How inept are Fulham? (Part I)

I’ve said this on twitter a ton of times but Fulham are on pace to set some incredible precedents this season. I’ll preface all of these tables by saying that, through 11 games, only Southampton have faced easier opposition than Fulham this season. It makes the following even more remarkable.

The first two tables I want to show look at the shots Fulham have taken and conceded this season. The sample is the 280 teams to have played in the Premiership since the beginning of the ’00-01 season. As the number of Premiership shots varies from season to season I’ve looked at the proportion of total Premiership shots/shots on target that a given team took during a given season and as there are 20 teams in the league, the average team should take/concede 5% of the shotstaken in the league. The conclusions from the two tables below are almost identical so I’ll post them both at once. The first is the percentage of Premiership shots on target taken for and against a given team in a given season, the second is identical, but looks at total shots:

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 9.16.25 AM

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Just to quickly read across this table using Stoke in the top left as an example. In the ’11-12 season Stoke finished 14th and took 2.71% of the shots on target in the league that season.

So what we have in the ‘for’ categories of both tables is a group of teams that didn’t necessarily fare badly n terms of final league position. Stoke feature most prominently, and yet finished 14th or better each season. If I look a little closer though I can see that Stokes matches featured 13% fewer shots than the Premiership average over the four seasons they crop up in these tables – i.e., they were also doing a great job of preventing their opponents takes shots, and their respective ratio’s were ok as a result. The same is true to a lesser extent for Middlesbrough in ’01-02. Derby are the only other team in the shots for column to survive. They did so with a 1030 PDO, and were relegated their next season when that regressed.

Shots against are a little more interesting – the majority of these teams are relegated. In ’06-07 Blackburn rode a 1059 PDO that regressed to 1015 the next time around. Last season West Ham took a decent number of shots for.

Finally the ratio’s – this is where we have a TON of predictive power. The ten worst teams on both lists went down, unless they were called Stoke (who’ve had a 1030+ PDO every season in the Premiership under Tony Pulis – something worth looking into).

In short – what we have here is a really easy way to identify teams that are likely to go down, and Fulham are amongst the worst (bottom 5%) in any shots on target metric and the worst as measured by total shots. They’re in terrible company.

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