Which clubs are the best at set pieces in the Premier League?
Which clubs execute set pieces the best in the Premier League? Which clubs make the most of chances created? Today on the blog Barrie takes a look at the stats from last season's Premier League action looking forward into season 2012/2013.
After avoiding relegation to the third tier of English football in 2003/04 by 1 point, I remember Derby County manager George Burley emphasising the importance of set pieces ahead of the following season. That summer the former Ipswich Town manager brought in a talented Spanish set piece taker named Inigo Idiakez from Rayo Vallecano. 46 games later Derby County made the playoffs (losing in the semi-finals to Preston North End).
OK, it wasn't just down to one player that season. Young Tom Huddlestone had a full season's experience under him, Grzegorz Rasiak and Tommy Smith were brought in and scored goals, and overall there was an improvement in both tactics and performance. But the importance of set pieces both attacking and defending was emphasised.
The Stoke City Example
Stoke City have been a great example of this. Written off after a 3-1 thrashing at Bolton in their first-ever Premier League game, the Potters are renowned for defending and attacking set pieces very well. Predominantly long throw-ins, but they got through last season without scoring a single goal from a Rory Delap take.
Last season, Stoke City created 71 chances from set pieces. Only Tottenham Hotspur (72) created more. Looking ahead in the current season, Spurs fans perhaps won't be as optimistic of leading that chart again this season as Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart were both responsible for creating the majority of these chances.
Stoke City converted 16 of these set pieces into goals which was good enough for equal fourth (with Norwich City) last season. That represented 44% of Stoke's goals as they scored the fewest in the league last season, finding the net on just 36 occasions.
Making The Most Of It
Champions Manchester City and relegated Blackburn Rovers led the way with 19 goals from set pieces, followed by Manchester United who scored 18. Two terms were able to utilise set pieces to break away at the top of the table, whilst perhaps the goals scored from set pieces by Blackburn Rovers was just covering up some of the cracks in what was a dismal season under Steve Kean.
At the other end of the scale, Aston Villa were rock bottom in goals scored from set pieces with just 3. The Villans struggled under Alex McLeish scoring just 37 goals in all with the manager constantly booed by his home support.
Arsenal and Newcastle were the next least efficient teams from set pieces, both scoring 8 goals last season from dead ball situations. For Arsenal, Robin van Persie assisted 4 of those and has since moved on. Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta have taken over the responsibilities this season, although neither has an assist directly from a free kick so far.
Juan Mata and David Silva were the deadliest set piece takers in terms of assists last season, each setting up 6 goals for team mates from dead ball situations. Only Silva (15) set up more goals than Mata (13) in the 2011/12 season.
It's not just Spaniards who are deadly with their set piece taking ability. Englishman Jermaine Pennant recorded 5 goals from set plays (compared to 1 from open play); the same number as Wigan Athletic's Chilean midfielder Jean Beausejour who only signed in January.
Interestingly, it was Fulham's Danny Murphy who created the most chances from set pieces, with 39 of his crosses directly leading to shots from team mates. 2 of these found the back of the net. Tottenham's Modric and Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson were next with 27.
So Far This Season
To start the new season, Leighton Baines has been the most notable free kick taker, already with one assist. However, Everton have scored 3 goals from dead ball crosses this season; including their opener at Swansea City when Marouane Fellaini chested down Baines' free kick before palming it onto Victor Anichebe who tucked the ball home. Everton are looking deadly from set pieces, having only created 9 goals from them last season.
Manchester City are already on top in this department though; carrying over from last season. 4 of their 10 goals in 5 games have come from set pieces. David Silva proving a thorn in the side of oppositions both from these situations and in open play. The likes of Yaya Toure, Javi Garcia and Joleon Lescott have all connected onto the end of dead balls to score for the reigning champions already this season.
Follow Barrie on Twitter: @BarriesView
And read more of his work at BarriesView.com
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