Set-piece analysis: Offensive corners top-4 WSL 2020-2021 – Part I: Chelsea & Manchester City

Earlier this week I wrote about OH Leuven’s attacking corners. I didn’t only look at their routines, but also had a look at their deliveries, the expected goals generated per corner and the average xG generated by corner type. I’m going to do this as well, but this time concentrating on the Women’s Super League in England.

In this analysis I will look closely to the top-4 in England: Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United. I will analyse their expected goals from corners, how their deliveries are, their average xG per corner type and some of their successful corner routines. This is part one and will look at Chelsea and Manchester City.

I’ve chosen to look at the top-4 because I wanted to get a better idea of what the corners are in the WSL and because these top-4 teams, also are the top-4 when it comes to scored goals from corners. To get a good view of the attacking corners in this particular league, these teams are definitely worth watching in my opinion. I’m going to look at their last 4/5 games of the WSL 2020-2021 season to assess the generated xG.

Chelsea

Expected goals per corner

GameSideFootSwingZonal structureLengthZonexGGoalMinute
TottenhamLeftRightInTwo playerLongCentral0,22No13
TottenhamRightLeftInTwo playerLongCentral0No19
TottenhamLeftRightInTwo playerLongCentral0No36
TottenhamLeftRightInTwo playerLongFront post0No74
TottenhamLeftRightInTwo playerLongCentral0No79
TottenhamLeftRightInTwo playerLongCentral0,04No85
Manchester CityRightRightOutFour playerLongCentral0,28No15
Manchester CityLeftRightInTwo playerLongCentral0No18
Manchester CityRightRightOutFour playerLongFront post0,15Yes25
Manchester CityRightRightOutFour playerLongFront post0,11No70
Birmingham CityLeftRightInThree playerLongFar post0,09No18
Birmingham CityLeftRightInThree playerLongFront post0No50
Birmingham CityLeftLeftOutThree playerLongCentral0,05No56
Birmingham CityRightLeftInThree playerLongFront post0No60
Birmingham CityRightLeftInThree playerShortFar post0No60
Birmingham CityRightLeftInThree playerShortFront post0,01No64
Birmingham CityLeftLeftOutThree playerLongCentral0,07No89
Birmingham CityLeftLeftOutThree playerShortCentral0,37No90
Aston VillaRightLeftInTwo playerLongCentral0,01No12
Aston VillaRightRightOutTwo playerLongFront post0No20
Aston VillaRightRightOutTwo playerLongCentral0,11No20
Aston VillaRightLeftInTwo playerLongFar post0No28
Aston VillaRightLeftInTwo playerLongFront post0,22No44
Aston VillaLeftRightInTwo playerLongFar post0No46
Aston VillaLeftLeftOutTwo playerLongFar post0No72
EvertonLeftLeftOutTwo playerLongFront post0No3
EvertonLeftLeftOutTwo playerLongCentral0No3
EvertonLeftLeftOutTwo playerLongFront post0No22
EvertonLeftLeftOutTwo playerLongCentral0,43No25
EvertonLeftLeftOutTwo playerLongFront post0No29
EvertonLeftLeftOutTwo playerLongCentral0No33
EvertonLeftRightInTwo playerLongFront post0,01No85

In the table above you see every corner taken by Chelsea in their games against Tottenham Hotsp uts, Manchester City, Birmingham City, Aston Villa and Everton. What is interesting is that there are 32 corners taken by the Chelsea team, but only 2 of those corners have been short. In total Chelsea have generated 2,16 expected goals from those 32 corners. That is an average of 0,432 xG per game via corners.

In the game against Tottenham Hotspurs, Chelsea have generated 0,26 xG. In their game against Manchester City, Chelsea have generated 0,54 xG. In their game against Birmingham City, Chelsea have generated 0,59 xG. In their game against Aston Villa, Chelsea have generated 0,34 xG. And, in their game against Everton they have generated 0,44 xG.

Corner typeTotal xGAverage xG
Left1,280,256
Right0,890,178
Swing in0,60,12
Swing out1,570,314
Short0,380,076
Long1,780,356
Front post0,50,1
Central1,580,316
Far post0,090,018
Two player zonal1,040,208
Three player zonal0,590,118
Four player zonal0,540,108

In the table above I’ve divided the corners into certain categories to assess how many xG has been generated per corner type. If we look at which side is most successful in generating that xG, then this is the left side. When we look whether short or long corners generate the most xG, then it is the long corner option.

When we have a look at which zone – the ball is being delivered into – generates the most xG in these games, then we can conclude that the central zone generates the most xG. Finally, if we look at the successful generating xG against certain zonal structures, we can conclude that Chelsea generates the most xG against two player zonal structures in the six-yard box.

Delivery attacking corners

In the image above we see the deliveries of every corner that is taken from the left. There are 19 corners taken from the left and as you can see in green, there has been scored no goal from it. This is a success rate of 0%. What is quite interesting is that the majority of the corners have been delivered to the near post and the central zones, but that the shots attempted have all been outside the six-yard box

From the 19 corners taken, 6 shots are generated from the attacking routines. 6 of them did not result in a goal, but they were 4 shots off target and 2 blocked shots. The rest has resulted in duels where the first contact was won by the defending side rather than by Chelsea.

