Statistical analysis of Rangers League Cup victory over Motherwell

written by – Rangers Report    cover photo courtesy of RFC

Expected Goals:  Rangers 3.0*   Motherwell 1.4*

*This has been adjusted from the official Opta data which had a few issues.  For example, Barrie McKay’s shot that the Motherwell defender swatted away with his arm was located as being from outside the penalty area – he was clearly in the heart of the box when he took the shot.

xG Ratio:  68%

Total Shots Ratio:  61%

Shots on Target Ratio:  70%

Scoring Chance Ratio:  91%

Shot selection & creation was major difference.  While 69% of Motherwell’s shots were from inside the box, only one came centrally.  The defence was able to keep shots to the periphery of the box – which cut down the angles for the shooters.

image copy

Motherwell went 35 minutes without a shot.  In that time Rangers outshot them 7-0.

Rangers took 67% of the shots while the match was tied & 63% of the shots while up by one.  Motherwell got two shots in the dying minutes after going down by the second goal in extra time. 

Barrie McKay, courtesy of RFC
Barrie McKay, courtesy of RFC

Entries into the final third


Everyone agrees that something change in the 20th minute.  Whatever tactical change Mark Warburton & David Weir made – it worked.  Motherwell went from trading entries into the final third with Rangers, to being completely on their heels for the rest of the match.

From the 20th minute mark until half-time, Rangers had 28 of the 32 entries into the final third (88%).

At the time of the first substitutions, Rangers had had 72% of the entries (81% since the 20 minute mark).

Rangers had 61% of the entries from the time of the first substitution to the time of the second goal.  That also coincides with Motherwell bringing on Louis Moult & changing their own tactics, as detailed here by Jack Lyons for Boxtobox Centerback.

Link to all of the entry data

Here are my observations, I’d love to hear yours:

While Rangers had success consistently with Controlled Zone Entries (regardless of if it was on left, central or right), the shots were coming when driving the ball centrally.  Nine shots were created after central CZEs (three from left & two from right).

Central entries from Forrester, Tavernier & Windass led to two shots each.  One Windass’ entry led to two shots.  Tavernier’s entries were either passes to central areas or him bringing the ball into a more central area…this was not noted while tracking.

It’s interesting to note that McKay had a 43% success rate with controlled entries on the left (3 out of 7), but 100% with central entries or entries on the right (5 for 5).  For those central entries, like Tavernier they were either passes into central area or he brought the ball into the zone from a more central area.

Motherwell must have put an emphasis in limit McKay’s impact on the match.  His CZE on left had a 43% success rate, if you take those plays out Rangers had a positive result on 85% of all CZE.

McKay was forced (?) into nine non-controlled entries (five more than Danny Wilson).   This is where I wish we had heat maps to see where Richard Tait, Chris Cadden, & even Lionel Ainsworth spent most of their time in relation to McKay.

It’s interesting to note that Rangers had three shots each from entries by McKay & Forrester.  Both goals were initiated by CZE by these two as well.

100% of CZE on the right & 50% of non-controlled entries on the right led to a positive result.  Note for future matches.  Steven Hammell & Stephen McManus (both in mid-30s) struggled to contain Rangers’ attack.  Even though it only led to three shots – Rangers were creating chances, free kicks, corners, etc. up the right side.

Driving Possession v Motherwell July 16, 2016

McKay had 28% of Rangers entries into the final third, Tavernier 15%, Forrester 14%.  Three other players next best with 7%.

I think I have to change  the top left label to “Picked their spots”  Halliday & Miller didn’t have a lot of entries, but they had controlled entries when they did.

courtesy of RFC

In the first half:  eleven of Motherwell’s 16 entries were on the left against Tavernier & Kiernan (69% of entries).  64% of those entries were controlled.  71% of their CZE on left led to a positive result, 0% of NCE (0 for 4).

Of Motherwell’s five shots generated on controlled entries in the first half:  two were on entries from the left, one central, & two from entries against Wallace & Wilson.

Both of Motherwell’s controlled entries on the right against Wallace & Wilson in the first half led to shots – this must have triggered their change in approach in the second half.

In the 2nd half, 14 of Motherwell’s 22 total entries were on the right (64%).  71% were controlled,  90% of controlled entries on the right led to a positive result, 50% of non-controlled entries had a positive result.

All five of Motherwell’s shots that came directly from entries into the final third were after controlled entries against Wallace & Wilson.

70% of the ten total shots Motherwell got directly from CZE were on the right side.

Martyn Waghorn, courtesy of RFC

Rangers- Shots plus shot assists v Motherwell 7%2F16%2F16

This shows the total shots for each player, combined with his shot assists (key passes).  Waghorn was dominant again & was particularly effective with some of his deft passing (more later).

Expected Goals + Expected Assists

xG xA xG+xA
Martyn Waghorn 0.404 0.466 0.87
James Tavernier 0.314 0.522 0.84
Niko Kranjcar 0.26 0.496 0.76
Barrie McKay 0.412 0.144 0.56
Lee Wallace 0.532 0 0.53
Kenny Miller 0.468 0 0.47
Jason Holt 0 0.412 0.41
Michael O’Halloran 0.296 0.054 0.35
Harry Forrester 0.206 0.09 0.30
Josh Windass 0.054 0.206 0.26
Andy Halliday 0.054 0 0.05

Kranjcar’s impact really jumps out considering he only played 30 minutes.  

If you couple these numbers with the entry data then:  Nearly every player tasked with creating offence…did.  Halliday was the only player who had little to no impact on the offensive production.

Pass of the game

Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 11.43.04 AM

Kenny Miller receives James Tavernier’s pass on the left side of this screen shot.  You can see how precise & dangerous this pass was as it bypasses eight Motherwell defenders.  It will lead to a shot by Miller on the edge of the six-yard box.

Pass of the Game (#2)

Screen Shot 2016-07-16 at 11.55.31 AM

This pass from McKay to Waghorn led to Miller’s second shot.  McKay’s pass beat three defenders (the one closing down McKay & the two on Waghorn’s shoulders).  Waghorn then will knock it on to Miller who is about to begin his run into the box.


Player Key Passes Secondary Shot Assists
James Tavernier 3 1
Martyn Waghorn 3 1
Niko Kranjcar 2 3
Jason Holt 2 2
Barrie McKay 2 5
Josh Windass 1 0
Harry Forrester 1 1
Michael O’Halloran 1 0
Lee Wallace 0 1
Danny Wilson 0 0
Kenny Miller 0 0
Andy Halliday 0 0

Jason Holt’s passing also had a real impact on shot creation.  His two key passes were both in the penalty box & both bypassed four defenders.

Danny Wilson, courtesy of RFC

Big Three Takeaways

  1. Whatever adjustments management made leading up to the 20th minute changed the game.
  2. Even though Motherwell targeted shutting down Barrie McKay, he still was able to generate results & was the most important player on the pitch.
  3. Most of Motherwell’s success came when they targeted the right side.  Danny Wilson’s play demands review & I wonder how much of this success occurred with Wallace caught up the pitch & whomever was tasked to cover him probably needs a closer examination.  Again, this is where I wish we had heatmaps!

You can follow Rangers Report on Twitter @TheGersReport

3 thoughts on “Statistical analysis of Rangers League Cup victory over Motherwell

  1. I am surprised Opta do stats for this level! How do you get your hands on the data? Good read though, thanks.


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