As of 13 February, 23.4% of the total goals scored in the 2017/18 Premier League season came from set-pieces. Gaining an edge from corners, free-kicks and penalties can therefore significantly improve a team's prospects of fulfilling their objectives, but it's safe to say some sides excel more than others from dead-ball situations.
In this slideshow, we rank all 20 Premier League teams by the amount of set-piece goals they've conceded so far in 2017/18, counting down from the fewest to the most.
20. Man City, 1
Runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City have excelled in almost every area this season, so it’s hardly a surprise that they’ve conceded the fewest number of goals from set-pieces in the division. Pep Guardiola’s side are regularly praised for their attacking exploits, but it’s also notable that their backline has been breached on just 20 occasions in the first 27 games of 2017/18.
Only one of those concessions was from a dead ball – at Huddersfield back in November – meaning a league-low 5% of the goals City have let in came from a free-kick, flag-kick or penalty.
19. Chelsea, 3
Second-season syndrome could cost Antonio Conte his job as Chelsea manager, with the pressure still on the Italian despite a recent 3-0 win against West Brom.
The Premier League champions conceded a penalty in the 4-1 loss to Watford a week before that triumph over the Baggies, Troy Deeney making no mistake from 12 yards after Gerard Deulofeu was felled by Thibaut Courtois. In general, though, Chelsea have been pretty diligent when it comes to defending set-pieces, conceding only three goals from such situations all season.
18. Liverpool, 6
Only a fool would deny that Liverpool need to tighten up defensively. The statistics don’t lie: the Reds have shipped 31 goals this term – 50% more than the Mancunian clubs, more than Burnley, and only five fewer than newly-promoted drop-dodgers Newcastle and Brighton.
However, the suspicion that the Reds are particularly suspect from set-pieces isn’t backed up by the numbers. Jurgen Klopp’s side have conceded six goals from corners, free-kicks and penalties in 2017/18, which is among the best records in the division.
16= Newcastle, 7
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez was unhappy with referee Andre Marriner’s decision to award Crystal Palace a penalty in his side’s trip to Selhurst Park in early February, but Luka Milivojevic made no mistake from the spot to earn the Eagles a point.
The Magpies’ rearguard has now been broken seven times from set-pieces in the 2017/18 season, which represents 19.4% of their total concessions in the Premier League.
16= Burnley, 7
It may surprise many readers to learn that Burnley have scored the fewest goals from set-pieces in the Premier League this season, with 18 of their 21 strikes coming from open play. Sean Dyche’s side have at least been pretty solid at the other end, conceding seven times from dead-ball situations in their first 27 top-flight fixtures.
There’s certainly room for improvement for the Clarets, but their overall defensive record is highly impressive – Burnley have let in just 24 goals, fewer than any team bar Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs.
9= Man United, 8
A tally of eight goals conceded from set-pieces may not sound like many, but it could be argued that Manchester United have bigger problems from corners, free-kicks and penalties than all but one of their Premier League rivals.
That’s because 42.1% of the goals they’ve let in this term have come from dead-ball situations, a higher ratio than every other top-tier club. Although Jose Mourinho’s men have conceded the fewest goals in the division, there’s plenty of room for improvement as far as their set-piece defending is concerned.
9= Arsenal, 8
Arsenal’s defensive vulnerabilities have once again come to the fore in 2017/18, with Arsene Wenger’s men having conceded more goals than top-six rivals Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool.
Eight of the 36 they’ve let in have been from free-kicks, penalties or corners - including a spot-kick against Chelsea in January - which works out as 22.2% of their total.
9= Crystal Palace, 8
Newcastle midfielder Mohamed Diame scored the opening goal in his side’s meeting with Crystal Palace at the start of February, turning home Kenedy’s corner at the back post after the Eagles failed to clear the ball.
It was the eighth time Palace have come unstuck when defending a set-piece in 2017/18, with just under a fifth of their opponents’ goals coming from dead balls.
9= Tottenham, 8
Tottenham have been defensively resolute throughout Mauricio Pochettino’s time at the helm, but opposition set-pieces have caused the north Londoners a fair few problems in 2017/18.
Conceding eight times from corners, free-kicks and penalties is far from the worst record in the Premier League, but that figure represents a third of the total goals Spurs have let in this term.
9= Stoke, 8
Stoke’s main issue in 2017/18 has been their defensive frailties, which has left them embroiled in a relegation battle when they were widely tipped for a mid-table finish at the start of the campaign.
