Decision Making the Key for the Tigers
After a pretty strong season so far, Hull CIty have hit a blip. They’ve dropped off the top of the league, been knocked out the Papa John’s Trophy and if teams around them win their games in hand, could find themselves as low as 5th. A poor return of four points have come from the last five, only scoring once.
Prior to this five game period scoring hasn’t been an issue, as the club have been averaging almost 3 goals every two games in the league. In this piece I’ll be looking at why City have been struggling so much in front of goal in recent weeks.
First, let’s have a look at statistical differences from the last five games and the season average. The main issue is that they have only had 8 shots on target, with 5 of these coming in one game against Swindon. In the games against Lincoln and Burton, the Tigers had 0 shots on target.
Similarly to a drop in the number of shots on target, the xG has been significantly lower in a number of the recent fixtures. Despite having more than 10 shots against Accrington and Lincoln the xG remained below 1. This means that the shots they were taking were much tougher chances. This could explain why they only had one shot on target in those two games.
One positive from the game against MK Dons is that the xG was 2.05, suggesting that they were creating much better quality chances. The shot below from Josh Magennis (0.35) was only 0.01 less than the teams total xG against Burton (0.36).
When looking at video from the game, City don’t look too far away from returning from earlier season form in front of goal. They are still recovering the ball high up the pitch, however they are not capitalising on this. In the 4-0 win against Portsmouth, Keane Lewis-Potter wins the ball in the opposition third, plays the ball through to Malik Wilks, and it results in a goal.
However, against Lincoln, Lewis-Potter wins the ball back in arguably a better position, and could have slid Josh Magennis in. Instead he dribbles inside and takes a shot from outside the area, missing the target.
The key to returning back to form for City is decision making in the final third. At their best the front three are able to create space for high quality chances for others. The best example of this was in the 3-0 win against Accrington at home. Lewis-Potter dragged in a number of players on the edge of the box before passing to Wilks in space. Wilks then went on to score the 1 on 1.
This weekend against MK Dons Lewis-Potter did something similar. He dribbled towards goal, with all the opposition players focused on him. However, this time he shot instead of laying Wilks in for a 1 on 1.
Wilks was also guilty of this at the weekend. Instead of playing the ball through to the unmarked Magennis or Crowley he decided to go alone, striking the ball outside the box. The shot trickled into the arms of the Dons keeper, causing no real issues.
For Hull to maintain their charge for promotion, decision making in the final third is key. Making the most of these scenarios, especially in close games is vital to picking up more points. Despite the worry of only picking up four points out of the last fifteen available, the side don’t need to make wholesale changes offensively. Instead, they just need to go back to what made them such a success earlier in the season.
Written by James Crickmore