How to relativize Torres’ alleged struggles in front of goal in 2011/2012

Today I share with you a graph with the datas provided by the very exciting MCFC Analytics project allowing you to register and get many OPTA figures from the 2011/2012 season in order to analyse it. I chosed to focus on Fernando Torres but I think I’ll extend this focus to another strikers in Premier League in the next weeks to highlight players such as the highest goalscorer, the most clinical one, the most wasteful etc…

The point with Fernando Torres is to notice that he barely receives the service a team challenging for the top of the table should provide his main striker and that despite this isolation, figures show that the much criticized striker still takes the chances when he gets ones. Further analysis on here will show how Swansea still managed to provide twice much clear goalscoring chances (OPTA calls it “big chances”) to Danny Graham (22) than Chelsea to Fernando Torres (11). And this, despite the fact that the former Watford striker was statistically one of the most isolated strikers in Europe in terms of touches per minute (among other figures).

Figures aren’t enough to prove a point, still one cannot deny that it’s often a sufficient object lesson to confirm a trend. A focus on Fernando Torres during games is enough to highlight the Spaniard’s movements, which are barely and not often on the same wavelength than his team mates likely to provide him support.

What is a clear-cut chance?

According to OPTA’s glossary: A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range.

Robin Van Persie had 42 clear cut chances (big chances), Yakubu 26, Adebayor 37, relegated Wolves’ Fletcher 11.

A chance is the sum of the assists and the key pass (pass leading to a shot, in other terms, an assist without an eventual goal)

Here, the graph tries to show that Torres wasn’t that inefficient in front of goal than the opinion could be likely to think in regard of the heavy mediatic coverage. As an illustration, the former Liverpool striker has been provided just 11 clear cut chances (big chances) and scoring 5 of them, including twice games in whom all clear cut chances were converted into goals (Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers). Twice non taken big chances prevented a win, against Norwich City (0-0) and Manchester United (3-3), with the postulate that the scoreline wouldn’t change after Torres’ converted big chance. The volley over the bar in stoppage time at Ewood Park didn’t prevent Chelsea to come back from Blackburn with 3 points after Lampard’s earlier goal.

Fernando Torres scored once at Old Trafford, before missing THAT golden chance. In that game he also drove over a shoot from close range after having get rid of 3 Manchester defenders in the box and tested his fellow countryman De Gea with a shot on target later.


Fernando Torres missed a so called “sitter” at Old Trafford during his side’s 3-1 defeat by Manchester United last September. The scoreline was 3-1 for Manchester United, found through space by Ramires, Fernando Torres got rid of David De Gea with a quick feet stepover before missing the empty net from 5 yards with his weaker left foot at the middle of the second half, in front of a stand full of MU fans. That day, despite the fact he scored 10 minutes before to reduce MU’s 3 goal lead acquired in the first half, and despite Wayne Rooney’s similarly laughable miss, slipping when taking a penalty kick sending the ball 10 yards away from the goal ; medias only focused on Fernando Torres’s miss, downgrading the rest into the background.

This analysis isn’t aimed to free Fernando Torres of every critic that can decently be made (the physical aspect and the mediatic coverage as well as the presence of Didier Drogba alongside him are points to keep in mind though), as it can be highlighted by the important amount of turnovers the Spaniard made last season. Being dispossessed means “giving the ball to the opponent after a mistake or a poor control” ; Fernando Torres gave the ball away 69 times in 20+12 games (2.2 times a game). He was then the 17th player in that this classification which one can not particulary boast about. (Giving the ball away doesn’t prevent to score goals as Emmanuel Adebayor, Peter Odemwingie, Demba Ba, Yakubu or Clinton Dempsey still scored 17, 10, 16 and 17 goals last season.)

One can argue as well that not being in the right position when he could have been is a valuable enough critic with Torres seeming to stay willingly (fear to miss?) outside the box during some games of last season. And of course that cannot be quantified. However, the graph would tend to demonstrate that Torres’ not matching physical, mental or it’s technical consequence execution abilities didn’t help his aready isolated enough situation rather than him wasting chances after chances like if had been provided loads of it last season. That, would be sufficient to think that’s not the best conditions gathered for a striker in free fall to regain his confidence.

The graph would then rather be a contextualization than a tangible proof of clearance, that’s basically my point here. We can notice Torres’ decent start of the season (until Arsenal), his difficult autumn (mainly as a substitute, started more than 10 games in a row as a sub) his good winter period (after the boxing day fixture against Fulham) where he provided a lot of chances to his team mates. After the 3 non-played games (WBA, City, Spurs), the 8 last columns  are games played under the guidance of caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo.

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2 thoughts on “How to relativize Torres’ alleged struggles in front of goal in 2011/2012

  1. Pingback: MCFC Analytics – Summary of blog posts #5 « Analyse Football

  2. so the problem not just his fault, but still have part from teammate, and the problem from the manager, the manager have quality player in his side, but cant make team provide service and allow torres to get more space and clear cut chance

    can benitez improve not just torres but the team, time will tell

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