balls into the box, balls into a crowd of defenders, & thru-balls.  Thru-balls are fun to watch & often produce scintillating results – but they also are a low percentage play – given that the ball is into space that has to be fought for.

Also, tracked is how many times an entry turns into a positive result.  These positive results turn into a success rate on a player’s entry.  Examples include a goal, a shot, a corner earned, a throw-in, sustained possession, a ball into a dangerous area, or the team leaving the final third but retaining possession.  This success rate is more a team stat because just because a player got the ball into the final third – it does not necessarily mean they had a direct role in the ultimate result.

I’m hoping that having extra eyes on these statistics may unearth some new findings.

v Celtic

Player CZE Pos Res Success Rate Highlighted Team results Non-controlled Entry Pos Res Success Rate Highlighted Team results Total Entries
Barrie McKay 13 7 0.54 goal, 2 shots, corner, 3 throw ins 10 4 0.40 shot, 3 throw ins 23
James Tavernier 8 5 0.63 throw in, corner 4 1 0.25 corner 12
Lee Wallace 10 8 0.80 2 throw ins , 2 corners  0 0 10
Andy Halliday 6 3 0.50 throw in, corner 3 1 0.33 goal, shot 9
Danny Wilson 3 2 0.67 throw in 6 1 0.17 throw in 9
Jason Holt 8 5 0.63 free kick, 2 throw ins 1  0 0.00 9
Dominic Ball 2 2 1.00 5 1 0.20 throw in 7
Nicky Law 4 4 1.00  0 0 —- 4
Gedion Zelalem 2 1 0.50 1 0.00 3
Dean Shiels 1 1 1.00 corner  0 0 —- 1
Kenny Miller 1 1 1.00 throw in  0 0 —- 1
Rob Kiernan 0 0 —- 1 0.00 1
Nicky Clark 1 0 0.00  0 0 —- 1
Totals 59 39 0.66 goal, 2 shots 31 8 0.26 goal, 2 shots 90
  • Shots generated on 3% of CZE, 6% of NCE
  • Barrie McKay had 26% of total entries
  • Lee Wallace had 10 entires, 100% controlled
Barrie McKay, courtesy of RFC

v Hibs


Player CZE Pos Res Success Rate Highlighted Team results Non-controlled Entry Pos Res Success Rate Highlighted Team results Total Entries
James Tavernier 12 7 0.58 2 corners, 2 throw-ins 6 3 0.50 corner, 2 throw-ins 18
Barrie McKay 7 6 0.86 goal, 2 shots, 2 throw-ins 10 3 0.30 throw-in 17
Lee Wallace 9 9 1.00 throw-in, free kick 1  0 0.00 10
Danny Wilson 2 0 0.00 5 1 0.20 throw-in 7
Michael O’Halloran 6 5 0.83 2 throw-ins, corner  0 0 —- 6
Andy Halliday 3 0 0.00 3 1 0.33 corner 6
Kenny Miller 4 3 0.75 2 throw-ins 2 2 1.00 corner, throw-in 6
Dominic Ball 2 1 0.50 goal,shot  0 0 —- 2
Gedion Zelalem 2 1 0.50 shot, corner  0 0 —- 2
Billy King 1 1 1.00 1 0.00 2
Dean Shiels 1 0 0.00 1 1 1.00 throw-in 2
Totals 49 33 0.67 2 goals, 4 shots 29 11 0.38 0 shots 78
  • Shots generated on 8% of CZE, 0% of NCE (second straight week of low shot generation %)
  • The week before, albeit against Peterhead, Rangers generated a shot on 54% of CZE & 7% of NCE
  • 58% of entries came from Tavernier, McKay & Wallace – those only led to two shots
  • Last two weeks 19 of Wallace’s 20 entries have been controlled

Again, I just wanted to share some of the underlying numbers that have been tracked in the past couple of weeks – especially given the fact that Rangers shot generation has been dipping.  It should be noted that these were two difficult opponents & Rangers were without their top two shot producers – Martyn Waghorn & Harry Forrester.

Ultimately, as the season comes to an end – I plan on rolling out more raw data & would be very interested to hear what observations you may have from this set of statistics.  Also, there’s more stats like this that I am more then willing to share what I can if there is a demand for it.

You can follow Rangers Report on Twitter @TheGersReport

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6 thoughts on “Where have all the shots gone?

  1. Great article, thanks.

    I agree that the last two games have seen very few shots on goal and it is very concerning. It’s a long way from the 20-30 shots we were getting earlier in the season. We certainly miss Forrester who drove play and shots forward relelentlessly and to a lesser extent Waghorn. MOH has been very disappointing so far in this regard.

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    1. Despite O’Halloran’s couple of goals – there has only been one match in which he was a pervasive factor on play. The shots will come again tomorrow — but can we generate enough in the final against Hibs?

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  2. Thanks for the work that would have gone into that analysis and all the other work during the season.

    Observationally the speed at which we move the ball makes a huge difference to the shots we generate. In other words when we go slow the opposition gets into position and the bus is parked.

    When we move the ball forward with pace and quick passing we create opportunities.

    Is anyone in any sport measuring any stats to do with “speed of attack”?

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    1. Tempo is definitely a real factor to Rangers play & while teams can try to slow that tempo – the really good teams dictate the run of play. It’s an intriguing idea to measure the time on the ball, between passes, etc. Summer project??

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