Premier League Set Pieces Analysis: 2022/23

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Premier League Set Pieces Analysis: 2022/23

As the return of football hurtles towards its start date, we thought it was only right to recap one of the most influential parts of the game. Set pieces. From Premier League free-kick goals to corner stats and those sides who struggle with set piece goals, we’ve got you covered.

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Despite Southampton’s slide down the division last campaign, James Ward-Prowse ended the season with the most Premier League free-kick goals. It’s becoming a habit for West Ham’s new man in the middle. 

Most Premier League Free Kick Goals: Lethal Saint

The former Saints midfielder, possessing an eye for goal from 18-plus yards, managed three successful strikes from 17 dead-ball situations in 2022/23.

After recent transfer activity, the Championship will not be next in line to witness a Ward-Prowse attempt fly into the net. Behind favourites Leicester City and Leeds United, The Saints were priced at 10/1 in the summer to return to the promised land at the first time of asking. Unable to convince Ward-Prowse and Romeo Lavia to stay put, any kind of promotion push will need suitable reinforcements in the middle.

Regardless, his talent when standing over a free kick is so impressive that he has the potential establish himself as a decisive option in midfield for a host of top-flight clubs. So it was no surprise that West Ham took a punt on him. After all, he has a Premier League record to chase down.

Ward-Prowse’s winner from a dead ball situation at Stamford Bridge (0-1) was his last successful strike. It’s a goal that puts him one shy of David Beckham (18), who boasts the most free-kick goals in Premier League history. JWP has now hit 17 free-kick goals in 11 seasons (that’s 343 games, to be precise).

Beckham caressed 18 free kick goals home in 11 seasons at Old Trafford. That’s an impressive company you find yourself in, James. 

No One Gets Close To JWP

As you may have guessed by now, the four goals from set pieces this season is nothing new for the Englishman. In 2021/22, Ward-Prowse (4 from 23) was the top scorer of Premier League free-kick goals. Also, the four from 20 attempts in 2020/21 mean this season’s personal accolade made it a successive hat-trick. 

In 2020/21, only nine other players could score from a free-kick in the Premier League. Moreover, not one of Ward-Prowse’s top-tier colleagues managed two or more. The season after, only Kieran Trippier (2) oversaw multiple strikes.

Ivan Toney (2/9) and James Maddison (2/13) took their place as the players capable of hitting two successful free-kick strikes in 2022/23, whilst Ward Prowse ended the season with double their return. 

Such returns show just how difficult it is to beat a top-flight keeper, the wall, and a human draft excluder on the floor. West Ham supporters – plus David Moyes – will be licking their lips.

Premier League Penalties in 2022/23

Not quite as far out but doubly as nerve-wracking; there have been plenty of ups and downs from the penalty spot in 2022/23. It’s no surprise, given his stellar season, but Erling Haaland ended the 38-game campaign with a 100% penalty record (7/7). 

We must also give props to the rest of the 100% club with an unshakable Premier League penalty conversion rate. Four other players took at least three Premier League penalties across the season and notched every time. Calum Wilson and Ruben Neves (3/3) join Said Benrahma (4/4) of West Ham and a stone-cold Alexis Mac Allister (6/6) in Brighton.

The last person to hit double figures in converted Premier League penalties was Luka Millivojevic (10/11) in 2018/19. Wilfried Zaha, who often causes defenders nightmares from out wide, won six spot-kicks for the Serb to bury home.

Ivan Toney and Jarrod Bowen (3) were the most fouled in the box this season. Three Fulham players (Harry Wilson, Bobby Decordova-Reid, and Aleksandar Mitrovic) made up the 11 brought down in the 18-yard area on two occasions. Premier League referee, Michael Oliver, blew for 11 penalties in 30 of his officiated matches this term. That equates to a spot-kick every 2.73 games.

No team scored more Premier League penalties than Manchester City’s nine from the spot. Brentford’s seven came the closest to the league champions. The Bees were certainly not the team expected to push the champions all the way in said metric. 

The Cherries’ zero penalty goals fell just behind relegated Leeds United and Crystal Palace, who scored just the solitary goal from 12 yards.

Simon Hooper Threatening Records

Nearer the business end of the season, we saw three penalties in one game. Simon Hooper was the man in the middle, overseeing Leeds vs Newcastle on game-week 36. The Toon were still scrapping for the right to be part of the Champions League conversation. The hosts, however, were clinging on to survival hopes with Sam Allardyce steering the battered and bruised ship. Three Premier League penalties in one match is a joint-second-highest penalty record in a Premier League fixture.

