Skip to main content

Denied by the woodwork: The luckiest and unluckiest Premier League teams in front of the goal

In the realm of modern football, where inches and milliseconds can make the difference between victory or defeat, luck has always played a significant role. From goals disallowed due to a player being fractionally offside to shots ricochetting off the post, the element of luck often casts its shadow over the beautiful game. While precision and skill determine many outcomes, there are moments when luck emerges as the ultimate decider.

“Ooooh how unlucky,” is the collective sigh that resonates when a well-aimed shot finds only the woodwork instead of the back of the net. This sentiment reverberated on Sunday when Kevin de Bruyne’s penalty strike met the crossbar, sealing Manchester City’s fate in the Community Shield battle against Arsenal. This poignant instance prompted the SportingPedia team to embark on an investigation into the luckiest and unluckiest teams in the previous Premier League season. To do so, we firstly calculated each team’s woodwork hits as percentage of all their shots:

Woodwork hits as percentage of all shots

When we delve into the data, an interesting pattern emerges. Looking at the number of times teams were denied by the woodwork, Newcastle is the unfortunate leader as the most ill-fated team of the campaign. However, when we consider the proportion of woodwork hits in relation to the total number of shots, Aston Villa takes the undesirable accolade. The Villans’ shots found the bar a staggering 4.87% of the time, reflecting a striking lack of fortune.

Amidst these revelations lies an intriguing finding – the Premier League’s luckiest team hitting the woodwork just 6 times during the last season was Leeds. Paradoxically, they faced relegation to the Championship despite boasting this enviable title. A mere 1.3% of their shots bounced off the woodwork, a testament to the fickle nature of luck in football.

The numbers paint an illustrative picture. Aston Villa experienced the woodwork denying them nearly every 20th shot they took, whereas for Leeds, this misfortune struck just over once per 100 shots. Aston Villa closed the season on a high note, reaching the European slots, while Leeds’ luck didn’t manifest in their league status.

Woodwork hits as percentage of all goals

When we added the number of goals scored to the equation, another curious comparison arised. Chelsea occupies the second slot in this ranking. The Blues from London endured a subpar season by their lofty standards, settling in the 12th position. As we assessed their performances, they could also lament their bad luck. With the second-highest woodwork-to-goals ratio in the league at 39.47%, Chelsea’s fortunes seemed to have turned against them.

An intriguing observation arises between Arsenal and the Blues, both hitting the woodwork 15 times each. However, when context is considered – the Gunners’ tally of 88 goals throughout the campaign – Chelsea emerges as the unluckier contender. The numbers unfurl a striking revelation: for every 10 goals they netted, Chelsea found the woodwork almost 4 times.

Yet the report’s most confounding revelation remains that Leeds was the luckiest team, despite their relegation. An almost paradoxical situation where the numbers defy expectations. The Whites’ case is backed up by coming out as luckiest in that category also. They had the lowest ratio of 12.50% between woodwork hits and scored goals.

Raw Data

Premier League 2022/2023: Woodwork hits, total shots and total goals for every team
TeamWoodwork hitsShotsGoals
Aston Villa2143151
Manchester United2059358
Manchester City1960094
West Ham1647442
Crystal Palace1042640