West Ham were pretty lucky yesterday

Watching this wasn’t very pleasant as a West Ham fan, we were played off the park and got a point courtesy of a post, Rob Green, some last ditch defending and a fair bit of luck (Jermain Defoe forgot whereabouts on the pitch the goal is).

According to bbc sport West Ham were outshot by a margin of 26-11, with shots on target favouring Spurs 11-5. So how would we have expected the Hammers to fare?

Firstly by total shots. There have been 11 games since 2000-01 where the home team has taken 25-27 shots AND the away team has taken 10-12 shots. The table below summarises what happened in those games.

H shots A shots H goals A goals H points A points
Total 284 119 16 18 15 15
Average 25.8 10.8 1.45 1.64 1.36 1.36

That’s quite interesting, away teams actually hold their own in these games. Without going back and looking at individual games I can think of two possible explanations but beyond that I’m stumped. The first is score effects, ie the away team getting a lead early on and then holding on for the rest of the game. The second is that it’s a small sample size and the picture might change with more games.

To get a larger sample size I’ll look at the result in terms of shots on target. This gives 59 games, a more acceptable number. This time I’m looking at games where the home team take 13-15 shots on target AND the away team takes 4-6 shots on target.

H SonT A SonT H goals A goals H points A points
Total 796 290 139 51 133 34
Average 13.5 4.9 2.36 0.86 2.20 0.58

There’s quite a clear picture being painted here. Team’s outshot to the extent West Ham were get outscored by an equally large margin. They have to get lucky to get a result. The teams outshot pick up at least a point in one third of games (7W, 13D in 59 games), but really this is because football is such a low scoring game.

Sometimes someone flipping a coin 5 times will get more heads than someone flipping a coin 14 times. Only rarely though. West Ham got away with one yesterday, no question about it.


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