Some more thoughts on high pressing

In my previous post I proposed the percentage of pressing actions (tackles + interceptions) on the opponent’s half as a metric for pressing style. The future will have to show how useful this is, but for now I’ll stick with it.

Here’s a thought: I expect that using high pressing as a defensive tactic (as opposed to dropping back and staying compact) reduces the opponent’s amount of chances, but increases the quality of those chances. I imagine a high pressing team might get caught out by a long ball that puts the opponent’s striker 1-on-1 with the keeper, while a compact team may allow the opponent to shoot more often but a defender will at least be present to put pressure on the shooter.

Let’s put it to the test. First the amount of conceded attempts:


There’s an obvious correlation (-0.82), which is not unexpected because both are correlated with team quality. Better teams press higher and concede less chances.

Now for the quality of conceded attempts I’ll simply take the amount of goals per attempt. Some really interesting stuff has been written about shot positions and expected goal percentages but simply looking at the end result should give us a bit of an idea for now:


Where I expected a positive correlation, there certainly is none (-0.25)! We learned from James Grayson that save percentages are mostly luck/random and that they will regress to the mean, but if there’s anything that influences it, it doesn’t seem to be a team’s pressing style.


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