The old adage was, and still is, “always play to the whistle”. Offsides, fouls or the end of injury time. The only time the game stops is when the referee blows his whistle. Until then keep going.
You can just imagine Nuno barking this out during training and probably more so during games. How right he is. We have now scored 6 goals in injury time in the second half of matches, plus 1 more in first-half stoppage time. Those second-half goals have seen us grab all 3 points at West Ham (away) Newcastle (away) and Leicester (home). They also grabbed us a home point in the return match against Newcastle, as well a securing a FA Cup reply at Shrewsbury when we looked dead and buried.
The remaining injury time goal did consolidate a terrific 2-0 home win against Bournemouth. It would have been a travesty if we had conceded late given how well we had played that day.
If we take a closer look at all of the goals we have either scored or conceded this season (EPL, Carabao cup and FA cup) we can identify key segments of play. There are time periods when we do well in scoring (and defending) and other time segments where we are poor in both departments.
If we analyse our goals scored first; we have managed 43 goals in all competitions so far this season. This does not include the penalty shoot-out against Leicester. Of these 12 (27.91%) have been scored in the first half.
If we break each half down into 3 15 minute segments, plus an additional segment for injury time, the chart below shows the spread of goals during the first half:-
Having appeared to have been slow to start some games, we have managed to score half of our total of first-half goals in the first 15 minutes of each game.
Our second half stats show an interesting pattern:-
You can clearly see that we are very strong in the last 15 minutes of the second half, which is carried on right through added time. This must tie in with all the comments we hear from the players regarding their fitness levels being at an all-time high.
Our backroom staff have been outstanding for the past season and a half. We have never shown any signs of fatigue towards the end of games. We have been blessed with minimal injuries, which always helped. Even when players have been injured they come back in a timely fashion. for and raring to go. We never see players struggling to overcome niggling injuries that drag on for months.
The overall picture of goals is depicted below:-
Looking at our defence performance, we do seem to have some issues with the middle segment of the first half:-
This could be attributed to teams putting us under pressure when we don’t start games well. It could be a symptom of us starting well, not taking our chances and having a lapse of concentration when the other team start knocking the ball around with a bit more confidence.
The second half breakdown shows that we are prone to shipping goals at a consistent rate during the second 45 minute period. Further analysis is required to see if these goals have been scored whilst we have been pushing to get back into games, or if we have just had poor moments of concentration
The overall picture of goal conceded looks like this:-
This definitely highlights the fact we do ship goals in the middle segment of each half.
Take Home Message
The biggest conclusion we can draw from this is pretty simple. We never give up. It’s just not Nuno’s way. If we don’t score in the last 15 minutes, there is no need to panic. the chances of us scoring in injury time are pretty high!