They have the third best attack and the fourth best defence in the English Premier League, yet head the table by seven points, needing a maximum of four wins from their final six games to pull off the most remarkable achievement since the creation of the Premier League.
SportsMatrix examined the effectiveness of counter attacking in this season’s Premier League, revealing just how important counter attacks has been towards Leicester City’s success. Our study revealed the percentage of counter attacks per team ending in potentially threatening situation.
In this report a counter attack goal/shot is one where a goal/shot is scored either directly from the counter attack or where there is some sort of second ball incident, such as the intervention from an opponent, whether it be a save or a tackle.
With their rapid transition from defence into attack Leicester City top the table in the number of counter attacks performed (400) so far this season and with over 10% of all Leicester City’s attacks coming from counters, they rely on this style of play more than any other Premier League club. But although they had most goal attempts from counter attacks (53), they scored only eight times from counter attacks.
Tottenham Hotspur may be trailing the Foxes in the league, but when it comes to converting counter attacks to goals, they are more effective, with a goal scored from every 42 counter attacks. However they are not the most clinical team at converting counter attacks into goals; this award goes to Everton, with a goal scored from every 29 counter attacks. Perhaps Everton should concentrate more on improving their defence and rely on their counter attacking ruthlessness if they want to climb away from mid-table mediocrity.
The highest percentage of threatening counter attacks came from Manchester City (29.9%) and Chelsea (28.1%). The same two teams also had the highest percentage of attempts on goal from their counters (14.8% and 14.4% respectively); but that is where the similarities end, with 3% of City’s counter attacks ending in a goal, compared to only 1.8% from this misfiring Chelsea team.
At the other end of the table with the lowest percentage of threatening counter attacks are Swansea City (14.8%) and West Bromwich Albion (13.6%). Swansea City’s counter attacking performance has seen the fewest counter attacks, with counter attacks making up the lowest percentage (5.8%) of all of their attacking events and the fewest attempts on goal from counter attacks. On the plus side, they successfully converted two of their counter attacks into goals.
For a team previously feared for its explosive counter attacking ability, the current Manchester United team under Louis van Gaal is a very different creature. Whilst they are near the top of the table in possession and passes, when it comes to the number of counter attacks, they are close to bottom with amongst the fewest attempts on goal from their counter attacks. However when examining goals scored per counter attack, they are actually fifth best in the league, suggesting that if the manager releases the handbrakes then perhaps his team would pose a greater attacking threat.
West Ham and Crystal Palace may have very different ambitions as the season reaches its climax, but when looking at their counter attacking statistics they are remarkably similar. Both have attempted a similar number of counters during the season, a similar number of attempts on goal, with both scoring only one counter attack goal.
In what has been a successful first season in the Premier League for AFC Bournemouth, counter attacking has clearly not featured in manager Eddie Howe’s plans as they are currently the only team yet to score from a counter attack and with only 16 of their 231 counter attacks ending in a shot on goal.