THERE aren’t too many things more frustrating in football than watching your team batter the opposition for 90 minutes, yet having to settle for a draw. As wave after wave of attack fizzles out, there is often a palpable sense that your team’s profligacy will come back to haunt them. Then it happens; the opposition counter, and all of a sudden they’re level or, even worse, ahead.

It’s one of the most disheartening experiences that a football fan can suffer. Every supporter will be able to recall games where their team really should have gone on to win it once they were in the ascendancy, yet have had to settle for a point or have left with nothing. Many fans will consider their own team to be particularly guilty of being wasteful in front of goal; the question is, which Premiership team is the most wasteful in front of goal?

The graphic above outlines how many goals each top-flight team has scored from open play this season and how many shots have been attempted, minus efforts from set pieces. From these figures, we can calculate how many shots from open play each side has to hit on average before the ball crosses the line.

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Celtic fare the best in this regard, scoring with every 8.09 shots from open play in the league this season. Rangers aren’t too far behind in second, finding the net for every 8.53 shots they attempt. At the other end of the scale, we have Hearts (12.1 shots per goals) and Hamilton (12.12), both of whom need numerous attempts on goal until they can find a breakthrough.

Going by these figures, it looks as if Hamilton, Hearts and St Mirren are the worst offenders when it comes to converting goalscoring opportunities. But this doesn’t tell the full story; after all, a team that hits a lot of shots from distance wouldn’t expect to have a high conversion rate. Thankfully, expected goals (xG) can give a clearer view of the issue.

A team’s xG reflects the number of opportunities a side has during a match, as well as the likelihood of them going in. This gives a fairer reflection of a team’s ability in front of goal. If a side’s xG is lower than their actual goals scored, then they can be said to be putting away more than their fair share of chances. Conversely, if a side’s xG is lower than their goals scored, then they’re probably being a little wasteful in front of goal.

The chart above details each Premiership side’s goals scored and xG, and we can see that there are some teams that are clearly more effective in front of goal than others. Kilmarnock, for example, have the greatest discrepancy between their goals scored and xG of 4.42, implying that their forwards are doing an excellent job at taking their chances. Hibernian, Celtic and Aberdeen are all performing similarly well and can be said to be efficient at taking their chances when they come along.

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St Johnstone, on the other hand, should be doing a lot better in this regard. Saints’ xG is 5.26 lower than their goals scored; in short, they’re five goals worse off than they should have been, had their strikers been firing on all cylinders. Hamilton and Hearts are the only other clubs underperforming here, although not at quite the same extent as Tommy Wright’s side.

Of course, some attacks fizzle out before a striker even gets a chance to get his shot away. Sometimes a midfielder will pick the wrong pass or hold onto the ball a little too long, and the chance is gone. For this reason, we’re also going to examine each team’s passing accuracy into the final third, in a bid to see what sides are guilty of spurning promising opportunities.

Unsurprisingly, Celtic are the league leaders going by this metric with around 80% of their passes into the final third reaching their intended target. Rangers have the second-highest success rate with 69% of their efforts accurate; not a bad success rate by any means, but this further underlines the gap between themselves and their rivals across the city. If you can’t find your man, you’re not going to score and as a result you’re not going to win games. The addition of Glen Kamara has undoubtedly benefited Rangers in this regard, but further progress is required if they’re to put Celtic’s recent dominance of the Premiership to an end.

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Livingston (55.39%), Hamilton (56.94) and St Johnstone (57.42) have the lowest passing accuracy into the final third and it is telling that all three appear in the list of the five lowest-scoring teams in the Premiership. All of these teams favour playing long balls from deep positions, so perhaps the numbers are a little skewed here, but this is clearly a high risk/high reward style of play. Many of these long balls won’t find their man but the ones that do can prove highly effective.

Balancing up all of the evidence available to us then, it seems only fair to declare Hamilton as the most wasteful side in the Premiership. Brian Rice’s side need more shots than anyone else to find the net, are one of just three clubs to have a lower xG than their goals scored and possess the second-lowest passing accuracy for balls into the final third. They’re struggling to create chances, they need a lot of opportunities to get going and have an unwanted habit of spurning the opportunities they do create.