Premier Goals Correlation

Premier Goals Correlation

Premier Goals Correlation

In one of my articles from earlier in the week, I looked at whether or not there was a correlation between clean sheets earned and position in the English Premier League table, in order to make some data driven conclusions.

I won’t give away the findings from that article (it would be better if you read it). However, I did promise that the next phase of the analysis would be one that moves onto goals and although we are two thirds through the seasons, we have enough data to work with.

While it is data that actually looks like this, as I list the 20 Premier League teams in alphabetical order, their average goals in this season and also their current league position:

HomeTeam Goals Position
Arsenal 1.33 10
Aston Villa 1.29 16
Bournemouth 0.96 18
Brighton 1.13 15
Burnley 1.17 13
Chelsea 1.71 4
Crystal Palace 0.92 11
Everton 1.17 12
Leicester 2.17 3
Liverpool 2.35 1
Man City 2.71 2
Man United 1.50 5
Newcastle 1.00 14
Norwich 1.00 20
Sheffield United 1.04 8
Southampton 1.29 9
Tottenham 1.58 6
Watford 0.88 19
West Ham 1.17 17
Wolves 1.46 7

Now that in itself is a table that may shine some light on correlation, then again there is probably a better way in which to do this and it is one via the medium of a scatter graph, which will plot the league position and the average goals per game on the same axis

Premier Goals Correlation

Now if there was to be a perfect correlation, Liverpool at the top of the table would have scored the most goals and Norwich at the bottom would have scored the least. However a quick look at the chart above suggests that is not the case.

When looking at clean sheet data, the above hypothesis did actually ring true, although that in itself was something of a rudimentary way to look at correlation, as although clean sheets mean you won’t lose matches, scoring goals suggests a better way of winning them.

As we can see in this chart, it is actually Manchester City who have scored the most goals but as we all know they are a million miles away from Liverpool at present, albeit while lying second in the Premier League table.

So we know straight away that the correlation isn’t perfect, although what is interesting is that the seven highest goalscorers in the Premier League this season fill out the top seven places in the table at the time of writing.

Which means there is certainly some form of correlation between teams at the top and the goals they score, although just look at the top three teams (Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester) and the gap between them and the rest in terms of goals, shows something of a sizeable leap.

Therefore does it pay to score more? In this case it does, although that also has to come with the caveat that you have some semblance of water tight defence to go with it and that has been the price that Manchester City has paid this season.

When talking of gaps, there is something of a sizeable gap between Wolves (both ranked and placed in seventh) and the next cluster of teams behind them, which is where the results start to have more of a jumbled up feel to them.


Take Aston Villa and West ham for example, both these two outfits find themselves in the top 11 clubs (slightly arbitrary I admit but narrative and all that) when it comes to goals scored but they are 16th and 17th in the table repsectively.

Something that suggests that although they have plenty of defensive issues, they might just have enough firepower to help stay in the Premier League this season. While the inverse to this has to be Sheffield United.

Chris Wilder’s men seem to defy logic this season, they currently find themselves 8th in the Premier League, having scored just 25 goals (an average of 1.04 goals per game). However, it is the watertight defence that they operate, which is keeping the Blades’ head well above water.

We all know that goals carry a huge premium, but Sheffield United are showing people that being economical at the other end is something that can be worth its weight and gold and will now almost certainly unlock another pot of TV money for next season.


We already know that there is a relatively direct correlation between Premier League position and goals scored for the teams at the top of the table, But what about the teams desperatly fightting for survival.

Well it certainly doesn’t make good reading for the teams in the bottom three, because they occupy three of the bottom four slots in terms of goals scored and here it is comes as no real surprise that a lack of goals has lead to being stuck at the foot of the league ladder.

Strange enough Crystal Palace seem to be the pure anomaly in all of this as Roy Hodgson’s men have scored just 22 goals this season, which in most seasons would be reason for crisis in South London.

However, the Eagles are soaring in the relative comfort of 11th and therefore for them in particular there is absolutely no correlation between the amount of goals they have scored and where they find themselves in the table.

The fact that the bottom three find themselves where they are, can be down to goals but it would be unfair to say that this is the only reason. That said, it will certainly be a smoking gun come the end of the season when we can revisit the data and make some final overall conclusions.

Happy punting and thanks for reading. Dan

If this has grabbed your interest and you would like to discuss/feedback then please feel free to drop me a message at While I am always looking for new football/data projects to work on and if you feel that my skills would be of use, I can be contacted at the same address.

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