Talking Tactics

Season trends: Corners a growing threat

By Adrian Clarke 4 Jun 2022
James Ward-Prowse, Southampton

Adrian Clarke looks at why teams netted the most from corners since 2018/19

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Adrian Clarke identifies tactical trends from the 2021/22 Premier League season.


Over the last 18 seasons, corner-kicks have produced between 9.8 per cent and 14.2 per cent of all Premier League goals.

During 2021/22, that figure stood at a healthy 13.6 per cent, the second-highest share in a decade.

Overall, 146 goals were scored from corners this season, a rise of 12 from 2020/21 and the joint second-highest on record.

Specialist coaches making a difference

With marginal gains considered so valuable in modern sport, the merits of spending extra time working on set-piece routines makes complete sense.

And right across the division, an influx of specialist set-piece coaches have been employed to help.

Since the recording of this data began in 2004, the average number of goals scored from corners has been 127 per season.

That level has been surpassed in each of the last five top-flight campaigns.

Goals from corners past six seasons
Season Goals
2016/17 104
2017/18 139
2018/19 146
2019/20 134
2020/21 132
2021/22 146

Arsenal have displayed an incredible improvement from corners.

Last season, they scored only three times from corner-kicks, but that rose to an impressive 13 in 2021/22.

Gabriel's goal against Leicester

New set-piece coach Nicolas Jover, formerly of Manchester City, has been credited with bringing about this advancement.

Under his guidance, Arsenal came up with a variety of routines to capitalise on defensive weaknesses that their analysis had identified, and that hard work paid off.

Most goals from corners 2021/22
Team Corner goals
Liverpool 15
Man City 15
Arsenal 13
West Ham 10

Liverpool and Man City were also outstanding, scoring 15 goals apiece.

Jurgen Klopp has praised assistant Peter Krawietz and his team of analysts for their planning, along with German neuroscientists Neuro11 for helping set-piece takers hone their decision-making.

Fabinho's goal at Burnley

Pep Guardiola’s set-piece coach Carlos Vicens also did a stellar job throughout 2021/22, as City scored the most set-piece goals (21) and conceded the fewest (one).

Leading corner-takers 2021/22
Player Corners into box Succ. corners into box Success rate
Ward-Prowse 200 48 24.0%
Gross 96 40 41.6%
Alexander-Arnold 118 38 32.2%
Son 120 31 25.8%
Mount 82 29 35.4%

It will come as no surprise to learn that dead-ball specialist James Ward-Prowse delivered the highest number of accurate corners across the season.

However, the Southampton midfielder was not the most accurate taker.

That honour goes to Pascal Gross. The Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder found a team-mate with over 41 per cent of his corners.

Mason Mount, while not a regular taker for Chelsea, was also accurate with his corners.

Dangerous defenders

To maintain a consistent goal threat from corners, it helps to have tall players who are adept at attacking crosses.

Throughout this season, it was this type of central defender who dominated inside the opposition penalty area.

Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk shared 51 attempts on goal from corners, while Antonio Rudiger (24 attempts) and Aymeric Laporte (23) were also superb at reading the flight of these dead-ball deliveries.

Most shots/goals from corners 
Player Shots from corners Player Goals from corners
Matip 28 Gabriel 5
Rudiger 24 Laporte 3
Laporte 23 Llorente 3
Van Dijk 23 Fabinho 3
Dawson 20 Bednarek 3
Duffy 19 Salah 3
Gabriel 18 Van Dijk 3

The most dangerous player was Gabriel, who scored a division-high five goals from corners for Arsenal.

Powerful in the air, the Brazilian was a major threat at the near post when running on to balls sent into that area.

Right across the board it feels that greater attention to detail was paid to attacking corners this season. It will be fascinating to see if this trend continues.

Also in this series

Part 1: Top five drive the glut of goals
Part 2: Home wins rise with return of fans
Part 4: Favoured formation emerges
Part 5: Counter-attacks on the rise
Part 6: Fouls fall as pressing increases

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