Anyone who has had the displeasure of watching a football game with me will know there are a few statements I make during a match that seem outrageous. The prime example is my well known “fact” that left footed penalty takers always miss. Now I’m not insane, I know that the odd left footed penalty taker does manage to defy the odds and score from 12 yards, but the more I mention it, the more evidence I have to support my theory. It’s probably just coincidence and that there are simply less left footed players so when one does take a penalty I’m watching it much more intently. Or so I thought!
A quick google shows an investigation by Prozone – the leading organisation in football analysis – into the theory of penalty kicks and in part the difference between right and left footed penalty takers. It appears that this is more than just a coincidence. This investigation shows that quite simply right footed players have more variation in their kicks. The Prozone support explains this best:
“Hitting to their strong side 38.6% of the time, right-footers shot to the left more often than the overall average (37.2%), but also went either right or down the middle with 61.5% of their penalties. In contrast, left-footed players hit to the right (their more comfortable side) with exactly half of all their penalties, a figure which suggests that they are perhaps less willing to vary their approach and so are statistically more predictable for goalkeepers looking to inform their natural intuition with objective analysis.”
So there you have it, despite my minor exaggeration it does appear that left footed players are more likely to miss! So what other pearls of wisdom do I have, I hear you ask? Well as accurate as one statement was another favourite of mine is complete rubbish. I’ve been known to claim that ‘he who misses first, always wins!’ in a penalty shootout. Well the same Prozone investigation states that the team who misses first goes on to lose 81.2% of the time. Not my best work I admit!
Other ‘facts’ include former players scoring against their old club. Admittedly I’m not the only one who has picked up on this, and it probably has something to do with the reaction of the crowd getting their former heroes more motivated to score. I’m sure Arsenal fans were dreading the thought of Robin van Persie scoring against them yesterday and it only took three minutes for him to do so. Being a Charlton fan certain players stick in the mind when they leave and a few have come back to score against us. Scott Parker and Claus Jensen being two of my favourite players during their time at The Valley, who left and then scored on their return. Also a certain Mr Defoe has been known to come back and score against us, much to the delight of the Covered End faithful as you’d imagine!
The final statement I generally make is that it is very easy to tempt fate in football and talking about an opposition player too much is just asking for trouble. A trap that I fell in to myself yesterday which lead me to write this weeks blog. With Charlton 1-0 up at home, I was reliving the joy I too when Jon Woodgate made his debut for Real Madrid and managed to score an own goal and get sent off in the same game. I should have known better. Within 5 minutes, Woodgate’s current club Middlesbrough get an inocuous free kcik which they launch into the box and who rises to give me a metaphorical kick in the nads? Jon bloody Woodgate! From then on I knew it wasn’t going to be our day and we went on to lose yet again.
So there you have it, there are a few things in football that just seem to happen whether you like it or not. Some of these are just circumstantial and coincidence and some do actually have some science behind them. Either way I will be keeping my mouth shut on Tuesday night!