The Potters have been reasonably solid from set-pieces, though, with the overwhelming majority of their 53 goals against coming from open play. Indeed, a ratio of 15.1% strikes conceded from corners, free-kicks and penalties is lower than all but two Premier League outfits – Manchester City and Chelsea.
9= Swansea, 8
Carlos Carvalhal has done a tremendous job of reviving Swansea’s fortunes since taking charge at the Liberty Stadium, with victories over Liverpool, Arsenal and Burnley lifting the Welsh outfit out of the bottom three.
There’s still plenty of work for the Portuguese to do, but he's certainly had a positive effect on his team's defending from dead balls. Swansea have only conceded one goal from a set-piece since his arrival - and even that effort, scored by Spurs' Fernando Llorente, should have been ruled out for offside.
9= Bournemouth, 8
Bournemouth were among the division's best teams at defending set-plays before their recent 4-1 defeat by Huddersfield, when two concessions from dead balls saw them rise up this ranking.
Eddie Howe's have enacted several well-rehearsed routines from attacking free-kicks and corners this seasons, but the Cherries will be looking to tighten up when defending them in the coming weeks.
6= Everton, 9
Sam Allardyce has always underlined the importance of set-pieces in both an attacking and defensive sense, so the former West Ham, Sunderland and Crystal Palace manager will have been disappointed to see his side concede from a corner in their 5-1 thrashing by Arsenal in early February.
That was the eighth instance of Everton letting in a goal from a dead ball this season, and their tally rose to nine when Palace midfielder Luka Milivojevic scored from the penalty spot at Goodison Park a week later.
6= Southampton, 9
Southampton conceded two headers in their victory over West Brom at the beginning of February, one of which came from a corner. It was the ninth time their goalkeeper has been beaten from a set-piece in 2017/18, which leaves them joint-sixth in this ranking.
Saints are among the most effective teams in the division in the opposition’s penalty area, having scored 12 goals – a tally bettered by only Manchester City and Arsenal – from free-kicks, penalties and corners. Nine concessions means 22.5% of the goals they’ve let in have come from dead balls, however.
6= West Brom, 9
Tony Pulis has long been renowned as a set-piece specialist, but the final few months of his West Brom reign saw opponents score several goals from dead balls. The club’s players haven’t been able to rediscover the Welshman’s methods since his departure in November, with the Baggies still among the worst offenders when it comes to defending corners, free-kicks and penalties.
Scoring goals has been more of a problem than conceding them for West Brom, although nine of their own 21 strikes have come from set-pieces.
5. Leicester, 10
Leicester have designs on a seventh-place finish this season, but they may have to improve their defensive record from set-pieces if they’re to end the campaign in the position closest to the big six.
Ten of the 40 goals the Foxes have conceded in 2017/18 have either been from corners, free-kicks or penalties, including Federico Fernandez’s header in a 1-1 draw with Swansea in early February.
4. Huddersfield, 11
A 4-1 thrashing of Bournemouth lifted Huddersfield out of the bottom three, but Stoke are still the only top-tier club who have conceded more goals than the Terriers in 2017/18.
Unsurprisingly, David Wagner’s charges are one of the least watertight units from dead balls as well as open play. Huddersfield have let in 11 goals from corners, free-kicks and penalties so far this season, which has done little to boost their survival prospects.
3. West Ham, 13
West Ham kept three clean sheets in consecutive clashes with Chelsea, Arsenal and West Ham in December, but a recent shut-out against Watford was their first in nine Premier League matches.
David Moyes will be keen to oversee an improvement in the Hammers’ defensive record between now and the end of the season. A host of injuries to first-team regulars hasn’t helped the Scot’s cause, but bettering West Ham’s current rate of 0.48 goals conceded from set-pieces per game should be a priority.
2. Watford, 14
Watford are the second worst offenders in the Premier League when it comes to keeping the ball out of their net from set-pieces. Around 30% of their opponents’ goals have been from corners, free-kicks and penalties, which was part of the reason for their rapid decline under Marco Silva.
New manager Javi Gracia will presumably have identified the issue, and the Hornets have looked a great deal more secure from set-plays in the Spaniard’s first three matches in charge.
1. Brighton, 15
With a whopping 15 goals conceded from set-pieces, Brighton top this ranking. Chris Hughton’s side’s overall defensive record is pretty good – the backlines of West Ham, Watford, Leicester, Everton, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Swansea, Southampton, Huddersfield, Stoke and West Brom have all been breached more often than Albion’s – but dead balls have been the seasiders’ Achilles heel.
A remarkable 41.7% of the goals Brighton have conceded have been from set-plays. Had their marking been a little tighter, Hughton and his players could already be on the brink of celebrating another season of Premier League football.
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