Chelsea won the FA WSL 1 Spring Series on goal difference from Manchester City, and sealed the title with a 2-0 win at Birmingham. They may have not won on points, and they were only one point ahead of third placed Arsenal, but their goal difference was certainly impressive; their total of 29 was more than the three other sides with a positive total managed between them (26).
But did they deserve such an impressive figure? I reviewed the shot stats from the FA WSL 1 2016 season here, so I will do likewise for the Spring Series. Once again I have compiled the data via the match reports on the BBC website, but this time I have also been able to find out the shots in the box numbers. To begin, here are the total shot stats.
The top three here were also the top three in the league table, and with those levels of shot dominance, that’s not surprising at all. The two teams that don’t pass the eye test here are Birmingham (who finished seventh) and Sunderland (who finished fifth) though of course in such a short tournament unusual outcomes such as these are far more possible.
Sunderland managed to win two matches despite only scoring four goals in total across their eight games, which explains how they were able to overcome their poor shot stats.
The shots on target table is virtually identical order-wise, except that this time it is Reading who are perhaps surprisingly high up in the rankings.
We can see that the chasing pack are far closer to Arsenal in this table than they were in the all shots one above it. The Gunners were the only unbeaten team in the division, and as the following table shows, they were above average at both ends of the pitch when it comes to shots on target conversion rates.
Chelsea’s PDO figure of 123.6 is higher than any team has managed in the men’s Premier League in the last eight seasons, which suggests that over a longer period their impressive figures at both ends of the pitch may have cooled off. They were so dominant in this league though that perhaps they wouldn’t have; it will be interesting to see what happens in the 2017/18 season.
Meanwhile Liverpool’s decent season (particularly early on) was slightly undermined by conceding a high proportion of the shots on target they faced. Arsenal scored four goals from five attempts on target in a 4-4 draw, and then Manchester City scored three from four to defeat them 3-1 on the final day. In fairness, the Reds scored four from five themselves when beating Reading 4-2, so it wasn’t all one way traffic on this front.
To finish, a look at the new stat I’ve added which is shots in the box, and these figures truly emphasise Chelsea’s dominance.
Chelsea’s box shot difference was 37 shots ahead of what the next best team, Manchester City, had in the opposition box themselves. Emma Hayes’ team had more shots in the box than their opponents in all eight of their matches, including a difference of 22 against Liverpool, 23 against Sunderland, and a truly eye-watering 31 (with a box shot count of 32-1) in their opening match against Yeovil. As close as the points tallies were in the end, the numbers all show that Chelsea were deserved champions of the FA WSL 1 Spring Series.