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Talking Tactics

Season trends: Forwards giving their best shots

Adrian Clarke 18 Apr 2020
West Ham United v Arsenal FC - Premier League

Adrian Clarke explains why strikers led by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are shooting with more accuracy than ever

Adrian Clarke looks at tactical trends of the 2019/20 season so far.

Fowards are flourishing

Premier League strikers are proving more prolific than ever.

This season we have witnessed a positive upturn in the quality of finishing delivered by the competition’s leading strikers.

At the forefront is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The Arsenal striker has 17 goals this season at a highly impressive conversion rate of 36.2 per cent. 

Best of Aubameyang

But he is not the only one who has improved his efficiency in front of goal.

Indeed, all but one of the five leading contenders for this season's Golden Boot boasts a conversion ratio of above 30 per cent.

To put that improvement into context, in 2018/19 Aubameyang was the only member of the top five scorers to eclipse that figure.  

Conversion rates of top PL scorers
2018/19 Goals Conversion rate
Aubameyang 22 30.6%
Mane 22 29.0%
Salah 22 21.2%
Aguero 21 24.1%
Vardy 18 26.1%
2019/20 Goals Conversion rate
Vardy 19 35.9%
Aubameyang 17 36.2%
Aguero 16 30.8%
Salah 16 23.2%
Ings 15 30.6%

The standard set by forwards in front of goal this term has been exceptionally high and their efficiency has also led to less wastefulness in attack.

While Premier League football continues to evolve, it remains remarkably consistent in the number of shots attempted.

The average number of shots has remained between 25 and 30 per match since Opta began recording such statistics in 2003.

But, in the last five campaigns there has been a steady growth in accuracy levels as shown in the table below.

Shot accuracy across last five seasons
Season Shot accuracy
2015/16 45.6%
2016/17 46.3%
2017/18 47.0%
2018/19 47.0%
2019/20 48.1%

There are two key factors contributing to this pattern.

Firstly, the Premier League boasts more technically gifted footballers than in previous seasons, meaning the quality of finishing is higher than ever.

Secondly, players are showing greater patience inside the final third.

Instead of rushing their shots, they are opting to wait for the right moment to produce a precision finish.

As a consequence fewer shots are being blazed over or wide of the mark.

A Premier League high of 48.1 per cent of shots are hitting the target this season.

This all makes for more entertainment and adds greater importance to the role of Premier League goalkeepers.

See: Adrian Clarke's season trends

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