Soccer is about goals. The merits of a battling nil-nil draw can be argued, but entertaining goalless encounters are the exception and not the rule. No one lives to only deny goals (except maybe Olli), so here’s a review of goals in the Premier League from 2001-02 to 2011-12….as well as all the ridiculous goal scoring metaphors I can think of to liven it up.
TOTAL GOALS, HOME AND AWAY
How do this season’s goals compare to past Premier League years? 2011-12 saw the most goals ever scored in the ‘modern’ First Division with 1,066 in the back of the net. This total just edged out the 1,063 of 2010-11. More goals were scored from 1992-1995 but those seasons had the benefit of 40 extra matches because of the 22 club table back then.
Since 2001-02 EPL teams have increased their tallies of both Home and Away goals. Home goals have increased from 557 to 604 over the period. They peaked at 645 in the 2009-10 season helped along by Chelsea smashing in a massive 68 into the onion bag at Stamford Bridge.
Away goals reached an all-time high this season: 462 compared to 444 in 2001-02. This record finishing was fueled by the Manchester clubs with City (38) and United (37) taking their derby grudge out on other teams, as well as a resurgent Arsenal (37) scoring freely on the road.
GOALS BY LEAGUE POSITION
The Premier League timeline is split into different ‘eras’ distinguished by the changes to the number of league spots with ‘something to play for’. These refer to league positions which result in some large change that could serve as extra motivation for teams, i.e. Champions League or Relegation. (I haven’t included UEFA Cup/Europa League spots, maybe in the future)
In 2011-12 the Champions League participants have notched their second highest record with 322 goals (339 in 2009-10 is the record), while the Middle Leaguers doddered along managing to can a middling 610 anchovies. The Relegation teams have scored their highest tally of goals ever with 134…but it has not saved them from the drop.
Looking at percentage contribution the CL and Relegation clubs banged in their third highest percentages while the Middle League contributed its lowest percentage of goals ever.
TRENDS BY LEAGUE POSITION
Let’s look at the goal trends for the three groups over the Sky4 era.
Home is where the heart is for the Champions League teams. The Top Four seem to really feed off their supporters (submit your Yakubu jokes here) as they have improved markedly in familiar territory and deteriorated slightly while away. At home clubs were better than ever at herding the old sharks into the pen: goals scored increased by +30 (+19.3%) while goals conceded decreased by -14 (-17.8%). On the road goals scored and conceded weakened with -15 (-9.9%) and +3 (+3.6%) changes respectively. So Top Four clubs at home were better than ever at herding the old sharks into the pen and worse away.
Meanwhile on the other side of the table…the Relegation clubs don’t have a Home-Away trend as much as an Attacking-Defending trend. An increased ability to attack found itself paired with a growing inability to defend. Goals scored increased at home (+13 +23.6%) and away (+15 +34.7%), unfortunately goals conceded also increased all around: home (+31 +36.9%), away (+15 +14%). The heavy twin on the left of the attacking-defending seesaw needs to let the other one down.
The Middle Leaguers continue being, well, average. The only significant trend has been an increased tendency to entertain away supporters and make them like so many fuzzy, little kittens rapt with a fresh ball of yarn. Away goals are up by +16 (+6.6%) and away concessions (not pies) also increased by +29 (7.9%). The middle of the league continues to be boring otherwise. Studies are inconclusive as to the disproportionate effect that Stoke may have on these results.
And some derby comparisons just for fun. The charts below compare total league goals scored only for years when both clubs were in the EPL (ex. Manchester City was not in the league in 2001-02 so this season is not included).