It may be three months since the season finished, but I thought I’d kick off my new blog with a review of the shots data (compiled via the BBC website) for the 2016 season of the FA Women’s Super League. The stats are very basic by modern standards in the men’s game, as they only comprise shots, shots on target, and goals, but we can still see who performed well and who was lucky or unlucky.
(As an aside, if you’re interested in stats for women’s football, then please check out the WoSo Stats site and assist if you can. They are manually logging detailed match stats for NWSL matches).
The most eye-catching thing about this season was the total number of away wins: thirty-one compared to twenty-six on home soil. Only Birmingham and Notts County took more points on their own patch rather than on the road, whilst both Manchester City and Chelsea only failed to win one of their away matches. Indeed Chelsea’s sole defeat was at Manchester City when their hosts sealed the league title.
On to the stats. Here are the team’s sorted by their total shot ratios (which is Shots For/Total Shots (Shots For + Shots Against), and you will see that it closely resembles the actual league table.
The range of shot ratios in the men’s Premier League tends to range from about 35% at one end to 70% at the top, so we can see that Manchester City were worthy champions and Doncaster were deservedly relegated. It’s interesting to note that the average total shots per game was 25.5, which for context exactly matches the 2016/17 men’s Premier League at the time of writing. There were more one sided matches in WSL 1 though, as 8.3% of them saw one team outshoot the other by at least twenty efforts at goal, whereas this has only happened 5.6% in the men’s top flight this season.
The table for the shots on target ratio stats (which is: SoT For/Total SoT (SoT For + SoT Against) is in virtually the same order as the above, though you will see that Doncaster and Manchester City’s figures are even more extreme than they are in the all shots table:
There was a very strong relationship between which team had more shots on target and which team won the match, which may seem intuitive, but the winning side had more on target efforts in 85% of matches in WSL1 compared to 76% in the men’s Premier League, so it appears to be even more relevant in the women’s game.
There were only nine matches where the team who had the fewer shots on target won, and the biggest example was Chelsea’s 2-1 home win over Notts County, where they had just three shots on target compared to the visitors’ seven.
You may have noticed that Notts County are fourth in both of the above tables, yet they finished sixth in the actual table, some eleven points behind Birmingham City who are below them in the shot stats. When we look at the shot conversion percentages, we can see why this happened:
Notts County were below average at converting their shots on target, but also at saving their opponents’ efforts, which is why they finished lower than their underlying shot stats suggested they should, whereas conversely Birmingham City were above average (particularly at the defensive end) which propelled them up the league table. We might not have in-depth shot location or chance quality stats for this league, but looking at Manchester City’s incredible save percentage it’s safe to surmise that they must have restricted their opponents to low quality chances on the whole.
City might have recently signed FIFA World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd ahead of the 2017 Spring Series, but the figures in the tables here show they would have definitely been the team to beat anyway. I’ll be monitoring the new season as it progresses to see how the teams compare performance-wise to 2016.