At a recent game, as our Czech defender lined up yet another launch of the ball into the box, I sat there wondering if it was any more effective than just going short over the course of a season.
I’ve noticed we don’t go long (whether through Kalas or Zak Vyner) every single game, and it’s usually against a back three with their extra height that we tend to opt for the shorter option – however I wanted to see how effective Kalas’ throws have actually been all season – so I’ve rewatched them all. I’m not watching Vyner’s throws too by the way – this took long enough!
Whilst watching the long throws, I noticed a clear theme in the movement our players made in the penalty area. What tends to happen is our two best players in the air (usually Martin and Atkinson/Baker) both make near post runs for the initial contact, whilst the others run towards the back stick for the flick on – with one or two starting from quite a deep position near the edge of the box, looking to catch their marker unaware.
I think the reason two players run towards the near post rather than just the one is in case one of their runs gets blocked off by some clever defending. I’ve noticed Chris Martin’s starting position is normally in the middle of the goal, rather than in line with the front post. Perhaps this is a tactic to try and catch his marker off guard in where he’s planning on going to stop the blocking from happening.
I was wondering how I was going to report my findings, but I think the best way (and the quickest way for the reader to see the results of the throws) is just to list each one in order, with the odd GIF thrown in so you can see the usual routine I described above.
Anyway, without further ado, here goes:
Throw 1: Martin flick on to Weimann who heads in. Goal!
Throw 2: Cleared to edge of the box, picked up by Scott who dribbles wide.
Throw 3: Cleared to edge of the box to James whose shot is blocked but heading in.
Throw 4: Cleared.
Throw 5: Martin flick on, Swansea volley it away.
Throw 6: Keeper catches.
Throw 7: Cleared.
Throw 8: Cleared.
Throw 9: Hit Atkinson’s leg and went out for a goal kick.
Throw 10: Cleared to edge of the box, headed back in by King into an empty space then cleared again.
Throw 11: Cleared.
Throw 12: Brought down by Weimann who eventually wins a corner.
Throw 13: Cleared.
PRESTON NORTH END (H)
Throw 14: Atkinson flick on, cleared away.
Throw 15: Baker flick on into the keeper’s arms.
Throw 16: Cleared straight back to Kalas who’s able to put a cross in.
Throw 17: Cleared to edge of the box, Pring helps it back into area.
Throw 18: Keeper catches.
Throw 19: Cleared.
Throw 20: Cleared to edge of the box, Dasilva tries to control it but PNE manage to hook it away to safety.
Throw 21: Jerome inadvertently flicks it on to Pring whose header is easily saved.
Throw 22: Cleared straight back to Kalas whose cross is deflected behind for a corner.
Throw 23: Cleared back out for another throw in a similar position.
Throw 24: Cleared.
Throw 25: Cleared at the second attempt.
Throw 26: Martin flick on, Wells swings and misses the ball on the volley.
Throw 27: Cleared at the second attempt.
Throw 28: Cleared to edge of the box to Pring whose shot is blocked.
Throw 29: Martin flick on, Millwall head it down to Weimann 12 yards out whose shot is heading in but is blocked.
Throw 30: Bit of a scramble at the near post with Atkinson trying to bring the ball down before it’s cleared.
Throw 31: Atkinson flick on to James whose shot is blocked.
Throw 32: Martin flick on, Weimann scuffs shot into keeper’s arms.
Throw 33: Cleared straight back to Kalas who passes back to Williams.
Throw 34: Cleared to edge of the box, picked up by Weimann who dribbles wide.
WEST BROM (A)
Throw 35: Martin flick on, cleared out to edge of box where James and Atkinson both try and shoot but get in each other’s way.
Throw 36: Cleared.
Throw 37: Keeper catches.
Throw 38: Cleared to edge of the box to James whose shot is parried away.
Throw 39: Headed out for a corner.
Throw 40: Cleared.
Throw 41: Cleared.
Throw 42: Cleared.
Throw 43: Martin flick on, Scott air-shot from eight yards out.
Throw 44: Cleared partially, then Benarous clatters into defender whilst challenging in the air.
Throw 45: Martin flick on, Scott almost gets on the end of it but its just too high.
Throw 46: Cleared partially, penalty shout for Scott as he gets to the ball first and is seemingly taken out by defender.
Throw 47: Cleared at the second attempt.
Throw 48: Lenihan inadvertently flicks on, falls to Bakinson who can’t sort his feet out at back post.
Throw 49: Cleared straight back to Kalas who heads it down the line for Semenyo.
STOKE CITY (H)
Throw 50: Martin flick on but nobody’s there at the back stick.
Throw 51: Martin flick on to Bakinson who volleys in. Goal!
Throw 52: Cleared at the second attempt.
Throw 53: Cleared back out for another throw in a similar position.
Throw 54: Martin flick on, Bakinson volleys over.
Throw 55: Cleared.
Throw 56: Martin flick on, Scott fires over with weaker foot.
SHEFFIELD UNITED (A)
Throw 57: Cleared at the second attempt.
Throw 58: Cleared.
Throw 59: Cleared.
Throw 60: Cleared to edge of the box, Massengo plays it wide to Kalas in crossing position.
DERBY COUNTY (H)
Throw 61: Cleared at the second attempt.
Throw 62: Cleared to edge of the box to Weimann who dribbles wide.
Throw 63: Cleared at the second attempt. Close to landing at Weimann’s feet though.
Throw 64: Headed out for a corner.
Throw 65: Cleared back out for another throw in a similar position.
Throw 66: Pinball off two Derby defenders before falling into keeper’s arms.
Throw 67: Martin flick on but, agonisingly, no one is on the end of it as the ball rolls out for a goal kick.
HULL CITY (A)
Throw 68: Cleared straight back to Kalas who’s able to put a cross in.
Throw 69: Cleared.
- Long throws that lead to goal: 2 (2.90% of the 69 long throws)
- Long throws that lead to shot: 14 (20.29%)
- City first touch from throws: 19 (27.54%)
- Cleared only as far as edge of the box: 16 (23.19%)
- Easily cleared/caught: 28 (40.58%)
I’m actually more for the long throw now than I was before doing this piece. We’ve scored 2 goals this season from Kalas’ throws, which is the same number we’ve scored from corner kicks. As well as this, we’ve created a few half chances resulting in blocked shots and keeper parries as shown above – which is important for a team that doesn’t always find creating chances in open play the easiest of tasks. Also, just over 23% of these long throws resulted in City regaining possession around the edge of the box, so the throw is a great tool to gain territory deep in the opponents half – making it possible to create chances from the 2nd phase if we couldn’t do so initially.
The long throw also brings the “dummy long throw” into play. A few times this season, when Kalas is preparing a long run up as if he’s about to launch it into the box, just before he starts his run-up he’s thrown it to a teammate who’s offered the short option and most of the time is in plenty of space and able to put a ball into the box due to catching the opposition off guard. By the way, I’ve not included any of these in this piece as I’ve only counted throw ins which have entered the penalty area.