Much of the talk surrounding sport over the last 20 months has been centred on the loss and reintroduction of crowds at professional football matches. From dubbed audio borrowed from the FIFA video games being piped into our living rooms to YouTube Fan TV channels conducting socially distant “watch alongs”, the atmosphere at games just couldn’t be replicated. The talk among pundits in the early days of covid football was whether the lack of crowds had an impact on player performance.
The opening rounds of last season saw an increase in goals scored relative to the average of previous seasons, some of which could be attributed to the rise in penalties dished out. It had many TV analysts and journalists arriving at the conclusion that no crowds at games resulted in less pressure on players which gave them the renewed psychological freedom to focus on the game.
This may be true, however there are some interesting stats to compare in the opening two rounds of this season to the same opening rounds of last year’s campaign. The table and figure below present data on the number of shots by the home and away teams for the first two games of the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons.
This is very early days however and as players become reacquainted with fans in stadiums it will be interesting to make further comparisons across the season.