With 2+ goals, Villa would be the league's best team

Malcolm Couzens

Aston Villa are a team who can't seem to score consistently. What does that mean for the club now, and what could it mean?

One of the most striking features of the 2013-14 Aston Villa squad is ability to score in droves, but their inability to do so consistently. Multi-match stretches of being held scoreless will be interrupted by seemingly-out-of-nowhere bursts of 3 or 4 goals. The way in which this club has scored has led to some remarkable statistics. First, let's make sure we're all on the same page. Here is a chart of the rolling total of goals scored this season (top line) and the goals scored in each match (bottom line). You can hover over the data points to get specific numbers and see to which match they are connected:

Just as we would expect, there are long periods of stagnant or no growth in that rolling total, punctuated with rapid jumps over the course of a few matches. But this chart doesn't quite get across how disproportionate Villa's goal scoring is. The club have had five matches this season (17.9% of their total) in which they have scored three or more goals, which have accounted for seventeen goals (55% of their total). It's tough to see just what's happening, but the chart below takes a stab at that. If you click on "Matches" you will see the distribution of matches in which Villa have scored 0, 1, 2, and 3+ goals. Clicking on goals scored will yield the proportion of the club's total goals scored in those matches:

Suddenly the fact that 74% of the club's goals have been scored in 29% of their matches is a bit more jarring. But what is the result of all of this? Is it bad for Aston Villa that they have spent 20 of their matches scoring one goal or nothing? As you'd expect, the answer is a definite yes. In matches in which they have scored 2+ goals, Aston Villa are undefeated (that includes draws). Bump the number to 3+ goals and you've got a perfect 15 points from 5 matches.

Zero- and one-goal matches, on the other hand, have seen far less success, netting a record of 2-5-13. The chart below shows the breakdown in a more detailed manner:

The moral of this story is that when Aston Villa can score two or more goals, they are one of the best teams in the league. Their conversion rate of points from points possible is 83.3% when they do that. If they were able to carry that in all results, the club would be sitting on 70 points right now.

Obviously a team will be better when scoring two or more goals, but it's the sharp drop from there to the other end that has put Villa in such a perilous position. When scoring one or fewer goals, their conversion rate drops from the stellar 83.3% to 18.3%. If they'd been that dismal over the course of the season, they'd currently have 15 points.

Villa are, it seems, a team that live and die by their attack. While the defense is significantly improved over recent seasons, it has been too much to ask them to protect 1-0 leads, or even 1-1 draws. When Christian Benteke, Gabby Agbonlahor, Andi Weimann, and increasingly Leandro Bacuna are clicking, Villa are a team who could challenge for top-six dominance. Unfortunately, their clicking has been an all-too-rare occurrence this season, and thus we're still forced to worry about relegation.

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