Shooting Their Way to Victory

A month ago we wrote a piece on Australian A-League team Melbourne Heart and how they had equalled the longest winless streak in Australian football history. To recap, they had gone 11 months and 19 games without tasting victory before they finally managed to win in their 100th A-League game against the Newcastle Jets.

The month that has followed has been extremely eventful for the Melbourne based outfit. Not only have they gone the entire month unbeaten, winning 4 games and drawing 1, but the news broke that the club had been acquired by Premier League giants Manchester City. The run of form has seen them close the gap between themselves and second from bottom, Perth Glory. The gap now stands at only 3 points and with the Heart in such good form at the moment, you wouldn’t bet against them from climbing off the bottom of the log sooner rather than later.

In our initial post, we compared the Heart’s performances in their games this season before they turned things around and we noticed that not only did they allow their opponents to have more possession than them but also to attack more. That is not to say that they did not attack either as they actually had a relatively high attack rate for a team on such a long winless run but they let themselves down when it came to getting a shot on goal with only 6% of their shots resulting in a goal. As we stated, it was clearly this profligacy in front of goal that cost them.

With this in mind, we compared their stats from the games during their winless streak to those of their unbeaten run. As can be seen below, there is not that much difference in terms of live ball possession, and attacking play but the main difference comes in the number of good scoring chances that the team found themselves in during the unbeaten run.

When looking at their attacking moves, we discovered a noticeable difference in the number of passes and set pieces that they undertook as well as the quality of those various plays.

Clearly something right was happening in front of goal for the Heart so we looked at all the shots taken during the winless streak and unbeaten run and as can be seen from the stats; the Heart not only managed to get more shots off on goal, but ensured that those shots were of a high quality.

Unlike during their winless streak where they would get into good scoring chances but waste the opportunity, they took full advantage of these scenarios. They noticeably increased the number of high risk shots taken and accordingly scored at least one goal per game more from these kinds of shots.

Clearly, the Heart players are starting to take better advantage of their good scoring chances and this is what has labeled them as the in form team at the moment. During the winless streak, only 4 players managed to get onto the score sheet but over the last 5 games, 8 different players have put the ball into the back of the net! Should they continue to play like this, taking full advantage of their good scoring chances and putting their shots away, they may find themselves climbing off the bottom of the table!

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