Revealed: How Premier League teams use goal kicks

The role of a goalkeeper has evolved dramatically. No longer are they judged solely on their shot-stopping abilities; their remit extends far beyond the 18-yard box. What they are tasked with when in possession has changed radically, too. 

In years gone by, a goal kick was a chance to clear your lines and get the ball into the opposition’s half under no pressure while potentially building something. But these moments often caused chaos. No matter how well prepared you are, you simply cannot predict where the knockdown or the second ball will end up, so these situations can’t be controlled. 

Managers now want to control as much as they can on the pitch and this is potentially why we’re now seeing shorter goal kicks being favoured.

By short, I’m talking about those that end in the penalty area. 

Using the Twenty3 Event Lab, I was able to create a metric labelled Goal Kicks ending in their own Penalty Area. For those interested, we have previously detailed how you go about creating your own metrics.  

Spurs top the charts for this particular metric, with 126 of their 216 goal kicks ending in their own penalty area. 

Tottenham Hotspur goal kicks vs Manchester City

Their most prolific game was against Manchester City in their season opener. At first glance, playing such a short game against one of the best pressing teams in the world could be seen as risky. However, it draws them higher up the pitch and creates space for attackers to exploit. If you bypass the press, you find yourself in favourable situations. Spurs did just that. 

Chelsea goal kicks vs Manchester City

It is a tactic teams have looked to use this term, with Chelsea also going very short in their tie against the Premier League leaders. 

Thomas Tuchel’s men didn’t switch it up against Pep Guardiola’s side though. Chelsea top the table when looking at the percentage of goal kicks ending in their own penalty area. 

The Blues (65%) are one of two teams with 60% or more – the other being Crystal Palace (60%). In fact, only six sides have a total exceeding 50%. Man City and Spurs are on 58% while Leeds United and Aston Villa see 52% of their goal kicks end in their own box. 

Despite being the team with the second-highest possession average in the Premier League, Liverpool’s short game isn’t as short as other sides, with just 41% of their goal kicks failing to go beyond the 18-yard line.

The biggest surprise might be Arsenal. Mikel Arteta’s side are controlled and dominant, yet only six teams have a lower percentage of goal kicks ending in their own box. The Gunners instead look to make the most of Aaron Ramsdale’s kicking ability. 

Perhaps the least surprising revelation was that Burnley are bottom of the pile, with just 1% of their goal kicks ending inside their own box. Why would you go short though when you have 6ft6 Wout Weghorst as the focal point of the team? Sean Dyche’s side play to their strengths and rightly so. 

In this article, all graphics were produced in the Twenty3 Toolbox.

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