In the image above we see the deliveries of every corner that is taken from the right. There are 13 corners taken from the right and as you can see in green, there has been scored 1 goal from it. This is a success rate of 7,69%. What is quite interesting is that the corners have a wider variety than coming from the left.

From the 12 corners taken, 6 shots are generated from the attacking routines. 5 of them did not result in a goal, but they were 5 shots off target. The rest has resulted in duels where the first contact was won by the defending side rather than by Chelsea.

Successful corner routines

In the video above we see attacking corner routine #1 from Chelsea in their game against Manchester City. The corner comes from the right from a right-footed player, meaning the ball will swing out towards the penalty spot, rather than swing in. The position of the runners is deeper because the ball will come between six-yard box and penalty spot.

Chelsea lines up with three players just outside the six-yard bod and with two player inside the penalty area. One player in that area is more advanced to the right, while the other play is just inside the penalty area. Outside the penalty area we have two players, both with different tasks. One player will make a run into the penalty area, while the other one is more tasked with getting the cleared balls or guarding the first line of rest-defence.

As soon as the ball is kicked, we see everyone making runs, but with the ball coming between the six-yard box and the penalty spot – the runners from the edge of the penalty area will move in that direction and this is how Kerr gets on the end of it and scores a header at the front post.

In the video above we see attacking corner routine #2 from Chelsea in their game against Brighton and Hove Albion. The corner comes from the right from a right-footed player, meaning the ball will swing out towards the penalty spot, rather than swing in. The position of the runners is deeper because the ball will come between six-yard box and penalty spot.

We see two players in the six-yard box against a three player zonal structure. On the penalty spot we have three players from Chelsea who will make a run towards the ball as soon as the ball is kicked. There are two player outside the penalty area, one is for the short pass option and the other one is there for the cleared balls and/or first line of rest-defence in case of a counter-attack from this set-piece.

As soon as the ball is kicked, we see the trio of runners making movements towards the front post – but Kerr switches off and goes centrally instead of to the front post, because space has been created there. She gets on the end of the ball and guides the ball with her head to the top corner at the far post.

In the video above we see attacking corner routine #3 from Chelsea in their game against Reading. The corner comes from the left from a left-footed player, meaning the ball will swing out towards the penalty spot, rather than swing in. The position of the runners is deeper because the ball will come between six-yard box and penalty spot.

We see one player in the six-yard box against a two player zonal structure. In the penalty area we have two units of two player who will make their runs forward as soon as the ball is kicked.

As the ball is kicked we see that the two units form a line of four and move forwards towards the six-yard vox, and at the same time the player in the six-yard box loses her marker and goes to the front post. She creates space in the middle for the runners, but in this case she manages to score a header into the far post.

Manchester City

Expected goals per corner

GameSideFootSwingZonal structureLengthZonexGGoalMinute
Birmingham CityRightLeftInOne playerLongFar post0No1
Birmingham CityLeftRightInOne playerLongFar post0No28
Birmingham CityRightLeftInTwo player LongCentral0No52
Birmingham CityLeftLeftOutThree playerLongCentral0No54
Birmingham CityRightLeftInThree playerLongFar post0No54
Birmingham CityRightLeftInThree playerShortCentral0No61
Birmingham CityLeftLeftOutThree playerLongCentral0No62
Birmingham CityLeftLeftOutThree playerLongFront post0,08No64
Birmingham CityLeftLeftOutThree playerShortFront post0No71
Birmingham CityLeftLeftOutThree playerLongCentral0No74
Birmingham CityRightRightOutThree playerShortCentral0No74
Birmingham CityRightLeftInThree playerLongFar post0,16No76
Birmingham CityRightRightOutThree playerLongFront post0,47Yes84
Birmingham CityLeftLeftOutThree playerShortFar post0No86
Birmingham CityRightRightOutThree playerLongCentral0,45Yes94
ChelseaRightLeftInTwo player LongCentral0No9
ChelseaRightLeftInFour playerLongCentral0No39
ChelseaRightLeftInFour playerLongFar post0No44
ChelseaRightRightOutFour playerLongCentral0No46
ChelseaLeftLeftOutThree playerLongCentral0No51
ChelseaRightRightOutFour playerLongCentral0No57
ChelseaRightLeftInFour playerLongCentral0,07No79
ChelseaLeftLeftOutFour playerLongFar post0No91
TottenhamLeftRightInTwo player LongCentral0,07Goal4
TottenhamLeftRightInTwo player LongFar post0No16
TottenhamLeftRightInTwo player ShortFar post0No32
TottenhamRightRightOutThree playerLongFar post0,04No46
TottenhamLeftRightInTwo player LongCentral0,47No47
TottenhamLeftRightInThree playerLongFront post0No51
TottenhamLeftRightInOne playerLongCentral0,12No72
ReadingLeftRightInThree playerLongFront post0No7
ReadingRightLeftInTwo player LongCentral0No13
ReadingRightLeftInTwo player LongFront post0,04No39
ReadingLeftLeftOutTwo player LongCentral0No50
ReadingLeftRightInTwo player LongCentral0No56
ReadingRightLeftInTwo player LongFar post0No62
ReadingRightLeftInTwo player LongFront post0No69
ReadingRightLeftInTwo player LongFar post0No69
ReadingLeftLeftOutTwo player LongCentral0,27No70
ReadingRightLeftInTwo player LongCentral0No82

