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Orlando Pirates: Analyzing Their Attack

Laduma Analytics takes an insightful look at the Orlando Pirates attack, they shoot more than others so what is the problem?

PSL Orlando Pirates tactics

Over the weekend, Orlando Pirates drew 0-0 with Golden Arrows – their third goalless draw in 11 games of the campaign, as many as they had all of last season. They’ve fired four blanks already in the opening 11 games. Last season, they had four blanks over the first 20 games. With every blank, Sundowns (and soon other teams) will start disappearing into the distance.

This season, Pirates currently average one goal a game, and by this metric Pirates are eighth on the table. When you consider xG per 90, Orlando Pirates (1.2 xG per 90) are also eighth on the table. And when you consider xG against, Pirates (1.02 xGA per 90) are slightly better at sixth. Midtable metrics win you midtable prizes.

Yet, in terms of total shot generation, Orlando Pirates are having a great season. 123 shots taken in 11 games places them on top of that particular table.

The split in the number of shots they are generating, and the subsequent goals (and results) is probably worth investigating. In answering this question, we explored two areas (there are more) that could help explain Pirates’ underperformance in front of goal.

1. Shot Quality

Sure, you can lead the league for shots taken, but quality beats quantity any day when it comes to this all-important metric. Pirates average a shot every eight minutes, so taking too many shots from harmless areas is akin to squandering possession. Not only is it wasteful, but it can also give an inflated and misleading sense of domination.

Impatience usually accompanies a lack of goals, and this could partly explain poor shot choices. Against Arrows, Pirates had taken five shots before the 15th minute, but those shots totalled only 0.11 xG.

The flat incremental line shows that Pirates danger only grew marginally throughout the game (the longer the vertical line, the bigger the chance created). Despite the early barrage, it was the first time in two months Pirates finished a match with less than 1xG (since the Sundowns defeat).

In terms of the average number of shots per game, there is little difference between last season (12) and this season (11). However, in terms of xG, Pirates’ non-penalty xG per 90 drops from 1.5 xG per 90 last season to 1,1 xG per 90 now, meaning they’ve lost a significant 0.4xG per 90. It’s not surprising then that six of Pirates’ 11 opponents (45%) have out-xGed them this season (created ‘better’ chances in a game). Throughout all of last season, this happened only nine times (30%). These are some significant drops.

2. The State Of The Game

The fact that they have trailed in six of eight matches with goals is a crucial factor to be considered. In 2019/20, Pirates conceded their first goal in just seven matches. This season, they’ve done so six times already. Last season, Pirates conceded the first goal at home three times, and they’ve already matched that this season.

The impatience that comes with a lack of goals is made worse when you’re consistently trailing. Teams sit back, and you’re left with speculative attempts at goal. Desperation can start to creep in, and players take shots from anywhere, including areas that would not be considered prime positions. Like all three 0-0 draws, Pirates outshot Arrows, but the 14-7 shot count would make it seem Pirates were convincing. Yet, none of the shots really threatened (all less than 0.2 xG).

Pirates have opened the scoring in just two matches this season, and trailed in six of the eight games with goals. Kjell Jonevret was the coach the last time Pirates lost a match in which they scored first, over four years ago.

The problems that arise when a team takes shots out of desperation can keep growing if they are not addressed quickly. Pirates must be wary that this does not get out of hand.

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