Limiting the chances on your own goal is one way to go about cutting down the number of goals you concede. Here is a look at how each team went about limiting the number of shots they conceded on their goal throughout the 2012-13 season:
10. Norwich City – 180 shots on target (533 total) – 9.2 shots per goal conceded
In their second consecutive season in the Premier League and first under Chris Hughton, Norwich City improved their finishing position by one place on 2011-12 by finishing 11th. The Canaries survival and mid-table finish was built on a 10-game unbeaten streak between mid-October and mid-December, which included 1-0 victories over both Arsenal and Manchester United. Four of their ten clean sheets were kept during this run. Six of those clean sheets were kept by John Ruddy in his 15 appearances before injury. Hughton’s side went eight games without shutting out their opponents immediately following Ruddy’s season-ending injury in November.
Whilst Norwich did a good job in limiting the number of shots on target against them, only Aston Villa (9.2), Tottenham (8.0), Newcastle (7.5), Southampton (7.5) and Wigan (7.3) averaged fewer shots against per goal conceded.
9. Chelsea – 161 shots on target (463 total) – 11.9 shots per goal conceded
In a season that saw Chelsea play a total of 69 games in all competitions, under two different managers, only Manchester City (34) and Arsenal (37) conceded fewer goals than the Blues. Only Manchester City (18) and Liverpool (16) kept more clean sheets too.
Clean sheets in games against Manchester City (home) and Manchester United (away) were Chelsea’s only successes against the top 6, whilst Fulham and Stoke City were both shut out in both matches versus Chelsea this season.
8. Southampton – 155 shots on target (447 total) – 7.5 shots per goal conceded
The Saints made an impressive return to the Premier League during their first top flight season after a seven year absence. A 14th-place finish under the guidance Mauricio Pochettino following the Argentinians appointment in January. Southampton kept 7 clean sheets after going through three different goalkeepers during the 2012-13 season, settling on Artur Boruc for 18 of their final 20 league games.
Southampton were conceding an average of 13.8 shots per game in their 22 games under Nigel Adkins, compared to 8.9 per game under Mauricio Pochettino.
7. Stoke City – 154 shots on target (545 total) – 12.1 shots per goal conceded
Survival built upon a solid defence season after season, only Queens Park Rangers (30) scored fewer goals than Stoke City (34) during the 2012-13 campaign. A disappointing second half to the campaign saw Tony Pulis booed by the Britannia Stadium faithful before being replaced by Mark Hughes at the end of the season. Nine of their 12 clean sheets were kept before Christmas, whilst Stoke City only picked up 13 points in their final 18 fixtures, starting with a 3-0 thrashing at Manchester City on New Year’s Day.
Stoke City averaged the most number of shots on their goal on average between conceding goals last season.
6. Manchester United – 149 shots on target (485 total) – 11.3 shots per goal conceded
After conceding goals freely at the start of the season, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side tightened up at the back in the second half of the season, keeping 10 clean sheets in their final 19 games following a 4-3 victory over Newcastle on Boxing Day. David de Gea became the regular number 1 after Anders Lindegaard conceded 3 against Reading on 1 December. The Dane played in two of the final three games after the title had already been secured.
28 of Manchester United’s 43 goals (65%) were conceded in the first half of the season, allowing just 15 in the new year, which included 5 on the final game of the season.
5. Everton – 147 shots on target (452 total) – 11.3 shots per goal conceded
Only four teams allowed fewer shots on target versus their own goalkeeper than David Moyes’ Everton last season. The centre-back partnership of Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin were a solid pairing, helped by former Manchester United players Darron Gibson and Phil Neville splitting time offering protection in front of them.
Aston Villa (3-3 at Goodison Park on 2 February) were the only team to score more than 2 goals in a single game versus Everton in the Premier League last season.
4. Arsenal – 143 shots on target (402 total) – 10.9 shots per goal conceded
After starting the season with 3 consecutive clean sheets, Arsenal’s defence went fragile through the majority of the season before keeping 7 clean sheets in their final 14 Premier League games. A 2-1 loss to Tottenham was the only time Arsenal conceded more than a single goal during that run.
Arsenal were the only team to keep a clean sheet versus Bayern Munich in the 54 competitive games the Champions League winners played last season.
3. Liverpool – 141 shots on target (433 total) – 10.1 shots per goal conceded
Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side improved a season went on with the former Swansea City manager seeing his defence improved in the final third of the season – keeping 7 clean sheets in their final 12 fixtures. On top of that, Rodgers got a considerably higher number of goals out of Luis Suárez than Kenny Dalglish did the season before. January signings of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge impressed during the final months and give the Reds reason to head into 2013-14 with optimism.
Jamie Carragher was in the centre of defence for 8 of Liverpool’s 16 clean sheets, with the retiring centre-back starting 16 Premier League games.
2. Tottenham Hotspur – 128 shots on target (369 total) – 8.0 shots per goal conceded
Andre Villas-Boas’ side conceded the fewest attempts on goal of any team in the Premier League last season, and only one team allowed fewest shots on target than Tottenham. Despite this, 11 teams kept more clean sheets than Tottenham’s 9 which is something the Portuguese manager will be looking to improve on heading into his second season at White Hart Lane. Brad Friedel failed to keep a clean sheet in his 11 league appearances, all during the first few months of the season.
Spurs’ defence improved after the first three months under AVB (1.75 average goals against in opening 12 games, compared to 0.96 in final 26 games).
1. Manchester City – 116 shots on target (395 total) – 11.6 shots per goal conceded
Roberto Mancini’s Italian instincts of building a team from the back during his three full seasons in charge of Manchester City proved successful as Joe Hart was the winner of the Premier League’s Golden Glove (most clean sheets) during each of these. On top of keeping the most clean sheets in 2012-13, Manchester City allowed the fewest shots on target. Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasić made the most starts in central defence for the former champions, whilst Joe Hart played every single minute in goal.
Manchester City only allowed more than 1 goal against in seven different games last season.
Here is the full table on shots allowed and goals conceded data, ordered by fewest shots allowed on target throughout the 2012-13 Premier League season: