Revealed: The Premier League’s Corner Kick Kings

 • by Sam McGuire
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Corner kicks are an under-utilised weapon in the modern game with more sides now searching for the picture perfect goal. For a period, managers concentrated on coming up with creative corner kick routines but it soon became apparent that there was little value in doing so.

According to a report in the Washington Post in 2015, there’s a 3.5 per cent of scoring from a corner kick. This means, roughly, that teams have a one in 29 chance of the ball ending up in the back of the net.

With the odds not really in their favour, managers stopped putting as much emphasis on these routines in training. However, it appears as though teams are now, once again, seeing the value in corner kicks.

Not only are they an opportunity to score, they’re a chance to keep pressure on the opposition meaning those who dominate the ball, teams like Manchester City who average 66 per cent possession, are working on varied routines to ensure they retain the ball and don’t allow the team they’re up against an easy way out.

Meanwhile, sides who don’t dominate possession, like Newcastle United with an average of 43 per cent possession, see corners as their opportunity to do some damage.

We’ve decided to take a detailed look at which teams are the most dangerous from corners and which Premier League teams struggle to defend them.

Attacking corners

Team Corners Goals scored Corner into goal conversion %
Stoke 109 7 6.42
West Ham 112 7 6.25
Newcastle 127 7 5.51
Bournemouth 146 8 5.48
Arsenal 161 8 4.97
Leicester 124 6 4.84
West Brom 130 6 4.62
Swansea 110 5 4.55
Watford 129 5 3.88
Southampton 163 6 3.68
Manchester City 204 7 3.43
Huddersfield 118 3 2.54
Liverpool 159 4 2.52
Crystal Palace 160 4 2.50
Manchester United 166 4 2.41
Chelsea 172 4 2.33
Spurs 180 4 2.22
Everton 98 2 2.04
Brighton 116 1 0.86
Burnley 112 0 0.00

It’s best to address the elephants in the room. Burnley, Everton and Crystal Palace, along with West Brom, are perhaps the most direct teams in the English top flight.

Due to this, there’s an assumption they’re good in the air and, therefore, lethal from corners. But, as you can see in the table above, they’re not proficient by any means.

Sean Dyche‘s Burnley have failed to convert a single corner all season, despite four of their players ranking in the top 15 for aerial duels won. As a team, they are blessed with players who can put dangerous crosses into the penalty area. The fact they’re yet to convert one of these is peculiar.

Everton are a complex bunch. As detailed in the latest episode of Three Minute Myths, the Toffees aren’t playing to their strengths. Instead, they’re playing a style that Sam Allardyce has used throughout his managerial career.

He’s a route one manager but he didn’t have a target man at his disposal until Cenk Tosun arrived in January for £27million. The Turkey international hasn’t hit the ground running either meaning Everton are a direct team without an established focal point.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin ranks seventh in the entire league for headers won per 90 minutes. Michael Keane comes in at 28th but then the drop off is a steep one to Ashley Williams in 70th.

Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke

Crystal Palace have the best aerial battering ram in the Premier League in Christian Benteke. He wins 8.8 aerial duels per 90 minutes but missed a number of games because of injury. James Tomkins, with 3.5, is the next on the list for the Eagles so it’s easy to understand why they’re failing to be a threat from corner kicks and converting just 2.5 per cent of them.

it’s a similar story with Manchester United who, despite having a team of giants, have put away just the 2.41 per cent of corners they have this season. Furthermore, only three teams have had more corners than the Red Devils meaning they aren’t making the most of their opportunities.

Bournemouth and Arsenal, teams famed for their easy on the eye football, have scored the most goals from corners this season with eight. Being a threat from these situations isn’t something you would usually associate with either team but Bournemouth convert 5.48 per cent of their corners while Arsenal finish off 4.97 per cent of theirs.

Manchester City, as you’d expect, have had the most corners. They average the highest amount of possession in the league and have the most shots per 90 so it was inevitable they’d top that the list.

The final shock comes via Stoke City. They top the list, managing to convert 6.42 per cent of their corners. It’s remarkable that 25 per cent of their goals this season have come from corner kicks, with Paul Lambert‘s men struggling to score in open play. It’s been a weapon for the team languishing in 19th position.

Defending corners

Team Corners conceded Goals conceded Corner into goal conversion %
Brighton 169 11 6.51
Watford 145 9 6.21
Leicester 168 10 5.95
Crystal Palace 141 7 4.96
Liverpool 92 4 4.35
Spurs 119 5 4.20
Southampton 127 5 3.94
Stoke 185 7 3.78
Arsenal 117 4 3.42
West Brom 127 4 3.15
West Ham 140 4 2.86
Huddersfield 148 4 2.70
Bournemouth 149 4 2.68
Everton 153 4 2.61
Manchester United 121 3 2.48
Burnley 185 4 2.16
Swansea 140 3 2.14
Newcastle 171 3 1.75
Chelsea 124 2 1.61
Manchester City 75 1 1.33

Champions-elect City are the best when it comes to defending corners, but how much of that is down to volume? They have faced just 75 this season, the fewest in the Premier League. Chelsea are the next best but they have a mean defence in general.

The fact Newcastle and Swansea City come in third and fourth is a surprise. The Swans aren’t famed for their aerial ability and rank mid-table when looking at corners scored. Rafael Benítez’s side, however, are pretty dominant at both ends of the pitch.

They’re third for corners scored and fourth best for fewest conceded. If Benítez can do one thing it’s organise a team.

Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool concede more than four per cent of the corners they face and, along with Arsenal, are the only top six teams in the bottom ten.

The Reds are notorious for conceding from corners and though they’ve improved over recent weeks it’s no surprise to see them high on this list. They’ve faced 17 more corners than Manchester City but conceded three more goals.

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It’s even stranger when you realise Jürgen Klopp‘s team have more players in the top 40 for aerial duels won than Guardiola’s men.

Spurs, on the other hand, are considered to be one of the best defensive units in the Premier League. Yet they’re ranked 15th in the table for being able to defend corners, with 4.2 per cent of those they face resulting in a goal.

Leicester City are another surprising name on the list. They’re a team famed for their resilience, but this season they’re unable to repel corners.

After 27 games, 5.95 per cent of the corners they’ve faced have ended up in the back of the net. A surprise when you consider three of their players rank in the top 45 for aerial duels won.

As you can see from the second table, the Foxes have also conceded the second highest number of goals from corners in the league. It’s a weakness teams will seek to exploit.

The team with the biggest issue, however, is Brighton and Hove Albion. The Seagulls have netted just one of their 116 corners while conceding 11 of the 169 they’ve faced. This means 6.51 per cent of the corners they’ve faced have resulted in a goal and a staggering 30 per cent of the goals they’ve conceded this year have come from this scenario.

Chris Hughton‘s side, remarkably, have one of the meanest defences in the entire league in open play. But corner kicks are their kryptonite.

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