Talking Tactics

Season trends: Why Premier League teams are scoring more goals

By Adrian Clarke 17 Nov 2023
Fulham FC v Manchester United - Premier League

Adrian Clarke analyses how managers' more attacking approach in 2023/24 is leading to more goals than ever

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Adrian Clarke looks at tactical trends of the 2023/24 season so far.

Attacking football on the rise

It has been a richly entertaining start to the season, with the rate of goals scored per match higher than it has been for any previous Premier League campaign.

At present, we have had 370 goals, with each match is averaging 3.08. This is way above the previous best average of 2.85 set last season and puts the season on course to feature a total of 1,170 goals.

If achieved, that would be 86 more than last season’s record high.

Tactical positivity

From a strategic perspective we are seeing less of a fear factor from top-flight head coaches.

Fewer managers outside of the top six are setting up with back threes that turn into defensive five-man rearguards.

See: Inverted full-backs providing tactical flexibility

In fact, coaches right across the Premier League are consistently setting up in an aggressive, offensive way, looking to outscore their opponents.

Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton & Hove Albion are a prime example of a club adopting an attacking style of play, while Aston Villa, Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers are among a group of other teams who are scoring more freely this season.

Overall, 12 of the 17 existing Premier League clubs from last season are finding the back of the net at a faster rate than they managed in 2023/24.

While these stats could question the standard of defending, it has been exciting to see the wider breadth of teams pushing forward in search of additional goals.

Scoring three or more in a match is never easy, so these numbers may level out in the coming months, but as it stands half of Premier League teams have scored at least three goals in a quarter of their matches so far.

Teams scoring 3+ goals in 25 per cent of matches
Season No. of teams
2021/22 5
2022/23 5
2023/24* 10

* After 12 matches

Villa, so impressive under Unai Emery, have produced more than two goals in seven of their 12 matches.

Watkins scores Villa's third MW12 goal v Fulham

Early pace-setters Tottenham Hotspur and Erik ten Hag’s all-star Manchester United side do not feature on that list, which further highlights the spread we have witnessed.

Across the last two campaigns only five teams have scored three or more goals in 25 per cent of their matches after 38 matches.

Teams averaging 25+ touches in box/90
Season No. of teams
2021/22 4
2022/23 7
2023/24* 10

* After 12 matches

Since 2020/21 we have seen a steep climb in the number of head coaches who want to press from the front and push men forward to create attacking overloads.

This has helped them get their players into goalscoring positions on a more frequent basis.

Right now, 10 sides are averaging over 25 touches inside the opposition box per 90 minutes, which is a significant leap from two seasons ago when only four clubs managed that feat.

Touches in opposition box per match
Season Ave. no. of touches
2020/21 45.04
2021/22 48.01
2022/23 49.54
2023/24* 54.40

* After 12 matches

Across the board we have seen steady increase in players making their way into the penalty area across the last four seasons.

This has clearly had an impact on the number of goals scored, as has the standard of finishing.

Highlights: Chelsea v Man City's eight-goal thriller

Premier League players have converted 11.62 per cent of their chances during the current season, the highest figure on record.

Late goals aplenty

It should also be factored in that matches are lasting longer this season thanks to the new directives over timekeeping.

Additional time has averaged 11 minutes 42 seconds, a marked increase compared with last season's average of 8mins 27 secs and the 7mins 29secs of the year before.

This has afforded players more opportunities to plunder goals in added time, with 10.3 per cent of all strikes coming after the 90th minute.

These lengthened matches, coupled with the adventurous mindset of many head coaches, has understandably led to a big rise in matches where both teams score.

Excitement levels are high, and long may that continue.

Both teams scored 2023/24
Season Matches where both teams score %
2019/20 51
2020/21 49
2021/22 50
2022/23 52
2023/24* 60

* After 12 matches

Also in this series

Part 1: Inverted full-backs providing tactical flexibility
Part 3: Why goals from free-kicks and corners are down
Part 4: Goals from substitutes on the rise again

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