Similarly to Leeds’ season, the penalties were a letdown for the home crowd. Callum Wilson scored his two from the spot. But, despairingly, Patrick Bamford missed his to make it 2-0 to Leeds en route to a priceless three points. Five minutes later, it was 1-1 via Newcastle’s first penalty and Wilson’s 16th goal of the season. Football can be ever so cruel. 

The trio of pens threatened the Premier League record set in 2014/15. Jonathon Moss gave four spot-kicks during Tottenham’s visit to the Etihad Stadium on that occasion. Sergio Aguero bagged a brace from the spot similarly to Wilson at Elland Road. The Argentinian, unlike him, missed the penalty wedged between his two successful attempts. Spurs frontman, Roberto Soldado, had no luck with his penalty kick, aptly summing up his brief stay in England. 

City ran out 4-1 winners in the end in a rather entertaining spectacle up north.

Premier League Set Piece Goals in 2022/23

There are plenty of opportunities borne from Premier League set pieces other than the likes of Ward-Prose hitting top bins. Whether pumping a ball into the box from a deep free kick or fizzing in a corner to be met following a well-worked corner routine, set pieces can prove invaluable for working high-quality opportunities.

Of course, as you’d expect, some sides work on set pieces much more than others. Equally, elsewhere, other teams naturally find themselves in dangerous areas to entice opposing players. Both instances lead to a higher volume of goals from set pieces. 

Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool finished the season with 17 goals from set pieces in the Premier League. Tottenham and Brentford weren’t far off with 16. The Gunners (15), Manchester City and Fulham (14) complete the top five totals. 

Stats for: The Most Premier League free-kick goals, dominates Premier League corner stats & consistently converts Premier League penalties?
Premier LeagueSet Piece Goals – WhoScored

Interestingly, it’s third-place Manchester United (5) who scored the fewest alongside their 75-point haul. Moreover, their lowly five goals scored comes after shooting from free kicks on twenty occasions. Only Crystal Palace (21) and Manchester City (20) did so as often.

However, Erik ten Haag’s men ranked number one for goals on the counter-attack in the Premier League (9). That stood them on two more counter-attacking goals than rivals, Liverpool and City (7).

The Worst Team At Set Pieces In The Premier League

Head and shoulders above the rest, no team conceded more Premier League goals from set pieces than Bournemouth (21). That lofty figure works out to conceding 0.55 set-piece goals per game last season. It’s an area Gary O’Neil needs to work on if they are to secure survival again next term. 

Nottingham Forest (16) and Aston Villa (14) have the unwanted displeasure of rounding off the top three worst sides at defending Premier League set pieces. 

Leeds United found life in the Premier League challenging from set pieces. The 15 conceded after their long-awaited top-flight return in 2020/21 was a division-high. As were the 19 goals conceded in 2021/22. 

Eleven set-piece goals shipped in the season just gone was a significant improvement for Leeds United. Nevertheless, when conceding 54 goals from open play – the most of all 20 teams – there’s only one way you’re heading. 

Premier League Corner Stats in 2022/23

Of the 21 aforementioned goals The Cherries struggled to contain, 16 came from corners. It’s the perfect opportunity to get the big boys into the area and go head-to-head with another team’s ariel and defensive capabilities in an 18-yard box. 

Stats for: The Most Premier League free-kick goals, dominates Premier League corner stats & consistently converts Premier League penalties?
Premier League Corner Kicks Conceded – FBREF

The Premier League corner stats don’t shine too brightly on Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest, and Brentford (9) either. All three shipped the second-highest goals from defending corners in 2022/23. At the other end, Liverpool didn’t concede one goal from a corner all season.

West Ham, Everton, and Manchester City got the closest with four corners finding their net. Perhaps a nod towards David Moyes and Sean Dyche’s work at defending set pieces. City? Well, the ball is usually at the other end of the pitch. That should best explain why their Premie League corner stats veer towards them conceding so few.

Manchester City (238) are second to only Newcastle, who took a Premier League-high 270 corners last season, averaging 7.11 corners per90. Liverpool’s 235 (6.18 corners per90) concludes the top three corner takers. Newcastle right-back, Kieran Tripper, took the most corners in 2022/23 as his side sauntered towards Champions League qualification. Trippier’s 216 total ended far away from Ward-Prowse’s 145 in second spot.

No matter the stats which reared their head last season, there will again be an intense focus on how certain clubs can grapple the upper hand via set pieces.

Can Luton Town use their physicality to lay siege on Premier League survival equipped with a handy corner routine or two? Can improvement in Bournemouth edge them past Premier League newcomers for another season?

And can Liverpool post an unlikely back-to-back double of zero goals conceded from corners in 2023/24? Well, we shall see!