Creating chances had been a big problem for the Swans this season until recently. After the away win at Millwall – we failed to score in the next 3 matches – but we ended that run emphatically with a 3-0 victory against QPR.
We failed to hit the net again away at Wigan Athletic but we were back to goalscoring ways on Saturday. However, two goals weren’t enough as Ipswich scored a late winner direct from a corner to get their first 3 points of the season.
Unlike earlier this season when we’ve not created enough to score goals, in recent weeks we’ve created more than enough to win games but we’ve let ourselves down with some very poor finishing this weekend. We had to be clinical to get away wins at Sheffield United and Millwall. We scored 2 goals in both games but only managed 9 shots at Sheffield United (4 on target) and 8 shots at Millwall (2 on target – both scored).
However, in recent games, we’ve suddenly started to create more than enough chances to win games comfortably. We outlined some of the numbers in our infographic here. In the last two games, we’ve almost created twice as many chances in each of them compared to those 2 mentioned away wins with a total of 17 shots at Wigan last Tuesday and 18 shots against Ipswich on Saturday.
Not only that but the clear-cut chances and xG stats are more revealing about the quality and quantity of our chances created recently compared to earlier in the season.
Clear Cut Chances and xG
A clear-cut chance is defined as being one that a player is expected to score. In fan speak – a “sitter”. That ‘incredible stat’ we’re on about in the headline – here it is:
The Swans created five clear-cut chances against Ipswich alone, that’s the same amount that we created in the first 9 games this season.
We created that many in the first 6 games and then failed to create a clear-cut chance in the next 3 games so you can see the huge improvement we’ve made in creating goalscoring opportunities at least in recent weeks.
And here’s another stat:
It must also be said that in the 7 full seasons I’ve collected stats on Swansea City matches, this is the first time I’ve recorded us creating 5 clear-cut chances in a single match. The previous highest was 4 – surprisingly in Bob Bradley’s first game away at Arsenal – a 3-2 defeat at the Etihad.
After that three-game run of creating zero clear cut chances, we created one each in the next two games before the five against Ipswich.
The graphic below – courtesy of the SofaScore app also shows our dominance during the game with the green bars showing our pressure during the game with the match time progressing from left to right.
In addition to that, the Expected Goals model (via infogol) graphic below also shows the chances we created and the locations on the pitch – most of our best chances were created near the penalty spot area.
The size of the circles represents xG – the bigger the circle the higher expectancy of a goal. Celina’s goal had a very low xG value (shown with a yellow border) compared to McBurnie’s best chance in the first half that was saved with a 0.7 xG value (penalties are given a 0.8 expected goal value as a comparison).
Yes, we lost and yes we didn’t put the ball into the net which is what counts in football but there’s encouraging signs here.
Creating good chances to win games was an obvious problem earlier in the season but we’ve shown a huge improvement in that area which is great to see. A 3.52 xG value in a single football match is huge and rare (we were failing to create that much in three games earlier in the season) – we just need to keep that going if we can and try and be more clinical in front of goal.