In the table above you see every corner taken by Manchester City in their games against Birmingham City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Reading. What is interesting is that there are 40 corners taken by the Manchester City team, but only 4 of those corners have been short. In total Manchester City have generated 2,24 expected goals from those 40 corners. That is an average of 0,067 xG per game via corners.

In the game against Birmingham City, Manchester City have generated 1,16 xG. In their game against Chelsea, Manchester City have generated 0,52 xG. In their game against Tottenham Hotspurs, Manchester City have generated 0,7 xG. In their game against Reading, Chelsea have generated 0,31 xG.

Corner typeTotal xGAverage xG
Left1,010,02525
Right1,230,03075
Swing in0,930,02325
Swing out1,310,03275
Short00
Long2,240,056
Front post0,590,01475
Central1,450,03625
Far post0,20,005
One player zonal0,120,003
Two player zonal0,850,02125
Three player zonal 1,20,03
Four player zonal0,070,00175

In the table above I’ve divided the corners into certain categories to assess how many xG has been generated per corner type. If we look at which side is most successful in generating that xG, then this is the right side. When we look whether short or long corners generate the most xG, then it is the long corner option.

When we have a look at which zone – the ball is being delivered into – generates the most xG in these games, then we can conclude that the central zone generates the most xG. Finally, if we look at the successful generating xG against certain zonal structures, we can conclude that Manchester City generates the most xG against three player zonal structures in the six-yard box.

Delivery attacking corners

In the image above we see the deliveries of every corner that is taken from the left. There are 19 corners taken from the left and as you can see in green, there has been scored one goal from it. This is a success rate of 5%. What is quite interesting is that the majority of the corners have been delivered to the central zones, but that the shots attempted have all been inside the six-yard box

From the 19 corners taken, 6 shots are generated from the attacking routines. 5 of them did not result in a goal, but they were 3 shots off target, 1 shot on target and 1 blocked shot. The rest has resulted in duels where the first contact was won by the defending side rather than by Manchester City.

In the image above we see the deliveries of every corner that is taken from the right. There are 21 corners taken from the right and as you can see in green, there has been scored 2 goals from it. This is a success rate of 4,76%. What is quite interesting is that the corners have a wider variety than coming from the left, but all near the six-yard box.

From the 21 corners taken, 5 shots are generated from the attacking routines. 3 of them did not result in a goal, but they were 2 shots off target and 1 shot on target. The rest has resulted in duels where the first contact was won by the defending side rather than by Manchester City.

Successful routines

In the video above we see attacking corner routine #1 from Manchester City. The corner comes from the right from a left-footed player, meaning the ball will swing in towards the six-yard box, rather than swing out. The position of the runners is deeper because the ball will come between six-yard box and penalty spot.

Manchester City lines up with three players just outside the six-yard box and with two player inside the six-yard box. One player in that area is more advanced to the right, while the other play is just inside the penalty area. Outside the penalty area we have two players, both with different tasks.

As soon as the ball is kicked, we see everyone making runs, but an interesting one is that a player makes a run towards the corner from the six-yard box – luring defender with her. This means that here is space created, which a runner takes advantage of and heads the ball in goal from the front post.

In the video above we see attacking corner routine #2 from Manchester City in their game against Aston Villa. The corner comes from the left from a right-footed player, meaning the ball will swing in towards the six-yard box, rather than swing out. The position of the runners is more towards the six-yard box as the ball will be delivered more towards goal.

We see a three player zonal structure employed by Aston Villa and Manchester City has four players in the six-yard box with one player standing just outside the six-yard box. She will make a run into the box with another play, so that the box will be overloaded with Manchester City player.

As soon as the ball is played, we see that it goes to the front post and Manchester City anticipates that one of the many player will be able to make a good opportunity or score a goal from this particular set piece – which also happens.

In the video above we see attacking corner routine #3 from Manchester City in their game against Arsenal. The corner comes from the left from a right-footed player, meaning the ball will swing in towards the six-yard box, rather than swing out. The position of the runners is more towards the six-yard box as the ball will be delivered more towards goal.

Manchester City has four players in the six-yard box with one player standing just outside the six-yard box. She will make a run into the box with another play, so that the box will be overloaded with Manchester City players. One player runs out of the box towards the corner, dragging a defender with her

As soon as the ball is played, we see that it goes to the front post and Manchester City anticipates that one of the many players will be able to make a good opportunity or score a goal from this particular set-piece – which also happens. This is routine is quite similar to routine #2, but it uses an element of routine #1 – the dragging of the defender to open up space at the front post.

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