I imagine this will go down as the second surprise of the previews.
If you haven’t seen these bubble plots before I explained the concept here but basically, higher = better team, further right = more luck, bigger bubble = more points, brighter bubble = more extreme goal difference (green = +ve, red = -ve).
If you search this site you’ll find several occasions where I’ve said that Wigan consistently score less points than their share of shots would suggest. in terms of controlling the ball they’re a decent team, ranking 8th in the Premiership in terms of TSR last time (link) and being above or around 0.500 each of the seven seasons they’ve spent in the Premiership.
So what’s been letting Wigan down? In short their sh% has been horrendous. Over their seven year stay in the Premiership Wigan have scored 16.7% of their shots on target, compared to a league average of 20.4% over the same span. This has cost them the equivalent of 8-9 goals per season, or approximately 6 points. Needless to say 6 points is huge to a team scrapping for survival each season.
This seems counter-intuitive to me. Wigan are a team known for playing attractive, passing football and, like Arsenal, are oft accused of trying to pass their way into the net. If that were the case then I’d argue it follows that, if a difference in shot quality does exist between teams, that they’d produce and take shots that are better quality opportunities than the league average and thus we’d expect their sh% to be average or better. Can anyone provide me a rational explanation of why this isn’t the case? For reference Arsenal scored 23.0% of their shots on target over the same stretch.
The table below includes the projections based on those comparable teams (as well as the max and min points expected from their performance) as well as their expected performance based on their total shots ratio (TSR) and shots on target ratio (STR) from last season.
Unsurprisingly the shot models love Wigan, and have each year I’ve run these previews. Maybe this will be the year they’ve proved right…
Finally here’s a reminder of how the predicted table stands to this juncture, based on the ‘comparable’s’ model.
The comparable’s for Wigan are: ’01-02 Southampton (45 points in year ‘0’, 52 points in year ‘1’), ’07-08 West Ham (49, 51), ’08-09 Blackburn (41, 50), ’07-08 Sunderland (39, 36), ’08-09 Portsmouth (41, 28), ’08-09 Aston Villa (62, 64), ’10-11 Stoke (46, 45), ’03-04 Everton (39, 61), ’03-04 Portsmouth (45, 39), ’01-02 West Ham (53, 42)